Webcasting Funerals a.k.a. Cyberfunerals

Feb 26, 2010 | 2 comments

You may not hesitate about recording a wedding, as it’s a joyous event, but you never think about recording a funeral, where people are going to say such wonderful things about you. A cyberfuneral provides a good reason to allow cameras to cover your big send-off.

Cyberfunerals, or the broadcast of funeral services over the Internet, is a growing phenomenon fueled by our increasingly wired society. Also known as funeralcasting or memorial webcasting, it can be shown live, accessible only to those who have a password supplied by the funeral service provider. It can also be archived for repeat viewings as part of an online memorial site.

“With a significant number of funerals, at least one person would like to be there but can’t, whether from work or family obligations, geographic distance, travel costs, physical or health-related challenges, military deployment overseas, or complicated or disenfranchised relationships,” said Carla Sofka, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Social Work at Siena College who studied the phenomenon.

Savvy funeral homes are adding cyberfunerals as part of the services they offer. The funeral is held in a specially equipped chapel that has the lights, microphones, cameras and high-speed Internet access and servers to handle the bandwidth needed. Alternatively, the family can hire their own professional webcast services to carry the funeral.

To view the cyberfuneral, a person needs a late-model computer with audio and video capabilities, a high-speed processor, and a high-speed Internet connection. If you can watch YouTube, you can watch a webcast.

Some negative aspects: While cyberfunerals provide the opportunity for people to observe, there is no social interaction with the bereaved, and a sense of community is lost. Some may feel the cameras are too intrusive, the event too impersonal.

Other considerations: There are issues of signed permissions to show the people at the funeral and licensing fees to be paid for music used in the ceremony. If professional photographs or copyrighted images are used, those issues must be addressed as well.

And there are benefits that live on after the event. Sofka notes, “Kids might create a memorial web site, and having an archived webcast, can hear stories and learn things they never dreamed they’d know about that loved one.”

Just one more option to consider when funeral planning.

A Good Goodbye