Live streaming funerals

What is live-streaming?

Live streaming, also known as webcasting, allows you to watch live video footage over the internet. From major sports matches to political debates, live streaming is an increasingly popular way for people from all over the world to experience an event live. The technology isn’t just for global events though – people are starting to share important personal events, such as weddings and funerals, via private live streaming.

You may have heard of a number of high profile funerals live streamed in recent years, including Mohammad Ali and Lemmy Kilmister, frontman of Motörhead, so that their fans could mourn the death of their heroes.

Motörhead wrote an open letter encouraging people to watch Kilminster's funeral live. It read: “Wherever you are, please get together and watch with fellow Motörheadbangers and friends. Go to your favourite bar, or your favourite club, make sure they have access to an internet connection and toast along with us. Or simply invite your pals around and celebrate Lemm’s life at home.” Over a quarter of a million viewers logged on to watch the funeral.

Whose funerals are live-streamed?

Aside from celebrity funerals, the practice is becoming more widespread as an easy and cost effective way of sharing the service with friends and family members who are unable to be there. We spoke to David Lutterman, CEO of One Room, a company which provides funeral webcasting, to ask why more and more people are choosing to stream their loved one’s funeral.

“If reasons such as cost, distance or health prevent people from attending the service in person then webcasting is used as a way to include them,” said David. “The remote mourner can view the service live or whenever they are able to, from any location.

“Access to the service is important for grief resolution and it also creates a more inclusive sense of community. Friends and family often comment how important it was to have the option to see the service.

“It is also common for the family to value access to the recording after the service. They can view the service with more clarity once emotions have subsided and also keep it for future generations or people who weren't notified in time for the funeral.”

Despite these obvious benefits, the idea of live streaming family funerals has been both praised and criticised. Complaints often label the practice as ‘disrespectful’ or ‘weird’, but is this just a resistance against change?

“We think it is more respectful to include everyone who wishes to pay their respects than to limit this option only to those who can attend in person,” said David. “This is a very important ceremony. In this age of connectivity it would be weird to hear and see nothing of it.”

Of course, it is important to note that although live streamed celebrity funerals might be open for anyone in the world to view, companies offering funeral streaming services for private events largely operate on a sharing feature, where mourners are given a specific code to access the stream. This means that no one can ‘snoop’ on private funerals.

What is the future of live-streaming funerals?

It’s hard to deny that funeral live streaming marks a decisive change in how we think about mourning. It is perhaps a wider reflection of how drastically our lives have changed in the last 50 years. We are no longer limited by geographic location and the ability to share the important moments of our life will only grow. As David says, “The generation of digital natives have grown up consuming video on demand and it is simply an expectation that this option will be available to them. Of course it will be standard, it is just a case of how quickly.

“We have such a short time to acknowledge and celebrate the life of our loved ones. It is important that they are remembered and that their community has the opportunity to be part of that remembrance. The story can be shared and safeguarded; everyone deserves that.”

An increasing number of crematoria and service venues are able to offer live streaming in the UK. Talk to your funeral director for more information about live streaming a funeral for your loved one.

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