Until a few years ago funerals had changed very little since Victorian times, but COVID-19 has driven the pace of transformation in lots of different ways, particularly regarding digital communication.
The challenges of our current situation have meant that there are increased needs for, and opportunities to use, digital technology and this is shaping the future of how funerals are organised, communicated, and attended.
Broader access to funerals
Currently, government guidelines limit the number of mourners allowed to gather for a funeral service, meaning that some, and perhaps many people will not be able to attend. This has been addressed by the increased use of live video streaming, whereby a person with a camera films the service and the feed is broadcast over the internet (for example on Facebook) for anyone to view.
In more normal times, there will be occasions when distance, health or other circumstances can stop some family and friends from attending a funeral. Live streaming can provide a helpful alternative, allowing them to take part, if not attend, in person.
Arranging a funeral remotely
Social distancing requirements have meant that there is an increasing reliance on remote means of communication to organise a funeral. Though we still have face-to-face meetings with clients at our socially distanced branches, it is now accepted that all of the funeral arrangements can be made by phone, email and most recently using platforms such as Zoom and Skype.
In the longer term we expect that these means of communication will offer benefits for clients who don’t live locally or who have difficulty in travelling. In the same way, the ability to share, send, sign, return and submit documents electronically offer a simple way of making all arrangements at a distance.
Online is the norm
Previously, press notifications in local newspapers were the traditional way of advising people about a death. Now, social media platforms, funeral directors’ websites and those dedicated to obituary notices such as Funeral Guide offer opportunities to share memories, write messages and even to donate to a chosen charity.
To assist someone organising a funeral to understand the costs and budget effectively, price comparison sites offer an overview of prices and the options available from specific funeral companies. From April 2021 funeral directors will be required by the recognised professional associations to publish prices on their websites. This is to ensure clarity and a like-for-like evaluation of services.
To help share memories of a loved one, there is access to a massive library of online music and recordings that can be downloaded and used at funeral or memorial services. Editing software gives the opportunity to edit and personalise photos and videos to a very significant degree.
And our view…
Manor House Funerals’ Managing Director, Stephen Corpe, commented; ‘Though the pandemic has, for very sad reasons, forced our profession to embrace digital technology more quickly than would have happened otherwise, it has created opportunities in the longer term for greater participation at funerals and an easier way to make funeral arrangements.’