With the stark reality of more people dying from COVID-19 in this country, there’s also a growing need to find new ways to celebrate their lives despite social distancing measures.
Traditionally, people of all faiths have taken solace in personal visits, hugs, taking food to the bereaved, and personally attending services. Social distancing measures make those things impractical.
VIENNA, AUSTRIA – MARCH 24: Employees of Bestattung Himmelblau undertakers rehearse the … [+]
On an average day in the United States, an estimated 7,700 people die, and that doesn’t count those who succumb to complications related to coronavirus. Funeral directors are challenged to help families find a safe way to hold end-of-life ceremonies.
Michael Schimmel, CEO of Sympathy Brands, parent company of eCondolence.com and Shiva.com, says, “There is a new grief formulating—the grief of not being able to celebrate, honor and commemorate loved ones. People need to be supported and need to be comforted.
Schimmel’s company recently announced the launch of “Viewneral,” which is the first interactive and collaborative virtual funeral, memorial service, wake, or shiva that allows families and friends to attend and participate from the safety of their own homes.
The technology, which is powered by Zoom, allows up to 500 people to virtually attend. With the help of a funeral director, a family plans the service and then guests receive a link to the end-of-life event. The service is recorded for future viewing.
“As a country, we’re facing something never seen before,” says Schimmel. “There will be large numbers of people grief struck on a different level. Being able to mourn loved ones is incredibly important.”
Schimmel says eCondolence.com and Shiva.com provide educational information about religious and cultural customs, suggested ways to express sympathy and health and wellness safety measures.
“Expressing heartfelt sympathies should still be done,” he says, and offers the following as examples of how people can continue to support those who have lost loved ones:
· Send cards and notes
· Chat on Facetime or through other technology
· Pick up the phone and call them
· Send care packages.
People can also leave messages on the website during a virtual funeral, much like a guestbook.
Check with the funeral home in your area for online streaming options.