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Grieving through digital devices: Is it ethical?

30th March 2017   Latest News

Earlier this year, the Kent and Sussex Crematorium and Cemetery in Tunbridge Wells did something a little out of the ordinary. They installed a camera so that mourners who were unable to physically attend a funeral service could live-stream it and pay their respects via their PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet. But is grieving through digital devices ethical?

The reasoning behind this alternative funeral service idea was to allow families and friends to grieve their loved ones even if they are unable to be present for the ceremony – perhaps due to time constraints, disabilities, living too far away, among other personal circumstances.

grieving through digital devices

Taking up the digital gauntlet

Recognising the ever increasing dispersity and transience of modern society, funeral directors have developed their methods of working to become more accessible and available via online modes.

Progressive funeral homes have been inspired by the rapid growth of digital culture, many of which have implemented modern technology into their services, embracing digital mechanisms and providing a platform for a more globalised world to share, come together and grieve despite being countries, oceans and continents apart.

Digital dream or virtual insanity?

Of course, attending a virtual funeral is not ideal. A far cry from the traditional, stoic funeral service, online ceremonies have caused some discomfort. Is live streaming a funeral service somewhat distasteful? Does it remove us from the intimacy of the ritual?

What the internet doesn’t offer, is the human contact and compassion you would receive by attending a funeral service. For those dealing with the loss of a loved one, talking to someone face to face, or simply receiving a hug, hand to hold or shoulder to cry on is invaluable. In addition, speaking with a funeral director who can provide professional information and advice regarding funeral arrangements is often more appropriate when conducted face to face.

That being said, there are benefits to live-streaming a funeral service. With so many weird and wonderful funeral traditions out there, could live-streaming be the new one? There are instances where attending a funeral service physically is difficult, and while the act of being ‘present’ is cathartic, the digital service could help to narrow the distance between you and your family during this important time – particularly if you live far away.

How will the digital service work?

Guests who attend the funeral online will be given a protected password to access the live feed, and ensure the ceremony is webcasted securely over the internet. According to the Kent and Sussex Crematorium and Cemetery in Tunbridge Wells registrar, Ken Dry, obtaining the password and access to the live stream will cost £50 per user.

Video equipment will be set up and linked to a computer and software that allows the ceremony to be viewed online by family and friends of the deceased.

The current technology is being trialled not only by the Kent and Sussex Crematorium and Cemetery but by many other cemeteries and crematoria across the Uk and internationally. The online service is being tested across a range of locations, and if successful, should be available this year.

Leaving an online legacy

As we shift towards a completely digital world, print has become obsolete. Very few obituaries are now published in newspapers. As we consume greater amounts of media and content online, online memorials are growing in popularity. Some funeral directors and online companies offer the chance to upload a remembrance piece about the deceased.

Social media platforms such as Facebook also allow us to create a legacy page for our loved ones. It has become increasingly commonplace for family and friends to create a page dedicated to the deceased so that the online community can share pictures and memories over an unlimited time period.

Technology has already revolutionised many aspects of our lives, and this article shows just how it is reshaping the funeral landscape. Already, 22 percent of UK adults believe that live streaming of funerals will become popular in the future. As technology become more deeply embedded and normalised in our society, this figure is sure to grow.

Contact ISCA Funerals today

At ISCA Funeral Directors, we provide a range of professional, compassionate funeral options to best suit your requirements. Whether you are looking for a simple funeral service in Exeter that is dignified and cost-effective or an alternative funeral ceremony that celebrates the life of your loved one, we can accommodate any requirements.

Get in touch with ISCA Funerals today for more advice and information.


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