Virtual funerals, etiquette and grieving: 16 steps to healing

It’s no secret that virtual meetings have taken our world by storm since the appearance of COVID-19. While virtual streaming services have been around for years, many families are choosing to limit in-person funeral services to immediate family and putting the rituals online so friends and family can participate safely.

But celebrating and grieving the loss of a loved one can be difficult over a computer screen, leaving us feeling awkward and confused, and for some, lonely and without closure. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

“More and more families are taking advantage of our technology to involve family and friends in their funeral rituals. We are actually seeing higher numbers of service attendees for our on-line services than for our in-person servic” – Chris Tharp, Funeral Director

Here are 16 steps to virtual funerals, etiquette, and grieving:

When coping with death, it’s not uncommon to feel uneasy and nervous. Not only are we grieving, but we are having to navigate the world around us – and in the post-covid days that includes using technology in new ways. This guide is meant to make it a little easier to navigate the questions, to help those dealing with loss to focus on healing, even if it’s on a little computer screen.

Start your ritual early

Whether the services have been moved online, or if you just can’t make it in person, treat the virtual services as the real deal. Prepare yourself early, both mentally and physically, by dressing your best and choosing a comfortable and appropriate location so you can be both mentally and physically present. Since you won’t have to drive anywhere, use the extra time to think about your loved one. You can have your own healing rituals at home, in your own space and time.

  • Dress for a funeral
  • Be early
  • Take time to think about your loved one

Prepare some words of healing for yourself and the surviving family

At a traditional funeral, it isn’t always possible to share your own tribute, but with virtual funerals, it should be a focus of the participants to be able to share stories, pictures, and remembrances. This is your opportunity to offer the family words that have the power to mend.

  • Prepare something meaningful to share
  • Write loving words in the comments
  • Share photos, videos, stories, and other remembrances

Silence everything around you

Your cell phone and TV are obvious, but you should think about creating a space of complete solitude. If you have young children, you will need to get them proper care if they are too young or if you do not feel it would be appropriate for them to participate. While this is a decision for parents and caregivers alone to make, many people decide to wait until children are 7 or older, depending on the relationship to the deceased, their maturity level and whether or not they express that they want to attend.

  • Prepare a place of silence
  • Think about childcare or other help you might need

Follow basic Zoom/Streaming etiquette

While many employers have gone virtual, so have families that have taken birthday parties, holidays, and anniversaries online; and most of us have a basic understanding of Zoom, Google Meet, and other software options. But it is important to follow some basic guidelines of etiquette during virtual meetings, including:

  • Have an appropriate background free of mess and clutter
  • Stay focused on the event and try not to get distracted
  • Keep yourself muted
  • Keep your camera on at all times

Not only will these guidelines keep other people from getting distracted, but this is how you can show the family the maximum amount of respect and love.

Simply be present

Virtual funerals are challenging, there is simply no way around that. It takes extra patience and focus to be mentally present online. But ironically this is also the most important thing you can do for yourself and the grieving family. Pay close attention, think about the life of your loved one or friend, and honor them with your sincerity.

  • Be present
  • Be patient

Reach out to others afterward

It can be hard to connect with people through a virtual event, that’s why it’s of utmost importance to reach out and talk to people. If you can’t see them in person, talk to them over Zoom or through a phone call, and avoid a text-only conversation. It is also important to reach out to the grieving family in the days to come and offer your support through favors, food, or just words of kindness.

  • Reach out and talk to people afterward
  • Offer your support to the grieving family

Nothing can, or ever will, replace in-person gatherings where we are able to see each other physically, offer a warm embrace or just simple words of kindness. But we can make the most of our virtual world and help each other heal, even from a distance.

Meet a Planning Director at Tharp Funeral Home

The professional and caring staff at Tharp Funeral Home can help your family with all of your questions and guide you to make the choices right for you. To schedule a planning session, simply choose a location and we will help you pick a day and time that works best for you.