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Practical tips for live streaming a funeral

By Connie Cone Sexton
Livestreaming a funeral requires planning and logistics. Getty Images

Holding a live streaming funeral takes a lot of planning, whether you choose to do it yourself or make arrangements through a funeral home or private company.

Experts suggest designating a family member or close friend to oversee the process.

When a loved one dies, people in the immediate family or beyond offer to help in some way and look for what their role can be, says Clay Dippel, a funeral director for Bradshaw-Carter Memorial & Funeral Services in Houston.

Because of the coronavirus, many in-person funerals have limited attendance to as few as 10 people. That restriction of attendees has led to a surge in people opting for live streaming, Dippel says.

While streaming greatly expands the funeral audience, it adds stress on families: "On top of having to plan a funeral, you have to deal with technology. That is a lot coming at them all at once,” Dippel says. Tapping someone who is comfortable with Internet services can take the burden off family members, he says.

The family could rely on that person to collect email addresses to send out invitations to the live streaming. They could check ensure cell phone service is strong enough to support a stream, or explore the pros and cons of the various platforms to help choose the right option.

Helping to provide a sense of control is vital during the grieving process, says Sheila Munafo-Kanoza, founder and executive director of Cincinnati-area Companions on a Journey Grief Support Inc.

“When a loved one dies, you’re lost and confused and it feels like someone reached into your chest and pulled your heart out,’’ she says. Having someone help with something like live streaming can restore some balance.

Families need structure as they sort out the loss. One of the ways to do that is to decide whether to make the funeral stream public or private. For some families, they may want only those invited to participate.

Some streaming services allow for public comments - and the risk of unkind posts. That might be too difficult for some families, Munafo-Kanoza says. Consider toggling off the comments, or assigning someone to monitor them and delete anything offensive.

Families may opt to purchase a premium package that provides more options to limit who can participate. During a recent meeting Munafo-Kanoza held, she was able to invite only those who had registered and were sent a password.

“We did that so we didn’t have to worry about who was online with us and might intrude,’’ she adds.

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