With today's widening world, where friends and loved ones live all around the globe, we can't always attend a memorial service in person. Fortunately, thanks to modern technological advancements, it's no longer necessary to be physically present for a funeral or memorial service. Today, you can livestream a funeral over the internet, which makes it much more accessible for anyone who can't travel.
Here's what you should know about how to livestream a funeral.
Why Choose to Livestream Funerals or Memorial Services?
There are various reasons to consider streaming a funeral or memorial service over the internet, such as keep it recorded for posterity. But the most common choice is undoubtedly to make the funeral accessible to those who can't be physically present. This may be because they live far away, can't get off work, are physically unable due to illness or other causes, or really for any reason — the point of a funeral live stream is so that anyone can witness and participate no matter what they're reason for being unable to attend in person.
An additional reason, and one that was most relevant just over the last few years, is to prevent the spread of illness. With the COVID-19 pandemic making large social gatherings unsafe, many families who suffered deaths during this time were able to still memorialize their lost loved ones by using livestreaming over the internet. This provided opportunities for people to grieve and mourn while remaining physically isolated and socially distant.
How Can You Livestream a Funeral?
Planning a funeral live stream requires two core components:
- You need a way to record audio and video of a funeral or a memorial service.
- You need a streaming platform to send that audio and video so that others can watch and even participate in the funeral remotely.
Let's look at each aspect in turn.
Recording a Funeral for Streaming Purposes
Thanks to the ubiquity of mobile devices today, being able to record a funeral to stream it over the internet is relatively easy. Even the simplest smartphone is capable of filming live video and audio, and these phones are easy enough to operate that a casual user can simply hold their phone up and press the "record" button to capture the events of a funeral or memorial service. However, if you want people who are watching your livestream to be able to appreciate the funeral services properly, you would do well to use more than just your phone being manually held.
Using other devices, such as a high-quality HDMI camera like a digital SLR or even a GoPro, will help capture video that is of much higher quality. Likewise, using a separate microphone will helpfully capture key audio.
Our other major recommendation is to utilize a tripod or stand. Don't require yourself or someone else to hold the recording device for the entirety of the service. Set it up on a tripod, place it in a prime location, and let it do the manual labor. Your arms (and your viewers) will be grateful.
Lastly, consider connecting the recording device directly to a computer connected to the internet. This can be crucial for the next step in the process.
The Best Way to Livestream a Funeral Over the Internet
Recording the funeral is one thing. It gives you a record moving forward and allows you to share it however you see fit afterward. However, if you want people to be able to witness the service live, you will need to do more than record the proceedings. You will need to livestream them.
The most important element of how to livestream a a funeral is to be connected to the internet. You need a continuous connection so that the stream does not break in the middle and remains clear for all attending virtually.
Once you ensure a connection, either on your phone or a computer, it's time to choose the streaming platform. The two most obvious choices are YouTube or Facebook — both allow you to go "live," and both are nearly ubiquitous for all guests. One thing to note, though, is that guests will only be able to interact via written comments — neither YouTube nor Facebook Live offer a mechanism for engaging directly, such as the Zoom calls we've all become familiar with during the pandemic.
That leads to some other options for the best way to livestream a funeral. If you want it to be fully interactive, you may want to consider using Zoom, Skype, Periscope, or a similar service. Keep in mind that attendees will need to ensure they have the appropriate app or browser access beforehand, as well as the link and/or entrance code to gain access. Try to avoid tools like FaceTime that require a specific company's devices (though recently Apple has made FaceTime available to users who have access to an internet browser even if they aren't on an Apple device).
Other options are services like Discord or Twitch, but ultimately the choice should come down to what is easiest and clearest for the audience. Likely that will mean YouTube or Facebook.
Other Aspects of a Funeral Livestream to Consider
The actual livestream of a funeral across the internet does take a few steps to pull off successfully, but there's more to just the actual audio/video capture and sending that audio and video to a streaming platform. There are other aspects to consider as well, such as whether you wish to have a permanent recording of the stream for posterity.
It's true that platforms like YouTube and Facebook can be set to automatically archive your livestream to have it available for viewing after the stream is concluded. However, if you prefer to not take that option but still want to keep a record of the funeral for your own purposes, ensure that the device you're recording the funeral on has sufficient storage space to hold the video file.
Also consider the placement and lighting of the recording device, the viewing angle, what you even want it to view, and if the entire event or events should be livestreamed, or only specific portions. The tripod remains important, especially when viewing a reading, for example. But there may be times where you want to go hand-held, such as moving through the receiving line or even asking attendees to say a few words into the camera.
The Best Way to Livestream a Funeral
While there is no "best" way to livestream a funeral, you will need a few things to do so successfully. Those include a way to capture video and audio, a stable internet connection, a streaming platform of your choice, and a plan for what to show and how to show it. You'll also need to distribute the link to the livestream to everyone who wants to view it beforehand and ensure that they have sufficient access to the platform you've chosen for streaming.
Finally, it's crucial to keep in mind that livestreaming a funeral takes a lot of hard work and organization, and usually at a time when you have your own mourning to do, as well as potentially planning the actual memorial service itself. Keep aware of that fact and be sure to be kind to yourself. Give yourself room to grieve, even as you help provide that same opportunity to others. Keep that in mind as you stream a loved one's funeral over the internet.
If you would like assistance with planning a memorial service, we offer a free funeral planning checklist.