Death + Technology Death + the Web Funeral Industry

TiVo Grief with Funeral Webcasting

Funeral Webcasting – Can’t Attend a Memorial Service?

via The Consumerist, “Now You Can Attend Funerals Live Over the Internet”

Laura Northrup at the Consumerist recently blogged about funeral webcasting with this video from Chris Hill at Weirdly, the vid seems aimed at those in need of services for loved ones while the accompanying webpage is targeted at funeral directors (i.e., getting a funeral home set up with “Pre-Screened and Qualified™ Preferred Providers” — yes, that is actually their trademark).

Anyway, reasons for being unable to attend a funeral include being poor, old, sick or riffraff:

Specific details are scarce — I imagine it depends on the local Pre-Screened and Qualified™ Preferred Providers. Nonetheless, it seems to target those who don’t really understand how the internet works (you can watch it anywhere! even the library!). I also frown that he emphasizes that services are archived up to 90 days as though that’s a bonus and not a ripoff — you can be sure for an extra fee you can extend your access to final farewells if not purchase a DVD.

Cynicism aside, this is not a bad idea, at least for those physically unable to make it to a funeral. When it’s used as a tool of convenience, however — or as an excuse to not need to put aside differences and invite the family baddies and black sheep — the idea turns crass and cold. Funerals are about gathering and remembering together — not about watching other people gather and remember on the internet, whenever you happen to find the time to tune in and grieve.

4 replies on “TiVo Grief with Funeral Webcasting”

This video upsets me for two reasons.

#1: Funeral Webcasting can be done by the family. Although not DIY LIVE Yet – a funeral can be videoed and put on a free blog or DVD.

#2 The speaker says I know what your going through to those who have lost a loved one. THIS IS ONE OF THE THINGS GRIEF EXPERTS STATE NEVER TO SAY TO SOMEONE GRIEVING A DEATH!

Indeed, the marketing on this is disturbing. When posting on things like this, I aim for neutrality as much as possible — not so much as the journalist I’m not, but as the librarian that I am, wanting to draw attention to some of what’s out there without my own opinions getting in the way. On the other hand, it’s hard not to editorialize things that are deceptive or just plain snake-oil slick (which is also a librarian’s job — pointing out bias and agenda for the sake of information and media literacy).

I suppose they could argue that you shouldn’t ask a family member to film, as that person should also be grieving. Then again, unless it’s a multi-angle video extravaganza, planting a tripod and pressing record should be sufficient. If this is seen as a high-tech hot funeral accessory and someone is willing to pay for it, though, shouldn’t that person be allowed to? (and some of these places look pretty professional, such as …and expensive.).

I guess it comes down to demand. In the meantime, we have to put up with them cultivating a market. Hard to say whether it will survive…., hard to figure out who is behind that curtain. I try not to judge until I know who I am dealing with and verify what they have said or done.

Many in the funeral biz are good folks and many are not.

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