Online Memorial Service with breakout rooms

Live streaming funerals and online memorial services are becoming a norm for many who are grieving the death of a loved one.  In Australia and New Zealand the lockdowns are still happening with ‘stay at home’ orders in many regions. In NSW, funerals are limited to ten guests. People cannot travel internationally or cross state borders to be with their loved ones – it is heartbreaking and often very lonely – especially for those who live on their own – when usually families come to be together to share stories, memories, tears and laughter.

In April 2020 just after Covid19 began I released the free Online Funeral and Memorial Guide which has supported many celebrants and families to hold online services. Helen Rutledge, a celebrant in New Zealand, who attended some of my sessions, wrote last week.

“I just wanted to say a personal “thank you” for your post on, “Why You Want A Physicist at Your Funeral”. Really, your post couldn’t have  come at a better time. I shared some of it as part of my friend’s Virtual Memorial yesterday, and the feedback from both family and friends has been just amazing.

It was a very large ceremony which had been planned as a large ceremony in a community venue with a small number of people attending on-line. However, with our lockdown, we changed it to being fully on-line. We had 112 computers on Zoom, many of which had more than one person sitting in front of them, so we are estimating we had about 150 people on line from all over the world. It worked just perfectly. Well, the odd hitch, but nothing that couldn’t be rectified!

I wanted to share an idea put forward by my friend’s son, who did all the IT stuff, which was wonderful! His suggestion was to have breakout rooms at the end of the ceremony for 15 minutes for everyone … his idea was so that everyone could actually say something, but I saw it as a way of supporting people who were sharing in the ceremony on their own. It worked just SO well – 5 in a breakout room with the prompt to “share your connection with xxx”  and “any feelings you’d like to share about today”. We then all came back to the large group for a quick “thanks, again, for coming … bye and blessings”. 

Thank you Helen!