Because our culture is becoming comfortable engaging with others on digital platforms such as Facebook Live and Zoom, we are seeing live streaming of every kind of in-person meeting from business meetings to church services to funeral and memorial services. With the pandemic keeping so many at home, a new norm is beginning to surface.

The National Funeral Directors Association states that, “Nearly half of NFDA-member funeral homes have started offering live streaming options since the onset of COVID-19, offering widespread accessibility to loved ones who are unable to be physically present for a service. NFDA expects this trend to continue as social distancing becomes the norm for the foreseeable future”.

How Does Live Streaming Work?

As 2020 begins it’s last quarter, we are seeing how attending a livestream funeral can bring the togetherness that is desperately needed for families struggling with deep sorrow. If you have been invited to such a time, you may be wondering how it all works and what is expected of you as an attendee to a live streamed funeral. Read on for tips to be prepared as you think about attending and sharing your grief with others.

How to Attend:

According to rememberingalife.com, “Many funeral homes are equipped to webcast a funeral service for guests who are unable to attend. This option provides you with the opportunity to invite family and friends to watch the service from the comfort of their home”. Some funeral homes will provide an option for families to hire an outside live streaming company to film the funeral from many different angles and produce a high quality live streaming event for others to participate in. Other times, a funeral home will permit a guest to livestream the funeral from their phone using Facebook Live or Zoom. 

Regardless of which service is used to livestream the event, online attendees will usually only need a computer or smartphone, a link, and possibly a password. If you read about the death in an obituary and wish to attend, contact the funeral home for any information needed. 

Get There Early

If you have never live streamed before, go ahead and test out the platform before the service begins. At least 30 minutes before it starts, turn your computer on and click the link. If there are any issues with connecting to the event or learning how to use the platform with your computer’s mic and camera, you will have time to find answers before it starts. Remember that the funeral home is a valuable resource to turn to for help if you need it. Live Streaming usually begins about 10 minutes before the event starts.

What to Wear

As with attending a funeral or memorial service in person, wear clothing that honors the focus of the event. Neutral colors convey a sense of modesty and understanding that you respect the seriousness of the pain others are facing. Avoid large or overly dramatic jewelry and bright patterns and colors that draw attention to yourself. Others will appreciate that you dressed carefully to show your respect for the family and the deceased.


With any live platform, there will be an area to write in comments and chat with others in attendance. On Facebook Live, you can write comments in or reply to comments that have already been made. It is best to keep your comments appropriate to the entire gathering. 

What NOT to Say

Your comments are not private and should be free of harsh language or critical observations of any kind. Any gossipy or judgmental statements directed toward the deceased or other attendees are not part of this process. If you need to discuss difficult personal situations involving the family or the deceased, set up a one on one phone conversation or a private video conference for another time. Your role in an online service is to express your sadness and remember the life of the deceased in a kind way. 

What to Say

Appropriate comments are remembrances of your relationship with the deceased that are funny or heartfelt or that capture part of the personality of the deceased. An online memorial is about remembering and celebrating the life of the deceased with respect to the loved ones who are blanketed in deep sorrow as they miss their beloved friend or family member.


Some platforms also allow you to answer questions posed by the family about how you knew the deceased or  ask you to share a story about your times with the deceased. One way to prepare for a livestream event is to go ahead and write down some stories and memories involving the deceased that you would like to share. When you are at the service, you will be able to participate with less anxiety as you share.

Watch Later

If you can’t make the online service because of a prior commitment, you can often watch the entire recorded event and see previous comments. Many funeral homes will post the event online for a period of time for those who could not attend. If you are close to the family, you’ll still want to contact them personally to express your sorrow, send flowers, and share any fond memories. 

Your Community

Even though we live in a time where livestreaming is necessary, we don’t have to face the grieving process alone. Others are just a phone call or text away. Take the time to reach out if you need some connection. We live in community and are all responsible for each other. Don’t let the pandemic keep you from being “there” for others in meaningful ways. An online service is an opportunity to grieve with others and express your sorrow with each other. Now that you understand more, attend and be part of the healing.

Seek Help

A funeral home director is often the resource that bereaved families turn to when shock and grief paralyze their ability to make the necessary decisions. Funeral home professionals are experienced with the process of death and grief. They understand what families are going through and the complicated menagerie of difficult emotions and shock that all are facing. They see time and again the importance of togetherness and the sharing of deep sadness with loved ones so that no one feels alone in their grief.

If you have any questions about how live streaming works or what is appropriate for an online funeral or memorial service, contact your local funeral home. Their business is knowing how to help grieving families and friends work through their pain journey and make good decisions together about the process of letting go. If your issues involve grief or imminent death, they will be an invaluable resource in your search for answers.