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Ceremonies to Celebrate Together From Afar

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Updated: Thursday, March 26, 2020
Ceremonies to Celebrate Together From Afar

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am reaching out to you because you have been a resource and guide for families.

Times are so very strange and challenging and fearful right now and we know that everyone is scrambling to figure out how we honor our dead and support our bereaved from a distance. This is our daily struggle. I know you are dealing with so many questions and unknowns and facing families on their worst day with very few answers to give them. I also know that many churches and clergy are not available to conduct funerals for anyone—even their own church members. Local governments across the world are already telling families they cannot attend funerals. Now we are faced with a world-wide experience that no one could prepare for. We are here, to care for the dead and speak for the bereaved. You are a hero every day, and especially today.

Now is our time to shine. Whether you are a licensed funeral director, a Celebrant, clergy, officiant, chaplain—or one of those myriads of other roles who serve families—we have a bunch of talented and creative people here. Let's think about how to create services that capture the moment and invite people to feel close even when they can't be there.

Download Free Resource Ceremonies to Celebrate Together From AfarWhat I want to offer to each of you is this—if you have families who would like to have a small service now, reach out to a Celebrant in your area, or use my free resource to inspire you, and find a way to connect families at this difficult time. Arrange to meet with them by phone or Facetime or Zoom and gather the stories and put together a service that you can give them now by webcast, or just by print.

Some of you may find yourself needing to do more family meetings by phone, Facetime or Skype. If you are not familiar with how to do those, ask a teenager—they are out of school with nothing to do right now so they can be your tech support.

Phone family meetings are challenging and you will need to work a little harder to connect with the family and to get them to open up. There's just nothing like face-to-face meetings, but that may not be possible right now.

Some of you may find yourself doing services via webcasting or video or for family only. These situations can also be challenging, but just keep focusing on meeting the needs of the family and the best way to tell the unique story of their loved one, no matter who is sitting in front of you. Or not, as the case may be.

For example—virtual candle lighting ceremonies—invite everyone who is watching to go find a candle/flashlight/something that can light up. Play some quiet background music to give people a moment to do that. Then have everyone light their lights at the same time. Even if you are not on a virtual platform where people can see each other, we can talk about the power of thoughts and presence being represented by our lights.

That's just one that popped into my head.

My thought is two-fold—the fear is, if they walk away now they’ll never come back. If they have a service already prepared and ready, they might be more willing to come back and actually have a chapel service. Or, at the least, they will just have the words to read that will hopefully provide some comfort and guidance for them in this very dark and lonely time and they will be grateful to the funeral home for providing this.

Grief does not wait and demands that we embrace it. We all are grieving our losses right now--loss of movement, loss of income, loss of friends and family, loss of security, loss of trust. A death just magnifies those feelings and the sense of isolation. As the people who are trained for this work, we can help families walk this path and give words of solace and comfort and ways to put the stories in a place that will help.

Every life deserves to be celebrated. Even when we are together from afar.

These are difficult times, for the families, for the funeral directors, for the Celebrants, for everyone. So, let's support each other, be kind, be generous, be vigilant—and wash your hands!

Let me know how we can stand with you in this uncertain time. We are all partners in serving families, even on the hardest days.

Take care and be well!!

- Glenda Stansbury and Doug Manning
Celebrant Trainers:  Kathy Burns, Matt Bailey, Cathy Nichols, Sara Brown

Suggestions for conducting services

The first thing to consider is how the services will be presented.

Some firms already offer webcasting and are comfortable and positioned for this situation. Others will be figuring out very rapidly how to procure the equipment and software and skills.

There are professional companies that offer streaming services on a per service or a monthly fee. You have probably already been contacted by some of these companies in the past few days.

There are public platforms such as Zoom, Facebook Live, Go to Meeting, WebX, etc. Consult with others who have used any of these platforms or services for advice or tips on what works or pitfalls to avoid. For example, Gordon Welch, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Funeral Directors Association informed us that Facebook routinely mutes music streamed on Facebook Live. Apparently, Facebook’s agreements with song producers require Facebook to mute music broadcast over the platform. Unfortunately, BMI, ASCAP and SESAC are not parties to these agreements so there is no way to solve the muting problems with Facebook. Therefore platforms like Zoom, Vimeo or Skype who are not parties to the same type of music copyright infringements agreements work better but still require a webcasting license.

Live Stream with family present with no participants visible on the screen.

Suggestions:

  • Give the family a moment to wave and express their thanks to the people who are joining them.
  • Ask the participants to type in their wishes or condolences in the chat function and take a few minutes to read some of them during the service.
  • Have a video tribute or pictures of the deceased visible on the screen next to the officiant.
  • Be sure that flowers or mementos or service folders are shown for everyone to see.
  • Have a favorite or familiar song played and put the words on the screen so everyone can sing along.
  • Put the words to readings or scripture or prayers on the screen so viewers can read along.
Live Stream with or without family present and participants are visible on the screen

Suggestions:

  • Ask the participants to write a note that can be held up to the camera for the family to see.
  • Have a ceremony (a few are included in this resource book) that everyone can do together.
  • Have a video tribute or pictures of the deceased visible on the screen next to the officiant.
  • Be sure that flowers or mementos or service folders are shown for everyone to see.
  • Have a favorite or familiar song played and put the words on the screen so everyone can sing along.
  • Put the words to readings or scripture or prayers on the screen so viewers can read/recite along.
Taping for later broadcast
  • This provides a little more opportunity for editing and smoother transitions to video tribute, music, flowers, service folders, etc.
  • The opportunity for real time participation and family involvement is sacrificed.
Outside Services
  • Have a “drive-in” funeral service with everyone staying in their cars. If you have not yet invested in portable microphone/speakers set up, now would be a good time.
  • Borrow a drive-in theater in your community and broadcast the service on the screen
  • Drive past the home of the family with the coach.
  • Encourage people to drive by the home of the family at a set time, so they can acknowledge their “presence” and wishes.
  • Gravesides with family standing by their cars. Again, a strong outdoor microphone/speaker system is very important.


Download the free Ceremonies to Celebrate Together From Afar Resource for Challenging Times as a MS Word doc here.Download Free Resource Ceremonies to Celebrate Together From Afar

With everyone seeking information on COVID-19 right now, CANA plans to host a weekly conference call for our members to convene and ask questions of one another, talk best practices, and learn together about COVID-19. Check your inbox for instructions to join, or contact Membership Manager Brie Bingham for more information.

CANA continues to frequently update a blog entry related to COVID-19 as new information becomes available. Be sure to bookmark the blog post and revisit as needed: GoCANA.org/covid19.



Glenda Stansbury

Glenda Stansbury is the Marketing and Development Director, InSight Books, and Dean and Training Coordinator for In-Sight Institute. She holds a BS in Special Education from Central State University, as well as a BS in Funeral Service and a MA in Administrative Leadership from the University of Oklahoma. Before joining In-Sight Books, Glenda worked for 12 years for the Oklahoma Education Association as a trainer/facilitator. She has worked as Marketing and Development Director for In-Sight Books for 24 years and has been Dean of the In-Sight Institute for 20 years, co-training over 4000 Funeral Celebrants across North America with Doug Manning. She is a Certified Funeral Celebrant; Licensed Funeral Director/ Embalmer, Oklahoma; Certified Funeral Service Professional; Thanexus, New Jersey Board of Director; and Full Time Instructor- Department of Funeral Service, University of Central Oklahoma..

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Tags:  arranging  celebrants  personalization  services  storytelling  tips and tools 

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