How to Live Stream a Funeral
Coronavirus had made funerals more complicated for families, as governments either ban or advise against both unnecessary travel and large gatherings of people. Even pre-Coronavirus, there have always been people who haven’t been able to attend the funerals they would like to, due to distance, pre existing obligations, and other hurdles.
Adding live streaming is a fantastic way to include all family members and friends in a funeral, memorial service, or celebration of life, regardless of whether or not they’re able to be there in person.
Live streaming involves setting up a camera (on a phone, tablet or laptop) and broadcasting an event live to viewers in other locations. It’s similar to a live broadcast done at a news station, except anyone can do it. The general overview for a live stream is you’d set up a camera, connect to a live streaming service, and invite friends and family to watch the stream on the live streaming service. Most live streaming services have an app that can be downloaded, or you can just share the link to your stream with anyone who would like to attend.
Step 1: Select a service
The type of service you’ll use can change depending on the type of device you’ll be using to live stream the funeral. If you have access to a desktop computer, your options will be a bit wider. Before setting up any stream, we highly recommend checking with your event location as to whether or not there will be WiFi capability. If there isn’t WiFi, you can still stream using your data plan, but be forewarned that streaming does use a lot of data.
YouTube will allow you to live stream using their desktop app (meaning you’ll need a laptop or desktop computer and a webcam) at any time. If you’re interested in only using your phone, you’ll need at least 1,000 subscribers, unfortunately. (If you have any kids or grandkids with active YouTube accounts, it might be worth reaching out to them to see if they’d be willing to share their accounts.)
You can set the stream to private and invite all guests via email or an invite link to avoid any unwanted guests.
Facebook is a good choice since many people already have a Facebook and are familiar with the layout, so there won’t be too much teaching involved when it comes to showing people how to use the platform. You also have a few different options when it comes to privacy settings for your live stream. You can choose to broadcast the live video publicly (not recommended) or only to your Friends. If you broadcast the stream live on Facebook, anyone (even if they don’t have a Facebook account) can watch the stream. If you choose to make the stream private (for friends only or only for a certain Facebook group) anyone watching will need to have an account. If you have people that would like to tune into the broadcast who aren’t your friends (and who you don’t plan on adding), you can create a private Facebook Group for the purpose of the funeral. You can create a Facebook Group, invite all of those who RSVP’d on Ever Loved or who you know would like to attend the livestream, and broadcast only to the Facebook Group.
Instagram is a good option to those who have a lot of family and friends that primarily use Instagram; however, it may not be the best option if you want to ensure that everyone can easily access the live stream, as many older people don’t have Instagram accounts. In order for this to best work, we recommend creating a specific Instagram account for the purposes of broadcasting the funeral. Instagram is primarily a mobile application, so you’ll need to stream the funeral by phone. Here’s a guide on how to go live on Instagram.
Zoom allows you to host meetings and webinars, easily. You can set up a meeting, invite your attendees, and stream the funeral with ease. Zoom also includes a chat feature, a waiting room feature, and the ability to mute attendees on entrance to avoid awkward unmuted mics during the service. If you'd like to set up a stream with Zoom or host a meeting, you can get started here. It's also worth checking out their Zoom Pro package for $14.99/month, since it increases the amount of accepted attendees to 100.
Step 2: Share the link and plan with your friends & family
Once you decide how you’ll be live streaming, share that information with friends and family. The easiest way to do this is to add the information to your Ever Loved website. When you create a Funeral Event on Ever Loved, you'll want to tick the box that says "I'd like to live stream this event so people can watch it online." Make sure you've pasted the embed link to your stream and anyone who visits your Ever Loved website will be able to watch the stream by clicking the Watch button. If you need more information, check out our guide on setting up a livestream.
If you're hosting a Zoom service, be sure to include the meeting information in the Additional Information section of the Events section on your memorial website.
It also helps to share a schedule of events, especially if you’re planning to change locations and the live stream will turn off and on.
Step 3: Choose your recording spot
It’s a good idea to choose the spot you’ll be recording ahead of time and test the recording on a live stream. Ask someone to view the live stream and see if it’s a good spot or if any adjustments need to be made to the camera placement. It’s also a good idea to invest in some kind of stand or table for your laptop or phone to sit propped up on, as recording by holding the device will most likely be tiring.
Step 4: Designate a host
Hosts should monitor the stream, ensure there's no one in the waiting room (if on Zoom & enabled), check for technical problems, and ensure that everything is going smoothly with the stream. The last thing you want during a livestreamed funeral is for the camera to not be working, the audio not to be working, or the stream to be broken entirely -- without your knowledge. The designated host should be available to monitor issues, help attendees, troubleshoot and common issues, and should probably be technically savvy.
Step 5: Engage live stream watchers
If you’d like to have participation from others at the funeral, you may also want to give people watching on the live stream a way to interact.
Some ways to engage with the audience:
- Ask friends & family to submit their favorite photos on your Ever Loved memorial website beforehand.
- Ask friends & family to submit stories they’d like read aloud at the funeral beforehand and designate someone to read them at the funeral.
- Encourage people to post on your Ever Loved website with any comments or thoughts that come up during the service.
Accommodating people in many locations can feel difficult and stressful, but is also a good way to ensure that everyone can take part in honoring the life of your loved one. Live streams are fairly common and most people will know how to interact with most of the interfaces we’ve listed here. If anyone is confused, it’s a good idea to point them in the direction of help articles so that they can watch the live stream easily.
With all that being said, it can be easier to just have a service do all of this for you. Services like GatheringUs make it so that you don't have to deal with the technical aspects of hosting and setting up a livestream for a funeral and can instead focus on what's important to you. These services make it so that choosing the right online platform, figuring out schedules, handling technical trouble, engaging the audience, and hosting a service all on your own aren't things you need to worry about.
Keep your family and friends up to date with any event changes by utilizing your Ever Loved website. Any time you make a major change to your memorial website, you’ll have the option to notify subscribers of the changes.
And finally, remember that there isn’t one right way to hold a funeral. For example, if very few people are able to attend due to travel restrictions, you could live cast a burial now and hold a memorial service or celebration of life later in the year when more people are able to attend in person.