What to Know Before Attending a Funeral via Zoom
Zoom funerals and other virtual funerals have seen a huge boost in popularity since the beginning of the pandemic. If you’ve never attended a virtual funeral, it may seem confusing or a little more technical than you’re used to. Not to fear, zoom funeral services are easy to attend and an excellent option if you’re unable to attend a funeral in person.
How do I attend a Zoom funeral service?
First, you’ll need to download Zoom either on your phone or on your computer. Attending a Zoom funeral service is as easy as clicking the link provided or entering the meeting ID and password into Zoom. If you know a service will be held virtually, request the Zoom information or find it posted on the memorial website. When it comes time to attend, simply input the meeting information and you’re good to go.
Do I need a computer to attend a Zoom funeral?
You do not need a computer to attend a Zoom funeral; you can attend on any smartphone. If you plan to use a phone, make sure you download the Zoom app to your phone prior to the funeral service.
I don’t have a webcam; can I still attend?
You can still attend a virtual funeral, even if you don’t have a webcam. You will want to ensure that your computer’s microphone and speakers work before attending the services, since having a speaker is required to hear anything. You’ll be able to see others but they won’t be able to see you.
Zoom Funeral Tips: Things to check
Making sure you don’t commit a technical foul is all the more important when attending an event such as a funeral. The last thing you want is for your unmuted microphone to be blaring over the speakers as someone tries to deliver a eulogy, so staying present and aware of your surroundings (both in person and online) is paramount when attending such an event.
Test your software and hardware set up before attending.
Does your microphone work? Does your camera work? Does your sound work? Can people hear you? Can you hear them? Test and answer these questions long before the services are scheduled to make sure you’re prepared and ready when the time comes.
Make sure you have everything that you need downloaded beforehand.
If you don’t have Zoom downloaded or an up-to-date browser installed, you should do this beforehand. Don’t wait until the last minute to install Zoom or update your browser as you can run into unexpected problems and technical difficulties that could cause you to be late to the services.
Show up on time.
Try your very best to show up to the funeral on time (ideally a little early). The Zoom meeting may have a waiting room where you have to stay until a host can let you in, and it’s possible that the host stops paying attention to new folks in the waiting room while the service is ongoing, so you may not be let in if you’re late. Avoid this problem by showing up on time, ready to go.
Don’t be camera shy.
If the family or Zoom host requests that friends and family show up to the services with their cameras on, it’s respectful to join in on having your camera turned on, if you have one. Some families may have the Zoom funeral service as their primary method of seeing the faces of those they’d otherwise see in person, and it can help everyone to feel connected and supported by one another during such a difficult time.
Stay muted when not speaking.
The Zoom host can mute everyone in the meeting on their end (and can also automatically mute folks who enter into the meeting), but it’s always a good idea to triple check that you’re muted when attending a Zoom funeral. If you have to temporarily unmute because you’re speaking at the funeral, always remember to double check that you’ve muted yourself again after asking to avoid annoying background noise for everyone else attending the meeting.
Dress for the occasion.
Sure, you’re on Zoom, but does that mean you should show up to a funeral service in your pajamas? Definitely not! While you don’t necessarily need to dress to the nines, it’s a good idea to show up to the service in a similar fashion to what you’d wear were you to attend in person. (This includes wearing pants -- you’ll never know when you need to unexpectedly stand, and you don’t want to join the club of folks who forget that they’re pantsless during a Zoom meeting.) It’s also a good idea to show up to the virtual funeral service well groomed and clean.
Stay present, and turn off your camera if you need to leave.
You may find it difficult to stay engaged and keep focused for the entirety of the funeral service, which is entirely normal. If you find yourself losing focus or wanting to take a quick break from Zoom, simply turn off your camera and take a little time to yourself. Make sure your microphone is muted during this time especially to avoid causing distractions for other attendees.
Be aware of distractions and keep them out of sight.
While you’ll want to be comfortable when attending an online funeral, it’s considered good Zoom funeral etiquette to ensure that you’re not causing distractions for other folks attending the services. If you have your camera on, this means making sure you’re not playing with your pets, eating food, talking with someone on or off camera, speaking on your phone, or just generally not paying attention to what’s happening on the screen. If you’re at home with your family (and they aren’t attending), it can help to go to a quiet spot in your home and ask for privacy when attending the service.
RSVP if requested.
Even if the funeral services are taking place virtually and no one is allowed to attend in person, it’s still nice to send along an RSVP so that the family knows who is coming, who isn’t, and who they may have forgotten to send an invitation to. You can easily RSVP if they’ve set up an Ever Loved memorial website by going to the Events tab and listing your RSVP status.
If asked to speak, be prepared and double check your settings.
If you’re asked to speak at a virtual funeral, you should triple check that your audio settings are working properly and that folks can hear you. You can set up your own private Zoom meeting and ask a friend or family member to attend it before the funeral service to ensure that they can hear you properly. At the time of the funeral service, make sure that your microphone is set to the correct microphone and your speakers are set to the correct speakers by clicking on the microphone button in the bottom left hand corner of Zoom. If this funeral service requests speakers be on camera (most do), you should make sure your camera is working before it’s time to speak.
Share your condolences separately or during a designated time.
If the family requests an open mic session and invites people to share their condolences over audio at a specific time, feel free to engage with others over audio. If it’s a more silent affair, it’s usually best to keep your microphone off and have any conversation over chat. You can also offer condolences on the family’s memorial website, if they’ve set one up.
Utilize the chat box in lieu of speaking over others.
If you have something to say to someone else in attendance, make use of Zoom’s chatbox feature. Using the chatbox will let you chat with others without disrupting others. Try to be mindful of the conversations you’re having over chat, though, and avoid chatting about things that are better kept private or dealt with at another time (such as catching up with someone you haven’t seen in a while). You can also send messages directly to a specific person in Zoom by clicking on the name above your chatbox, so you’ll want to double check that you’re messaging the person / group you’re intending to message.
Avoid asking the host technical questions.
If you run into a technical problem or issue, or have a question that could easily be answered with a Google search, save it for Google or for someone that’s near you. Try not to bother the host of the Zoom meeting with technical questions and troubleshooting assistance since they’re likely trying to juggle many other things at once, including attending the funeral.
If you’re attending an online funeral service, you may want to consider sending flowers to the physical location of the services or to the family separately. Flowers are a great way to send your sympathies and condolences in the case that you can’t attend (or decide not to attend in person).