web funerals

It is fast becoming the modern way of dying, appreciated by some but frowned on by others.

A growing number of crematoriums are fitting webcams in their premises so that mourners can watch funeral proceedings from thousands of kilometres away.

The development is seen by some as a way of allowing grieving friends and relatives who would otherwise miss the occasion to take part.

But many - particularly more traditional undertakers - fear webcam funerals may be used as an excuse for not attending services in person, denying the family of the deceased the personal support so crucial to the grieving process.

One of Britain's leading funeral directors has said that while it may be useful for relatives living abroad there is a danger that live streaming will "pander to people's laziness".

A recent survey of funeral directors found that 61 per cent of them had received requests to stream services, and one-fifth of Britain's 281 crematoriums already have webcams in place.

A digital camera discreetly set up in the crematorium chapel captures the service, which can then be watched at any computer terminal around the world, usually accessed with a secure username and password issued to the viewer.

However, some are warning that modern technology could "let people off the emotional hook".

Paul Allcock, president of the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, said it would be a shame if streaming became too prevalent.

"In many cases there's an appropriate request for it, such as when mourners live a distance away.

"But my main concern is that it's too convenient for those that don't want to make the effort of attending when perhaps they should," he said.

He added that a few kind words with the bereaved at the service or the gathering that followed formed an integral part of a funeral, and no amount of sophisticated technology could replace the personal touch.

"It's wonderful for those relatives who live abroad, but there's also a danger of pandering to people's laziness and not attending personally and sharing your condolences, which is such an important part of the grieving process.

"Many funeral directors will tell you that a few kind words shared over a sandwich after the funeral can never be replaced by watching the event from a distance via a web camera."

First appeared on Stuff.co.nz.

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