Funeral Etiquette for Livestreamed Funerals

The presence of family and friends at a memorial service is supportive and healing. While social distancing may restrict our ability to attend in person, virtual services offer us the opportunity to honor our loved one and show our support to the family without risking health or safety.


Here are a few tips on how to actively participate in a Facebook Live video memorial service:

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1. Know the date, time and livestreaming link.

Make sure you have the time and date of each service. Find your loved one's obituary. If a service time is not listed, you can sign up to receive a text or email notification when services are updated. Set up a reminder on your phone or smart speaker to make sure you attend on time.

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2. Get Facebook alerts when services begin.

To be alerted when the livestream has started on Facebook Live, be sure to like the funeral home or cemetery's Facebook page before the service. You can usually find the link on the obituary. At the time of the service, you will get a phone notification (depending on your phone's settings). If you don't have a Facebook account, you can still view a service, but you won't be able to make any comments.

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3. Join the livestream a little early.

It is still important to be on time to a livestreamed service. Remember, family members won't be likely to check their phones after the service begins. Join the livestream ahead of time so they know others are with them.

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4. Consider driving to the funeral home and attending the livestream service from your car.

Your presence, even from the parking lot, will be meaningful to the family, and you can participate in the procession to the cemetery, where few surfaces are touched and it is easier to keep minimum distances between guests. Be mindful of your cellular data plan when you are streaming video without wifi. Please follow local regulations for safety and face coverings, and please stay home if you're sick.

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5. Let them know you're attending virtually.

A simple "I'm here with you," or "we are watching now," in the comments on the livestream will go a long way to lending comfort to those who are attending in person. Don't forget to mention the names of anyone watching with you. Even though it can be hard to know what to say, it's better to say a little something than nothing at all. Read more about what to say when someone dies.

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6. Be extra careful about your comments online.

It's even more important to go the extra mile to let the family know you care when you're attending virtually, but it's sometimes harder for your voice and tone to be understood. Avoid any jokes or sarcasm that might come across fine in person, but not online. Try a simple, "I'm so sorry," or, "Our thoughts and prayers are with you." Read more about condolence messages.

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7. Be mindful with emoji.

Emoji symbols are useful where appropriate throughout the service to share your feelings. Hearts, sad faces and prayer hands are popular choices that can capture the sentiment of a hug or prayer. Avoid using the thumbs up, as it can be misunderstood.

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8. Use the link on the online obituary to send flowers or sympathy gifts to let the family know you’re thinking about them.

For those who prefer funeral flowers, families will continue to appreciate the kind gesture delivered to the service. Floral arrangements may be sent to the funeral home for decoration of the chapel and graveside services, which will be visible to viewers at home. You can also opt to send a flower arrangement, plant, gourmet food basket, meal or other sympathy gifts directly to the family's home. No contact is necessary for deliveries. Visit the funeral home website to send flowers.

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9. Support them long past the service.

Remember, grief stretches well after any funeral service. Consider sending written cards or condolence gifts like gourmet food baskets and meals to loved ones to let them know you’re thinking of them in the days and weeks following the service. Or, create a meal train for food delivery from many family members and friends. While a visit may not be possible, you can connect face-to-face via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom to share memories and offer continued support and sympathy