Livestreaming Funerals: Is This The New Norm?

Funeral home directors say livestreaming services has spiked amid the pandemic.
Posted at 2:27 PM, Apr 06, 2020

As the coronavirus death toll continues to rise across the country, states like New York are seeing scenes like this:

“This video without a doubt is very disturbing. But we needed to get this message out to the community so people will understand just how serious this situation is. There's still people out there saying it's fake and it's not real. What we wanted to make sure is that people understand that it is very much real,” Corey L. Teague said.

There are reports of families waiting days and even weeks before they are able to give their loved one a proper burial.

But funeral home owners, like Walker Posey in South Carolina, say they are well prepared to handle any surge in services due to the pandemic.

"The greatest impact we've seen is just people having to limit the size of the actual funeral service itself. We know that the gathering is what's so important because socially, how we interact and feel better, is through seeing our friends come support us. So getting families accustomed to having no gathering basically — we're just limited to private family gatherings — has been a big adjustment,” Posey said.

His funeral home also offers livestreaming, a service he says has been available for more than a decade.

90% of his customers are now choosing webcast services compared to 10% in 2019.

“So we'll have a private family service, streamed live, or recorded and uploaded for folks to be able to see later so their friends can then participate. Things like Facebook Live technology, we have our webcasting technology to allow us to actually stream the service live ... and so the community can participate and see as well,” Posey said.

The pandemic has had less of an impact in the Carolinas than in some other states.

The Department of Defense is preparing for worst-case scenarios by providing 100,000 military-style body bags to FEMA for dispersement.

In a statement to Newsy, a FEMA spokesperson said in part:

“FEMA is aware of many states’ planning efforts to account for mortuary contingencies and has increased its posture to support these requests once received from the states. Prudent planning for these future conditions is taken very seriously by FEMA, and we are working with Regional and State health and emergency managers to ramp up available assets to meet contingency needs for the most affected areas.” 

Posey says he'll continue to provide burial services. But he is also working with state and local disaster response teams to get equipment he and his staff need to stay safe and healthy.

“We're in line just like everyone else, hoping that that we do receive the things we need to be protected,” he added.