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Technology’s Impact on the 21st Century Funeral

October 31, 2018

Written by Charles “Ebbie” Alfree III, Director of Advancement 

The use of technology has become the great pastime for the 21st century. With smartphones dominating almost everyone in the world…individuals are constantly communicating with family members, friends, and colleagues through texts, emails, social media posts, etc.

We are seeing a continuous stream of people’s thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes, as well as knowing of their whereabouts and what they’re doing. Most posts are also accompanied with pictures or videos. We now go along with people to see their children’s sporting events, witness them signing a deed to their first house, attend a friend’s wedding…even a funeral. Yes, I wrote funeral!

Some people check-in everywhere they go today, and this includes funeral homes. But that’s only if they actually go to the funeral home for a service.

Most funeral homes have pages on their websites that allow families to post a picture of their loved one and a passage about the person. When people visit the page, they can leave messages of condolences. This is a nice option for people to remember a loved one, and for those who are unable to attend the service, due to distance, illness or another legitimate reason.

“Using a memorial page is an added value to a person’s funeral arrangements, not to be used in lieu of attending a service,” commented Christopher Feryo, Funeral Director of Founds Funeral Home. “It seems that more and more people think their messages are enough and they do not physically have to come to services.”

How Social Media Plays A Roll at A Funeral

The use of technology, whether it’s a funeral home’s webpage or a person’s own social media platform, is a wonderful way to share memories of individuals who have passed or to reach out to families and friends with words of comfort. As Mr. Feryo stated, “People should still plan to attend the funerals. Having support from family members and friends is important at times of loss.”

For those who are attending services, some are using technology in a fashion that can be seen as inappropriate. Taking pictures of the deceased is not completely uncommon, but today some people are taking selfies at funerals.

According to the article, Stop taking selfies at funerals’ say funeral directors in The Telegraph, there are funeral homes that now have rules limiting selfies and funeral directors are telling attendees that the families do not want selfies taken during services. Taking selfies can be considered impolite but furthermore, posting the pictures on social media can be upsetting to the deceased’s family.

There are times that using technology at funerals is acceptable. “Having the ability to live stream during a service helps those who truly are unable to attend, still take part in the service,” said Mr. Feryo. “We once had a person who got stuck in traffic and could not make it to the burial for a loved one. However, a person at the burial was able to live stream the service and she was able to watch it on her phone.”

Although there is not an official rule book on the usage of technology at funerals, people should use good judgement before pulling out their smartphone and remember it is a time for grieving and supporting those who have lost a loved one.

Printed in the Daily Local News on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.