How to Host a Zoom Memorial Service

“When you treat people nice, people will treat you twice as nice.”

Roger Chan

Let’s be honest. You’re not prepared for this.

Who is?

Funerals have a way of entering our lives most unexpectedly.

You may find yourself having to host a funeral when it’s not possible to gather in person. Like we had to.

If you need to organize an online funeral or memorial service, here are some tips and suggestions for what we did.

Get your team of family and friends together to plan

Our "Task Force" used Whatsapp and Google docs to plan the agenda and to share information.

After you decide a date and time, send out a "Save the Date!"

People will want to know when the service is. We used evite, which has pivoted to virtual events, to invite people. Evite allows people to RSVP and will remind them when the event is about to happen. You can just send a calendar invite if you want to keep it simple.

Tip: Online events can confuse people in different timezones. Since we had family in North America and Asia, we had to pick a time that was good on both continents. Make sure that everyone knows when the event is in THEIR TIMEZONE. You cannot overcommunicate to people when exactly the event is if it is spread over more than one timezone.

Create a shared folder or album for photos and videos.

You’ll want to create a shared home for photos and videos of your loved one. We used Google photos and it was a heartwarming and heartbreaking to see new pictures pop up every day. The pictures were also the source of a slideshow tribute that we created. Invite friends and family, but don’t make it publicly shared.

Set up online public memorial site.

We used Kudoboard, but there are others like Forever Missed and GatheringUs. The memorial will be the place where you post an obituary and information about the deceased including info about memorial gifts or donations.

Tip: Minimize sharing personal identifiable information (PII) such as birthdate or date of passing in your obituary to reduce chances of identity theft. Don’t go overboard, but don’t make it easy for someone to steal your loved one’s identity.

Pick a video meeting system and make sure that key people can access and use it.

Our family used Zoom. Zoom is mostly a work and school platform and is not that familiar in Hong Kong and China. China is known to block certain online sites so always do a test with your family and friends. Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are good alternatives.

Make sure that you have the ability to share screen and record the session. Invariably, someone will ask you for the recording.

Also test, test, test that their Internet connection and computers can handle Zoom.

If they are on the program, offer family and friends the option of pre-recording tributes.

Zoom makes it easy to share recordings during the session, either as a video or audio. Doing it this way allows you to better manage the time people speak and to reduce any technology issues that might crop up.

Create a powerpoint that you can share afterwards

There will be information you’ll want to share such as where your loved one is buried, where to make donations, and other tidbits.

Conclusion

It’s never easy to plan a funeral, especially during a pandemic. This past year, we’ve been to an online funeral and we organized one.

If googling brought you here, rest assured, you will find a way to do it right and celebrate the life of your loved one. I wish you the best.

Uncle Roger, I miss you lots. I hope we did good.

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