A Guide to Hosting an Online Memorial

Planning a memorial always presents unique challenges. We are often wading through grief and emotions while attempting to manage various logistics, people, costs, and more. Now, this commonly difficult process is further complicated. The pandemic has presented a set of restrictions that changes many aspects of our daily lives - including the way we memorialize our loved ones.

Or perhaps, regardless of the pandemic, it is merely difficult to gather everyone together for various other reasons. Maybe some friends and family live in other parts of the world, and they cannot travel.

Hosting an online memorial can provide an alternative to a traditional gathering or function as an additional way to celebrate and honor your loved one's life. However, online memorials are relatively new. Some of us have no idea where to start or how to make a virtual event happen.

In this article, we offer some guidance and ideas that we hope will help reduce the stress and confusion around hosting an online memorial.  

How to Plan a Virtual Memorial

online memorial

The plans for hosting a memorial online can be similar to a traditional memorial in many ways. Finding the right words and stories to share, offering a space to fellowship, and presenting images or videos of our loved ones is common with both, physical and virtual memorials.

But, of course, there are some challenges unique to hosting a virtual memorial online. Negotiating the technology and variety of spaces can be daunting. We want to offer some guidance on how to engage in this process.

Determine an Online Location

We spend a little extra time on this step because there are various resources available to host your virtual memorial online. Choosing a location online can have a lot to do with where the majority of your guests spend their time. Or, it could be influenced by the social media platform your loved one used most often. It could also depend on your internet resources or preferred features for the memorial.

Zoom. This platform has quickly become one of the most popular ways for people to communicate and gather since the pandemic began changing our lives worldwide. It is also a valuable option for hosting a memorial. You can easily set a date and send out RSVP invitations to a variety of guests. Attendees will receive details on the event and a link to click when it is time to start. The service can be recorded, and they have a feature that allows you to show a presentation with videos or images. There can be varying costs associated with the Zoom platform, depending on how much time you need or how many guests attend. You will want to review their monthly plans before making a commitment. 

Facebook Live. Unlike Zoom, you won't see the other attendees at the service. Still, the service is free to broadcast from your camera to anyone on the platform. Responding to comments on the live stream is an option. Since many people already use the Facebook platform, this can be an accessible and familiar way to host your memorial.

Skype. This option also allows you to deliver a call or stream to mobile phones or landlines, but there is a subscription fee involved with this feature. Skype also has free features that can offer a few extra options, like displaying a memorial photo in the background (on compatible devices). This might be appealing for hosting your service online while offering the flexibility of access for those on their phones.  

Dedicated Virtual Memorial Providers. There are also numerous services available that are dedicated to assisting with the planning and developing of virtual and online memorials. You can easily search for these providers on the internet if you’re looking for a more robust and complete service to assist in hosting your online memorial event.

Gamers. We know this option is considerably more specific, but it is an interesting opportunity for a memorial. You may have chosen to host an online memorial because your loved one spent a lot of time online or became a regular gamer. Opportunities exist to host a memorial service inside a game. People can be invited to join, or even play a game together in tribute. With a quick internet search, you can find out multiple companies who offer this service.

Core Elements for Your Service

Deciding on the most suitable platform for your memorial is one of the biggest tasks. Once this is complete, you can focus on other details for your event.

Similar to a traditional service, you will want to prepare some writing to be shared in a presentation that guests can access and read, like a program or flier. And, you will want to prepare text to be shared orally during the service. You may also want to produce a collage of photos and videos of your loved one to be displayed during the service.

There is also a decision to be made about whether to have a live stream available to anyone or a private stream or video conference that is invite-only. Whether private or public, you can choose to make your memorial interactive. Guests may want to post stories, thoughts, prayers, pictures, or videos. Comment sections can be used to share these memories or dialogue with one another following the formal service.

You may also wish to share the online memorial service more broadly. Posting a link to the event on your social media pages and asking others to share will help get the word out and provide the necessary details for time, location, and access.

It could also be valuable to produce a hashtag for the memorial service. Creating a hashtag helps others find the event, share it with others, or search relevant information after the service.

Create an Online Memorial Page and Obituary

There are many online memorial sites available that give you the ability to post an obituary of your loved one, include photos and videos, and give family and friends the ability to comment and share. One new site, in particular, is Ecorial and is focused around people who choose to Rest in Nature™, by having their ashes scattered, a tree burial, or other green burial. This unique app and technology gives you the ability to quickly and easily mark the exact GPS location of a loved one’s resting place (or places) in nature, along with a date and time stamp, and also makes it easy on families to quickly create an interactive online memorial page. Ecorial can be found online at ecorial.org and in the Apple App store (for iOS devices) and Google Play (for Android devices).

Further Resources

With the increased interest in cremation (due to the lower cost of cremation, among many other reasons), many families are choosing to scatter their loved one’s ashes at one or multiple places special to them.

This month, The Living Urn will be introducing a new ash scattering service that can be an attractive online memorial service option. We want to help provide safe and meaningful ways to honor and remember your loved one during these difficult times and beyond and believe this service can be helpful to families. Let us take care of the permitting and approvals for the selected location while performing and recording the scattering service. This allows you to focus on the other details of your online memorial while honoring your loved one and sharing their memory with friends and family.

Our Premium Ash Scattering Services will be performed by a professional staff at your chosen location, and the service can be recorded for sharing with others. You can even share the exact date, time, and GPS coordinates of the service for your online memorial. In partnership with the Ecorial app and website, our ash scattering services provide the exact location and time stamp, images of the scattering event, and an optional easy to create interactive memorial page.