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posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday December 16 2014, @05:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the telepresence dept.

Lex Berko writes in The Atlantic that although webcasting has been around since the mid-1990s, livestreamed funerals have only begun to go mainstream in the last few years and the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) has only this year introduced a new funeral webcasting license that permits funeral homes to legally webcast funerals that include copyrighted music. The webcast service’s growing appeal is, by all accounts, a result of the increasing mobility of modern society. Remote participation is often the only option for those who live far away or have other barriers—financial, temporal, health-related—barring them from attending a funeral. “It’s not designed to replace folks attending funerals,” says Walker Posey. “A lot of folks just don’t live where their family grew up and it’s difficult to get back and forth.” But some funeral directors question if online funerals are helpful to the grieving process and eschew streaming funerals live because they do not want to replace a communal human experience with a solitary digital one. What happens if there’s a technical problem with the webcast—will we grieve even more knowing we missed the service in person and online? Does webcasting bode well for the future of death acceptance or does it only promote of our further alienation from that inevitable moment? “The physical dead body is proof of death, tangible evidence that the person we love is gone, and that we will someday be gone as well,” says Caitlin Doughty, a death theorist and mortician. “To have death and mourning transferred online takes away that tangible proof. What is there to show us that death is real?”

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  • (Score: 2) by gidds on Friday December 19 2014, @11:39AM

    by gidds (589) on Friday December 19 2014, @11:39AM (#127444)

    I thought the point of funerals was to allow those who knew the deceased to gather physically and share one's griefs and memories rather than give the corpse a send off.

    Yes, and so physical presence is much better, for all the reasons you and others have said.

    But it's not always possible.

    I speak from experience of a few weeks ago, when a member of my extended family died after a long illness.  One of his children lives in a distant country and was unable to visit, having already having used more than a years' worth of leave from her new job to see him while he was still alive.  She was able to join in the informal memorial gathering via an iPad, and while of course it wasn't as good as being there, she said it was a real comfort to feel part of things nonetheless.

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