Is Live Streaming a Funeral Appropriate?

I chose to take an issue that could be a little controversial and see what people think.  Live Streaming funerals. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and as you read on you will hear mine.

Some of you may ask… What is Live streaming a funeral? It means you can watch and hear the funeral from anywhere, as long as you have a computer and high-speed internet connection. (The video cannot play on the iPad or iPhone).

How this topic came to the forefront was that I recently attended the funeral of a friend’s 8 yr old son who passed away from an illness. The funeral was live streamed from South Dakota, many of the relatives were in Ohio and too elderly, sick, or financially not able to travel for the funeral. It was wonderful for those of us who wanted to be there but could not, and still feel as though we were participating.  It is the 2nd funeral I have attended via a live stream.

live streaming

It was fairly easy to do this. The funeral home provided instructions as well as where they posted an online journal of their son plus instructions. This is what I saw:  The funeral will be streamed for those that are not able to attend. This is a live stream, not a recording. To watch go to

In order to watch the stream, you have to create an account. This is an easy process which is free and just requires an email address. The account can be created beforehand and you don’t have to wait until the time of the funeral. When I went there it had the option to use your Facebook to login, which I chose.

Here are just some of the comments people shared later after attending the live stream. Over 200 people were watching the live stream of this amazing child.

May 1, 2015 11:56am

Thank you so much for making it possible to “attend” through live streaming (and tears streaming). Our hearts and prayers are with you all, knowing you look forward to the day you will be reunited with Carter, but knowing, too, that the coming days (and years) without him in your lives will be filled with mourning.

May 1, 2015 3:32am

Please know we are all there standing beside you! Thank you for all the updates and tireless perseverance you and your family has shown. I’m very sorry for our loss…yes…our…because the world lost a bright young man. Thank you for sharing him and giving us a peek into his story. Stay as strong as possible and if there’s anything we can do you for your or yours during this very difficult time, please don’t hesitate to say something.

 Apr 30, 2015 11:08pm

Thank you so much for thinking of those of us who would love to be there if we could. Grateful we can still be a part of it. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Apr 30, 2015 6:24am

What a wonderful idea and option for so many who will be there is spirit. Carter *and all of you* have touched so many lives in so many areas this will make us feel right there with you. Hugs.

The more you think of it most people move at least once in their lifetime from their hometown. Many of your High School friends move around the globe after graduation. You stay in touch via emails and Social Media, class reunions…  Live Streaming for a funeral in my opinion is just a “tool” for those who care to utilize it if they so wish to. My father passed away in April 2012, my sister was in Florida, sick and unable to attend. There were other friends of my dad’s that would’ve attended a live stream of his funeral had I known this option was available at that time.

casketI have a childhood friend whose family owns a funeral home.  I asked her what her thoughts were on live streaming and if their funeral home offered it.  She replied “Some Funeral Directors are against streaming funerals live because they do not want to replace the human experience with a digital one, and yet other Funeral Directors worry that if the quality of the video is poor, it will reflect badly on the Funeral Home.” She told me the technology to put funerals online has been around for a decade but has been slow to catch on because the funeral home industry is sensitive to what is good etiquette and bad etiquette when it comes to funerals.

After a person passes away, some religions are required by religious law to bury their dead within 24 hours. A friend of mine lost her father who had been living in Peru and with her being in Ohio there was no way she could be there within 24 hrs as it happened so suddenly. This would’ve been a nice alternative.

Many funeral homes are now adding this to their à la carte of services they provide when planning a funeral.

As with any new trend or new technology, there will be people who question whether this is appropriate or not. A big part of being at a funeral is to offer your support to the family and show that you cared enough to stop what you were doing and physically be there.

I can just see it now… people going to see how many signed on to view the streaming in much the same way they now look for how many ‘likes’ they get on Facebook.

Will people start to attend livestream events vs. physically being there?

As a child, I recall dressing up and going with my family to attend the funerals of distant relatives. It was something you just did, it was part of life. But as time has marched on and people are more mobile, disconnected from original hometowns, watching a funeral online can seem better than not going to a funeral at all. Social media, too, has redrawn the communal barriers of what is acceptable when relating to parents, siblings, friends and acquaintances.

grandfather and grandsons using a digital tablet

Though some will disagree with me, we are a YouTube society now. People are living more than ever online. If you want a phone number you don’t use a phone book anymore, you “Google it.” If you want to know how to do something, you go to YouTube and look for a video on how to do it.

What are your thoughts? If someone you knew passed away, would you stay home (if it was close to home and local) and watch live streaming or go to the funeral home to offer your support?


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6 thoughts on “Is Live Streaming a Funeral Appropriate?”

  1. I think that this would be a good option for those who otherwise could NOT attend.
    This however could be insulting if just done for CONVENIENCE.
    Just my 2cents……………..Alan

    1. Definitely would not be nice if people who could be there opted not to be. This should be reserved and a link only offered to specific friends or relatives based on their response to the original funeral announcement.

    2. Tacky if done because you can’t be bothered going to a funeral – but good if you honestly CAN’T make it (for example, your father dies, and you are in hospital with a broken leg) while the funeral happens.

      On another note, IF you are in an accident, coma for 5 years, a recording of the (family member’s) funeral would certainly be appreciated.

  2. I agree with you Alan. Too much these days is about convenience. Microwaves make cooking faster. Cell phones make it more convenient to always be connected. life is so fast paced and convenient. Some things deserve the respect that go with tradition and formalities. Live streaming does have it’s place though and I was lucky to have this option to attend the recent funeral I went to. I have actually attended 3 now not 2 as my article said. I attended one that was in FL for the daughter of a friend.

    Thanks again for your input,


  3. Sherrie, as far as streaming live, I am sure we will be going that way but have not experienced it. I have experienced a taping posted online from California for a friend that had the majority of his relatives in the middle east. If the streaming or recording are as tasteful as that one was I could not personally see any objections.

    Moving, respectful, appropriate all come to mind and if that is the case than online or in person no problem. As Stu mentioned, in his reply tacky if you use it to avoid going. I would hate to see it turn into that.
    Nice article.

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