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When Technology Is Not Enough

Published: February 18, 2021
by James Hebert

   The year long Corona Virus Pandemic as forced funeral homes to adapt and provide services we never had to in the past. Our focus was always on brining people together at their most trying time.  We helped surround them with their most cherished family and friends.  There was not always a lot of thought given to how we can help people who can attend funeral services. During the last year, restrictions placed on funeral homes and churches has limited the support system a family normally has.  IT has forced funeral homes to find ways to help people who cannot attend services.  Fortunately, there are a multitude of options to help us stream funeral services.

   Recently I was tasked with trying to find the right digital platform to best serve our families. As I sifted through everything from streaming applications to purchasing cameras, IPads and laptops, I had a realization.  About 10 to 12 years ago I leased a camera and a laptop form a company so that I could live stream funeral services.  This technology was way ahead of its time. I began to remember the reactions that families had back then and thought of the reactions families are having right now to live streaming.  Most agreed it was wonderful to allow family and friends who can not attend funeral services, there was no replacement to having them here. Knowing someone was watching on the computer did little to comfort the family that was in the funeral home.  They wanted and needed the support of their family.  What at one time would have been hundreds of people gathered in churches and funeral homes had now become 20 to 30 people spread six feet apart.

  Throughout the last year we have talked about missing the holidays, cancelling weddings and postponing family functions, but there has not been much talk of the thousands of families denied their support system.  Families just sort of grin and bear it and persevere.  They are not given another choice.  I have heard countless times "I wish my aunt, uncle, or brother could be here with us to help us through this" or "this isn't what mom would have wanted." I believe it was Elizabeth Kübler-Ross that said, "Grief shared is grief diminished."  This is why we gather for funerals. It is not because tradition dictates we do, but because we need emotional support to overcome our loss and to help dull the pain of our grief.  We get to hear stories, relive a life well lived and to see all the people who are about us the most.

   I hope that in 2021 we cant get back to the OLD normal and forget the NEW normal.  I hope we can go on with our weddings, our family gatherings, celebrating the holidays together and supporting one another in our time of need. If 2020 has taught us anything. it is that we should always expect the unexpected and there is nothing more comforting than a warm hug.

James Hebert is a Licensed Funeral Director in the State of Massachusetts and Operations Manager for Masciarelli Family Funeral Homes of Fitchburg, Lunenburg and Westminster.

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