A council in Staffordshire is planning to live stream funerals over the internet via webcam, according to the BBC. Is this a fitting way to say goodbye, or the ultimate in poor taste?
Some might say it’s a case of technology gone mad.
I have to confess that that was my gut reaction when I read Stafford Borough Council plans to install webcams in a local crematorium, along with a new music system. It seems like a step too far.
A chance to say goodbye
Then I read past the headline and saw that the council’s intention is to allow those who are either too sick, or too far away to get their chance say goodbye.
A few years ago, a close relative of mine died. I’d recently had an operation and couldn’t make the five plus hours to attend the funeral service. While I spent most of the day thinking about her, I felt I’d missed out on saying a proper goodbye.
There was no chance for me to take comfort in shared grief or to reminisce about the deceased – in this case a very special lady who’d won an MBE for her charity work.
Concerns around privacy
Blanket coverage of services would be in bad taste. But, the council seems to have thought of that too. Anyone attending a service by webcam will need a pin code to log in. Services will then be encrypted and streamed over a secure server.
Arguably, this is a more efficient way of stopping unwanted guests turning up at the church.
In addition to live streaming, the council is installing an 80,000-track music database, which it says will allow families to choose songs to play without having to track them down at such a poignant time. It’s an impressive selection, despite there only being a handful of songs that remain popular at funerals (Angels by Robbie Williams being a stand out).
Streamed funerals are no substitute
A spokesperson for the council has said that this technology will allow families to have a ‘more meaningful funeral’. That I’m not so sure about.
It’s fair enough to use streaming to let the few who genuinely can’t get there a chance to pay their respects. But I’d hate to see this type of service being used as a substitute for the real thing, or as a cost-cutting exercise (less people at the funeral means less people to cater for at the wake).
Would you watch a loved one’s funeral streamed over the internet?