How to Hold a Virtual Memorial Service

Published April 9, 2020
woman in deep thought while using laptop

You may need to know how to hold a virtual memorial service, but aren't sure where to start. There are a few tips that can help you decide the best type of virtual memorial service for your loved one.

Holding a Virtual Memorial Service From Afar

If you're under quarantine or a stay-at-home order due to COVID-19, a virtual memorial is one way you can connect with family and friends to honor the passing of your loved one. If you aren't under a pandemic but have family and friends who live at a distance and couldn't attend the funeral, then a virtual memorial is a wonderful idea to allow them to celebrate the life of the deceased.

Ways to Live Stream Your Virtual Memorial Service

There are many live streaming services to choose from to hold your virtual memorial service. Some are paid services, while others like Zoom offer both free and paid plans.

Host a Zoom Virtual Memorial Services

Zoom is one of the most popular platforms for virtual meetings that lends itself to a virtual memorial service. You set your meeting and send attendees a virtual RSVP invitation that includes a link to the meeting.

  • You can record your service and send to those unable to attend.
  • You can plug in a presentation to go along with your service, such as photos of your loved one, so everyone in attendance can see.
  • Zoom is free for 100 people up to 40 minutes. If you need more time or to accommodate more people, you'll want to review the monthly plans.

Virtual Background Feature

Zoom offers a virtual background feature that allows you to use different backgrounds and videos. This can enhance your memorial service significantly. A green screen is advised for best quality.

Fellowship After Service

If you wish to have fellowship after the service, everyone can mingle via video/audio. You can have a free-flowing chat or allow everyone to take a turn to share a story of the deceased for an amazing virtual celebration of life!

Skype Virtual Memorial Service

Skype is another venue you can use to host a virtual memorial service. You can set up a memorial photo to be behind you or to the side while you hold the service. You may want to have a single candle or a candelabra burning during your service. Soft music playing in the background may be queued for the beginning and closing of your service. Skype is a free service when calling Skype to Skype. However, if you're calling a cellphone or a landline, then you'll need to have a subscription ($2.99/month US) or Skype Credit ($10/434 minutes).

Facebook Live Streaming

Facebook Live is a free live streaming option you may want to use. Unlike Zoom, you will be the only one broadcasting to attendees via your camera. You won't be able to see or hear the attendees, so your interaction will be limited to their typed comments.

  • You can respond live to any comments if you wish.
  • You may want to live stream while playing the deceased's favorite song in the background.
  • Tailor the mood to the deceased's personality to provide a heartfelt memorial service.

Virtual Memorial Service for a Gamer

A great way to honor an avid gamer is to schedule a memorial service in the form of their favorite online game. Arrange for all players to sign in at a designated date and time to hold your memorial service in the game they played. You can end the service by asking everyone to play a game together in honor of the deceased!

Boy with headphones playing on his computer

Create a Memorial Hashtag

If you're planning a public memorial service and the deceased was an avid Twitter or Instagram fan, create a hashtag for the service. This hashtag can be used along with the memorial service as well as a remembrance, so followers can honor the deceased and plan to attend the virtual service.

Virtual Celebration of Life

Another type of virtual memorial is a perpetual webpage. Virtual Memorial began in 1996 and offers a wide range of features. You can upload audio clips, songs, texts, photos, slide shows, custom pages, a guest book, and more. The one-time fee is $55 to have your loved one memorialized. This may be a good addition to a streaming service or in lieu of a service.

How to Let People Know About Your Memorial

There are several online venues that you can use to let family and friends know about your memorial service. You can create a group email, text message, private message, or send a video announcement about your virtual memorial service.

Provide Instructions on How to Connect to Service

You need provide the link to the service with your invite, along with a concise set of instructions on how to connect. You may want to provide attendees with a way to do a test run to ensure they can connect without issues. Be sure you include a way for them to contact someone should they have issues connecting in the test run as well as the actual virtual memorial service.

Brief Program

Depending on the venue, guests will either be able to participate in the service or only observe. You can let your guests know if and when they can either contribute with a personal story or comment during/after the service. You can provide a brief program summary or outline so they know what to expect.

Honor Your Loved One With a Virtual Service

There are several ways you can host a virtual memorial service. Decide on the type of features you need and choose one that best honors the life of your loved one.

How to Hold a Virtual Memorial Service