Attending funerals in the tech era made easy

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Attending funerals in the tech era made easy
LOS ANGELES (BDCI) — Burying or cremating a loved one can be an emotional process, but not being able to attend funeral services can worsen the experience.
Now however, funerals are being streamed online for family and friends who lose a loved one everywhere in the world.
The $12 billion funeral industry is finding online-video streaming as a competitive advantage due to the tech-savvy baby boomers and expansion of internet access around the globe.
This spring, Getty Images photographer Chris Hondrol was killed while covering the Libyan uprising. More than a thousand people crowded into the Brooklyn, New York church to pay respects, but a thousand or so other people attended his funeral service “virtually”, through a web cast streamed on their computers.
Forest Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuaries, a resting place to celebrities such as Lucille Ball and Michael Jackson, has offered funeral web casting services at its Hollywood Hills and Glendale cemeteries since 2008.
When launched it became highly popular, and its increased demand led to webcast expansion to other Forest Lawn locations in the Los Angeles area.
“When a loved one passes away, people either need to jump on a plane or have to miss the funeral entirely,” said Forest Lawn senior vice president of operations Scott Drolet.
Funeral homes price streaming services anywhere between $100 and $400 per event. Forest Lawn prices its webcast services at $275. Some funeral homes offer this service for free to allow people to become more comfortable with the idea.
Forest Lawn has streamed more than 400 funeral services since, and are currently averaging at least one per day.
One of the other advantages to funeral webcasting is that it can be preserved on a DVD.
“The eulogy is really the summation of a life and what this person meant to those around him,” said Dan Grumley, owner of Event by Wire, a software company that creates webcast software for funeral parlors. “It’s an archive for future generations that are unborn. It becomes a very rich piece of family history.”
According to former president of the National Funeral Directors Association, John Reed an estimated of 20% of funeral homes are web casted.
Reed also said he usually is in charge of video handling at his funeral parlors and feels good about it because the family can preserve the memory.
“It’s almost like sitting in the chapel,” he said. “I even zoom in on the deceased a few times. The sound and picture are great, “Reed said.

Writer: Shayla Selva
Source: Los Angeles Times
31 July 2011
1:24p.m. P.D.T.

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