Funerals in a time of social isolation

While this is certainly a trying time for those seeking physical connection from fellow grieving relatives, the ability to stream funeral and church services to the masses seems to be a feature that some churches might hold onto for some time even when the pandemic recedes.

Video Transcript


THOMAS J. PIRRO: With the new guidelines since COVID-19, we've been able to continue to have private viewing for immediate family.

ANDREW BUCHANAN: Yeah, this is very difficult, because, as you know, it doesn't matter whether you're an atheist or a Christian or a Buddhist or a Muslim. Everyone needs closure when they lose someone. And most people and cultures have a ritual for doing that. And when you take that away from them, it's super, super hard.

THOMAS J. PIRRO: Prior to this pandemic, people in-- they were able to embrace the fact of grieving with others.

ANDREW BUCHANAN: The governor of Virginia has banned gatherings of more than 10 people. And that includes churches inside or outside.

THOMAS J. PIRRO: The government and state-wide restrictions has impacted the funeral industry greatly. It is very much so affecting how people travel the phases or the steps of grief.

ANDREW BUCHANAN: A lot of families are saying, let's wait until the crisis is over. And then we'll have a burial when everyone can be there.

THOMAS J. PIRRO: I truly believe there'll be some people that will may never get the ultimate or necessary closure that they need.


ANDREW BUCHANAN: I realized that we needed to up our game quickly. So we called in a local tech guy that morning. We laid a bunch of Cat6 cable. We bought a new 4K camera. And we upgraded within a day to make it all possible.

This is Galilee Episcopal Church. Normally, we wouldn't have these lights set up and these microphones. There are wires everywhere, a mixing board. The area on the altar has been moved around so that we can do the livestreaming and the recording that we need to do for our Sunday worship services.

THOMAS J. PIRRO: We're able to share a link with immediate family. And those family members can share with whomever they like. We've taken it as far as putting the link in an obituary of a person and announcing the time and that public is not invited physically to that location but can remotely use the link to attend the service.

ANDREW BUCHANAN: We recently had a funeral where I expected 500 to 600 people to show up. And we live streamed it. And we've had over 1,000 views so far of that funeral.

THOMAS J. PIRRO: They need that support. I mean, there's no cure for grief. You have to grieve. And in order to grieve the loss of your loved one, you need support. You need that family, that friendship to help get you through. You can't do it alone.

ANDREW BUCHANAN: In terms of livestreaming funerals when the crisis is over, I think there's no going back for churches that have started live streaming their services. I'm doing livestream Bible studies every day. And I'm getting, you know, 20 to 60 people who show up at that. I don't think I could have done that before.