Celebrants across Tayside and Fife are harnessing technology to allow bereaved families to grieve together during lockdown.
Funerals can now be conducted via online platforms such as Zoom, allowing relatives and friends to play a role in the service and hold a virtual wake afterwards.
Broughty Ferry celebrant Michael Hannah said the services could offer comfort to families who are unable to be together in real life due to coronavirus restrictions.
At present only 10 people can attend a funeral at a crematorium or graveside in Dundee, while in Fife numbers are restricted to just six.
“It’s a distressing situation for families who are having to make choices about who can and can’t attend,” said Michael.
“There was a moment when it looked as though funerals might have to be completely closed with nobody present at all. That’s very difficult for families to deal with.
“All they can do is say they’ll have a memorial service down the line but when’s that going to be? They can’t plan for it.”
Michael said that while many crematoria already live stream funerals online, the experience is an entirely passive one.
He said video sharing would allow mourners to participate in the service while offering a sense of togetherness.
“Initially I was a bit sceptical about whether we could adapt it for a funeral because it’s a very personal and emotional thing,” he said.
“I got together with a few others and conducted a mock funeral to see how it would work.
“I conducted it and asked somebody else to read a poem and another person to read a tribute and I also played some music and had photographs of the deceased.
“We all lit a candle together during the ceremony.
“We were surprised at how successful and moving it was. We could create a sense of reverence and dignity.”
Michael said the disadvantages would be that not everybody has a laptop or a tablet and that some people may feel uncomfortable about attending a ceremony online.
“It’s very new for people and they may be reluctant to try it,” he said.
“I wouldn’t like to think it would replace that physical getting together that’s so important but families are widely dispersed these days, especially at the moment when coming together is impossible.
“It’s something I’m now offering and there are other celebrants in the area also looking to do it.”
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