Web funeral service reaches out to mourners around the world

Karen Thomson used the service so relatives in Australia to watch her partner's funeral at Seafield
Karen Thomson used the service so relatives in Australia to watch her partner's funeral at Seafield
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WHEN it comes to watching something on the internet, a music video, live football match or a sneak preview of the next episode of a favourite programme are usually top of the list.

But families across the Capital are now being offered something entirely different – live coverage of a loved one’s funeral service.

Seafield Crematorium is the first in Edinburgh to offer the unusual service, which allows bereaved family members and friends who are unable to attend a funeral to view it live online, or up to a week after it has taken place.

The webcast service was introduced at the crematorium last summer, with around 50 funerals at the chapel being streamed live online since then.

A small camera is mounted on the wall at the back of the chapel, which is activated by a member of staff at the crematorium. The recording is sent directly to Wesley Music in Northamptonshire, which also provides a unique library of recordings specifically for use in crematoria. It can then be viewed live on the company’s website.

Crematorium superintendent, Jane Darby, 45, said: “We are the only crematorium in Edinburgh doing this at the moment. We stream the services live and the family is given a log in and password to a website so only family members or those authorised by the person arranging the funeral can view it. It is not just open to anybody, so it means it’s quite a private thing.

“We were finding more and more different family members were abroad and unable to make funeral services, so we thought it would be a really good idea.

”It’s a huge benefit if people can’t make a service. They’re very upset anyway and at least this way it helps a little bit as they can actually see the funeral service as it’s taking place.

“It is provided for free as part of funeral services at Seafield and families also receive a free DVD recording.”

Karen Thomson, 51, who lives in Leith, lost her partner Robert Lang to a brain tumour on December 6 and decided to make use of the new service to allow Robert’s brother Gordon, who lives in Australia and couldn’t make the funeral, to watch it online. It was also viewed by friends in America and Somerset, who couldn’t be there on the day.

Ms Thomson, a dental nurse, said: “The service is so beneficial. Gordon was amazed that he could actually view it online. Being able to watch it up to seven days after makes a massive difference too because you can watch it again if you haven’t picked up things the first time.

“I think it’s an amazing service to be offered, especially when you have got family abroad who can’t make the funeral.”

Written authority from the family of the deceased is required by the crematorium before the funeral will be recorded.

“At the end of the service, we compile what we have recorded that day and send it directly to Wesley Music, and they generate any CDs or DVDs of the service,” Mrs Darby added.

Jim Nickerson, general manager of Edinburgh Crematorium Ltd, which owns Seafield and Warriston Crematorium, said a decision would be made next year on whether to introduce the live service at Warriston.

The only other crematorium in Edinburgh – Mortonhall – is council-owned and does not offer the service.