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Filming at the funeral can help memorialize the deceased.

As funeral homes try to adapt to shifts in the ways people are addressing their own deaths and those of their loved ones, more businesses are expanding their use of technology. In New Zealand and other countries around the globe, funeral videos and other media are becoming increasingly popular. While the practice of filming a service may have seemed downright morbid in generations past, today more and more people are embracing videos as a natural component of the celebration of life for their loved ones, friends and family.

Reaching Across the Distance

One very practical reason for the popularity of video and film is that families today, and communities in general, live all over the world. Modern sensibilities look to shared media to keep people in touch, no matter how far away they live from one another. Social media sites such as Facebook open up space for people to exchange condolences and memories, but video can be very meaningful and specific to a group. Katrina Shanks, chief executive of Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (FDANZ), says funeral videos honor the way in which New Zealanders grieve: together. Livestreaming, in particular, enables friends and family to grieve in one another's company despite the physical distance.

Funeral Video Service

In some New Zealand funeral homes, videos have become almost standard practice. Many businesses now offer to ship DVDs overseas as part of their services. Sharing videos of a service may do more than simply allow people who live far away to see the event. It may be a significant way to experience the passing of the loved one or a tool to help people grieve. Often, the event itself can be something of a blur for the people involved. The videos act as a kind of documentary that people can revisit when they have some distance from the moment. It gives people a chance to reflect and stay with the process a bit longer in order to process the passing of their loved ones. In addition, a video serves as a kind of family archive that catalogs an event as a momentous gathering, such as a solemn (and sometimes not so solemn) family reunion.

Professional and Amateur Videography

Businesses in New Zealand may handle video in-house, or they may contract out to media companies that specialize in the process. A typical video runs about 60 to 90 minutes in length. Prices range from $360 to around $700, depending on whether or not the family wants to livestream the service. Some families may request that a relative or friend video the service. In that case, the professionals offer a few tips to manage the task with efficiency and sensitivity:

  • Be discreet. Give people plenty of space.
  • Wait to be asked. Do not take it upon yourself to film without permission from the family.
  • Be prepared to turn off the camera upon request.
  • Know in advance what and whom the family wants filmed, and, just as importantly, what and whom they do not.
  • Minimize your equipment. Avoid using a camera flash or obtrusive lighting, if possible.
  • Take breaks. Do not push yourself too hard in what is sure to be a highly charged emotional setting, especially if you are among the grievers.

Healing Images

It may seem counterintuitive for some people to keep a physical record of a funeral service. Many New Zealanders, and other people around the world, have discovered that revisiting the images of a service can actually help the healing process. In the U.S., we may be more inclined as a society to speed away from pain rather than sit with it. It may be, however, that spending more time in the act of goodbye allows us to eventually let go of the debilitating pain and retain space for the loving memories that strengthen us.

Category: Get Ordained Funeral


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