End-of-life celebrations and memorials are ways we celebrate the remarkable lives of our loved ones who have passed on. While planning memorials can always be challenging, the coronavirus pandemic has made these difficult times even more challenging. We’re not always able to gather family and friends in one location safely to celebrate our loved one’s passing. 

To keep families and friends safe, allow them to grieve, and help them practice proper death care rituals and rites for loved ones who passed, virtual funerals became an option offered by funeral homes. 

The beauty of the virtual service is that it’s an incredible resource. Virtual memorial services and funerals expand the accessibility and safety of the event, allowing people who might not otherwise be able to travel and attend the ability to celebrate their loved one’s remarkable lives. 

Today, we’ll explore the elements of a funeral, the options you have for virtual ceremonies, and how to plan one. We’ll also talk about life after the service and how commemorating your loved one’s life can help you along your healing journey. 

The Elements of a Funeral  

Funeral planning isn’t something we look forward to, but planning ahead for end-of-life events helps us guide our death care and removes the necessity of planning from surviving family members. 

Funerals have several shared elements


Visitation is a service that takes place a day or a few hours before the funeral. Visitations allow guests to say their final farewells to their remarkable loved one. Whether a loved one is buried or cremated, visitation is always an option. 


A funeral service will normally include two to three songs. These can be favorite songs of the loved one who has passed or comforting hymns. There are no rules for which songs can be played, and they’re a wonderful opportunity to remember your loved one’s unique legacy.


Readings offer peace, comfort, and reassurance to surviving friends and family members. These can be readings from religious texts, favorite poems, or short stories. Typically, there will be about three readings in a funeral service. 


A eulogy is given either by a close family member, a friend, or the officiant overseeing the funeral. The eulogy should celebrate your loved one’s life and include comforting themes for the surviving family and friends traveling along their healing journey. 


The decorations used at a funeral exist to provide comfort to surviving loved ones. Beautiful flower arrangements and symbolic fixtures such as angels, crosses, or candles may help bring peace and set a tone. 


Photographs, videos, mementos, and special items can be placed on a table or streamed as a slideshow on a screen for visitors to enjoy. These help to celebrate the life of the loved one who has passed and encourage memories and conversations. 

Committal Service

Whether the loved one will be buried or have their ashes placed in a mausoleum, a service at the final resting location is often observed for a limited number of guests, sometimes just immediate family and close friends. 


Although it is not required, a reception after the service is a thoughtful way to help guests share personal stories and talk with others. Receptions are less formal and offer a more casual atmosphere where guests can be more relaxed in their celebration of their loved one’s life. 

No funeral is required to have all of these elements. However, when planning a virtual service or an in-person service, these are all considerations to be made. 

Types of Virtual Funeral Services

Technology has made it possible for us to participate in a memorial service even if we’re not in physically present. There are several options for virtual funerals. 

  • Live Streaming. A live stream service usually includes many elements of a traditional funeral. Immediate family members may attend in person, while other guests attend the event virtually. 

Live streams can be hosted through sites dedicated to the virtual funeral industry like GatheringUs or on social media websites like Facebook or Zoom. 

  • Hybrid. A hybrid service offers both live streaming and in-person options for attendees who wish to attend the funeral. This is like a live streaming event, but more in-person guests are able to attend. 
  • Celebration of Life. Many people were not able to give their loved ones the kind of death care they would have liked to during the pandemic. As such, a post-COVID pandemic memorial service is a heartfelt way to invite guests to honor their loved one. 

Celebrations of life are common weeks or even months after a person has passed. These services allow guests and family members to share life events about the loved one and honor their passing. 

  • Online memorials. An online memorial is an evergreen memorial page that exists until a moderator decides to close it. These types of memorials can host pictures, memories, videos, and information about the person who has passed to celebrate their impact. 

Memorial pages often have guestbooks where visitors can sign in, offer condolences, and share their own memories of the loved one who has passed. 

No matter your needs, there’s a virtual option that can help you create the most memorable, inclusive, and safe space to remember your incredible loved one. Planning a virtual service isn’t complicated, but you will need to remember a few important factors.

How To Plan a Virtual Funeral Service

The virtual funeral care industry now boasts fully dedicated virtual funeral companies. These companies are usually web-based and offer everything you need, including help planning the entire service from start to finish. 

If you opt to plan the service yourself, you can follow these simple steps. 

1. Select the Type of Service 

The first step is deciding which type of virtual event best honors your loved one. Discussing the options with other family members and considering who will be able to attend in person can help you decide which type of virtual celebration is best. 

2. Select a Venue

Unless you are hosting an online memorial page, you’ll likely need an in-person venue. From this venue, you’ll stream portions of the service for virtual guests. 

While it may seem difficult to find a funeral home to accommodate this type of virtual event, many funeral directors began offering virtual services when the pandemic started to help guests practice social distancing. These types of events are more inclusive and offer out-of-town mourners the opportunity to be present, share stories, and offer their condolences. 

3. Decide Upon a Virtual Host 

If the funeral home you work with does not offer virtual memorial service options, you’ll need to also select a virtual host. This can be as simple as hosting the event yourself on a live streaming platform or working with a virtual event planner. 

A virtual event planner can help take care of event planning, including preparation and sending electronic invitations and programs. They also offer the benefit of technical support during the event, an important option especially if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy. 

4. Gather the Required Equipment

You may need video equipment for your virtual event. Ensuring you have all the correct equipment can be a collaborative effort if the funeral home you work with has its own videographer or equipment on hand. 

To have a successful virtual event, you will need smartphones, laptops, webcams, and tripods that are efficient and up-to-date. You’ll also need a reliable internet connection that is capable of handling real-time video and sound. 

5.  Plan the Service

You’ll need an officiant, people to share readings and sing music, and even pallbearers and greeters if those elements will be included in the service. 

It’s possible to plan a virtual funeral on your own, but much easier if you enlist the expertise of those who work in the death care industry. 

Helpful Tips

Virtual funerals offer a unique opportunity to mourn a loss, and there are some helpful hints that can help your loved one’s virtual service run seamlessly. 

  • Plan for technical difficulties. Streaming services aren’t perfect, so it’s important to have a backup plan. With any virtual event, you’ll be managing different streaming platforms, internet connections, and users who may not be familiar with streaming technology.  Remaining patient and having plans in place for managing any issues is key to having a successful memorial. 
  • Remember to calculate time differences. Virtual events often have attendees from all across the globe. While you can’t accommodate every person, if you have a large group of virtual attendees in an area that is five hours behind the in-person event, it’s worth considering a different time for the virtual event that is more conducive to the virtual attendees’ schedules. 
  • Try to plan your event like in-person funerals as much as possible. Part of adjusting to a new normal is attempting to keep the same traditions and rituals we loved while ensuring we are safe and inclusive. 

A virtual event can be as meaningful as an in-person event. Sometimes, these types of events can be an overall better fit for the surviving family and loved ones. As long as your loved one is being honored and celebrated, the event is successful. 

Planning an event like this is a large undertaking. After the service is over, you may find yourself in a new space along your healing journey. At Eterneva, we believe part of your healing journey is learning to live in harmony with these feelings, which starts by commemorating the life of your loved one in unique ways. 

Life After the Memorial

After the service, the phone calls, and the sympathy cards, surviving family members and friends may often find themselves with more time to process their grief following the death of a loved one. The grief we feel when our loved ones pass is a unique journey, but the memories and the desire we have to continue their legacy are eternal. 

Many surviving loved ones find comfort in finding unique ways to commemorate their loved one’s life after they have passed.

Commemorating a Life

There are many opportunities for commemorating your loved one, including the option of the online memorial. These evergreen pages last as long as the moderator or host decides to keep them, which can be months to years. 

Another way to preserve your loved one’s memory is with cremation jewelry. Cremation jewelry uses a small portion of your loved one’s cremated ashes in the creation of a beautiful piece of wearable art. Cremation diamonds are a memory you can physically keep with you wherever you go. 

What Is a Cremation Diamond?

A cremation diamond is a genuine diamond that has been created from the carbon extracted from your loved one’s ashes. These certified stones are elegant, brilliant, and serve as a shining reminder of your loved one’s life. 

How It Works

All human ashes contain carbon. We carefully extract the carbon from a small portion of your loved one’s ashes. Next, with the help of a special machine that mimics the natural conditions required for diamond formation, we transform the ashes into a beautiful diamond with heat and pressure. 

Because the diamond creation process takes several months, we give you continual updates. You will always know exactly what’s happening, where your loved one’s diamond is, and where we are in the transformation process. 

At the end of this process, loved one’s stunning diamond will be delivered to you to cherish forever. 

Going Virtual and Other Forms of Deathcare

Deathcare is changing, and we love the ability to include even more surviving friends and family members in the memorial services and celebrations of life we have for our loved ones. We also love the ability to encapsulate so many memories, experiences, and emotions in an everlasting emblem of comfort.

When your loved one passes, plan the type of ceremony that best fits your needs. When the service is finished, let Eterneva give you a lasting reminder of the beautiful life they lived. 


How to Plan a Virtual Funeral Service | Neptune Society

Elements of a Funeral or Memorial Service | Funeralwise  

How to Protect Yourself & Others | CDC