Crematorium offers funeral-by-webcam for mourners abroad

Karen Thomson used the online service to enable relatives in Australia to watch the funeral service of her late partner, Robert Lang

A SCOTS crematorium is offering mourners a DVD of their loved one’s funeral after installing a webcam.

Seafield Crematorium in Edinburgh is also streaming the proceedings via the internet to allow friends and family who cannot travel to the capital to pay their last respects.

The service was installed last year and around 50 ceremonies have been broadcast via the net.

The service is offered for free as part of the funeral package by the privately owned chapel though the family must give written permission for the event to be broadcast.

Jane Darby, 45, the superintendent of Seafield Crematorium, said: “We were finding more and more different members were abroad and unable to make funeral services, so we thought it would be a really good idea.”

The tiny camera is mounted in the back wall of the building and can be activated by a member of staff on request.

The service’s privacy is protected by a password meaning that only those authorised by the organisers can watch the ceremony. The service is also available online for seven days if friends or family wish to re-watch the event.

The recordings are sent to a Northamptonshire-based company, Wesley Music, who put them on DVDs and CDs.


Darby added: “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.

“We are the only crematorium in Edinburgh doing this at the moment. It is not just open to anybody, so it means it’s quite a private thing. At the end of the service, we compile what we have recorded that day and send it directly to Wesley Music.”

Karen Thompson, 51, from Leith, who decided to broadcast her partner Robert Lang’s funeral so his brother in Australia and friends in America could pay their respects, believes: “The service is so beneficial. Gordon (Robert’s brother) 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 things up 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.”

Jim Nickerson, general manager of Edinburgh Crematorium Ltd who operate Seafield, will decide next year whether to extend this service to their other chapel at Warriston, Edinburgh’s remaining crematorium, the council operated Mortonhall, does not currently offer this service.

The broadcasting of funerals marks another step towards bringing the services into the technological age.

Newspapers already display their Obituaries sections online and often allow readers to light virtual candles for the deceased and leave memorial messages for the family.

Donations to charities can also be made online, replacing the traditional collection box or allowing those who could not attend to also contribute.