Funerals Available to Stream Now
In 2016, Mueller Memorial became the first funeral home in the state to serve alcohol at funerals. Now, in light of the pandemic, the funeral home with locations in St. Paul and White Bear Lake has created a Virtual Memorial Toolkit with resources to help families host their own in-home or virtual funeral services. Much like adding that bar, the purpose behind the toolkit is to provide comfort during difficult times.
“Even now, as gathering restrictions are lessening, many people are still not comfortable coming to a public event or traveling for one—especially those who are in an age group that makes them more vulnerable,” says Mueller Memorial owner Scott Mueller. “By streaming services online, people can come together from wherever they are.”
Recently, a sailor on the South China Sea was able to stream his grandfather’s funeral service in Minnesota, Mueller says. He believes demand for virtual services will continue long after Covid-19.
Mueller Memorial was founded in 1946 by Mueller’s father. And it’s been supporting grieving Minnesotans ever since.
“Seven decades later, our calling remains the same,” Mueller said. “But our approach is a little different now.”
Q | How has your work changed/been disrupted by coronavirus?
A | “Covid-19 has taken away the opportunity for families and friends to physically come together after the death of a family member or friend. That show of support is a crucial starting point to a healthy grief experience, so we had to ask ourselves, ‘How can we help these families get the show of support they need?’ We quickly adapted to streaming very small memorial services to family and friends online. Even now as restrictions are lessening, many people are still not comfortable coming to a public event or traveling for one, especially those who are in an age group that makes them more vulnerable, so we will continue with some of the changes we’ve put in place during the pandemic moving forward.”
Q | Have you lost any revenue due to the pandemic?
“Most businesses have had a change in their revenue stream, and we are no different. However, integrating more technology has made us more efficient while still keeping our service level high.”
Q | How have you pivoted your business to function in today’s climate?
A| “Nothing will ever replace in-person gatherings, or the positive biochemical boost that comes from them, but many families will continue to gather through video conferencing. That includes people at higher risk of disease and those who have to travel from a distance, which is still not currently recommended. We’re offering a Virtual Memorial Toolkit with many of the resources our funeral directors use so that families can assemble and host their own online service. It includes service outlines and ideas to structure the service from religious or secular standpoints, music, prayers, poems, and other readings you may want to include in the service. We also teach you how to put on the service, including how to livestream on Facebook, YouTube, or Zoom.”
Q | Any bright spots during this crisis?
A | “Virtual memorials can’t replace in-person services, but we expect them to continue in tandem after the pandemic ends. By streaming services online, people can come together from wherever they are. Just recently we streamed a service attended by a grandson serving on a ship in the South China Sea. If not for the pandemic, the expectation would be that he’d just have to miss his grandpa’s service. The same kind of plans and tools that we use to broadcast memorial services are available in the Virtual Memorial Toolkit to help anyone plan and facilitate their own virtual memorials safely from home.”
Q | Anything else you’d like to add?
A | “The pandemic has been very difficult on everyone and created a kind of collective grief. We’ve all lost a sense of normalcy. When you combine physical and social isolation, the collective loss of normalcy, and add the grief of loss, those griefs compound and can make loss at this time especially lonely. Our top priority is providing emotional support during an extremely difficult period in people’s lives and helping them frame their grief experience in a way that allows them to see the hope and healing in their future.”