The author and her grandma, November 2015. "We'll Skype you into the funeral," my mom tried again as I lay crumpled on the other end of the line, ugly-crying into my hands. She was serious. If Grandma didn't make it, Skyping the service meant I wouldn't grieve in some anonymous hotel room alone. I managed a snort. In fact, my mom's instinct about a video broadcast was spot on. In the past five or so years, numerous funeral homes and religious institutions have begun to routinely stream memorials to help remote mourners say their final goodbyes. Earlier this year, for example, an Atlanta-area megachurch streamed the funeral of its pastor so that members of his congregation could participate from afar.
Some funeral organizers even offer social media etiquette tips for family and friends who attend in person, And the genre of funeral selfies has cropped up, especially among the millennial crowd, Digital mourning, it seems, is going mainstream, "You tend to associate video calls with a joyful moment, but iphone screen protector how to get rid of bubbles you tend to have some emotional times on Skype," said James Blamey, Skype's director of communications, The company doesn't track the content of users' calls, but Blamey says video offers a stronger emotional connection than voice alone, and visual cues inform and comfort callers without the need to speak..
I couldn't shake the unbearable fear of missing my chance to see my grandma, possibly for the last time. So I did jump on a plane, one bound from California to Wisconsin, before heading to Asia. And I tucked my mother's Skype promise into the back of my mind. If I did have to remotely attend the funeral, I'd still be involved in spirit if not in flesh. This made sense to me. My family already used Skype to stay in touch. For years, we had Skyped in a far-flung sibling and even Grandma herself to virtually join us for celebrations. If it came down to it, Skype would be one more way to connect to this most important family event.
In the end, a video broadcast was one of the few comforts I could extend when, six months later, I had to call that same far-flung sibling -- who wouldn't be able to join us in person -- with the inevitable news that Grandma was gone, "We'll Skype you into the funeral," I promised, our hearts breaking together, Click here for "Logging Out," a look at death in the digital age, As our family dealt with logistics, I fretted over what iphone screen protector how to get rid of bubbles Skyping my grandma's funeral would mean, Could I find a Wi-Fi network reliable enough to sustain multiple callers for the hourlong service? Would some family members be offended if I also streamed the graveside burial? Would I be able to hold a phone and mop my face with tissues at the same time?..
These questions speak to the quiet role technology plays in mourning. On the one hand, Skype, chat threads and social networks help mourners connect to a community of friends and loved ones when they can't be physically present. On the other, smartphones and tablets -- often associated with selfies and status updates -- could be considered intrusive or plain poor taste when capturing mourners at the height of their grief. "I don't see at funerals the same lurky electronic devices [as weddings]," said Rabbi Marc Berkson of Congregation Emanu-El B'ne Jeshurun of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But when families ask if they can FaceTime a graveside service, he always gives his blessing.