Inclusive grieving in the age of COVID: Creating and sharing memorial videos

The novel coronavirus has taken loved ones away from us, and health directives and gathering limits have forced us to find new ways to grieve. Each of us experiences loss in our own way, but joining together to honor a friend or family member is an essential part of the healing process.  How can we create a community of support and remembrance when COVID-19 precautions prevent us from holding in-person memorials?

Live-streamed memorials let us observe services as they happen, but limit individuals from contributing to the celebration in a [personal, meaningful way. Online guest books and social media pages allow us to leave heartfelt messages family members will cherish, but many of us want to do more to honor those who have touched our lives. 

That’s why video memorials have become a useful, dynamic bridge across the chasm created by COVID-safe gathering limitations. They’re fairly easy for the average person to create, edit, and share online, and they bring us closer together than otherwise possible in this time of travel restrictions and social distancing. 

Inspiration for video memorials

Don’t feel that you have to produce a cinematic masterpiece. There are no rules to organizing and crafting a video memorial, and any of these ideas, alone or in combination, may help you along the creative path. 

  • Slideshow of collected still images
  • Family videos
  • “Interview-style” contributions from friends and family
  • Video footage of the memorial service

There’s no need to decide on a concrete plan for the video memorial right away.  Sometimes, that inspiration doesn’t come until you’ve received and viewed recordings and images from contributing friends and loved ones, 

Helpful hints for encouraging participation

Invite friends to share their memories of your loved one, and let them know how their participation is important to you. This eases the concerns of those who may think their own experiences or relationship with the deceased were relatively insignificant, or who are hesitant to appear to be seeking the spotlight.  Encourage those who are uncomfortable in front of the camera to record their message or story, which can accompany a video or slideshow of still images. 

Offer to scan and return traditionally-printed photographs, and ask for details such as the date and place images were made, names of those featured, and a brief caption explaining the circumstances. Is there a good story behind that photo? (There almost always is.)

Useful tools for creating memorial videos

Most of us already have video recorders on our phones or in our modern digital cameras. Those of us who don’t have someone in their inner circle who can assist. Likewise, you might enlist someone to help with the project as a “tech support” liaison. With their permission, provide their contact information to those who might need a little help. 

Here are some resources to help you and your contributors organize and produce a memorial video.

VHS to file service

There’s no need to purchase equipment to transfer old VHS tapes to .MPG, .MOV or .MP4 files. These familiar retailers will digitize old home videos and either save them on a DVD or memory stick for easy access and sharing. 

Free video editing software

Most home computer operating systems include basic video editing programs. You can also download free or inexpensive software that will allow you to stitch together video segments, create slideshows, and add voice-overs and music—all without the need to intern at a major movie studio. This list from Digitaltrends includes excellent recommendations. 

Sources for soundtrack music

You might want to include a few of your loved one’s favorite songs in their memorial video as long as you’re not using the end result to generate income (for example, on a monetized YouTube channel). Still, you’ll need some background music to tie your video together. 

This guide provides tips for sourcing affordable, royalty-free background music

Share your video with an online obituary

What do you do once you’ve completed your memorial video? Consider building a free online obituary page for your loved one with COVITUARY™. There, you can register your loved one’s memorial site, post video links, upload photos, add your memorial service livestream feed, and create a multi-featured tribute. Visitors can sign the virtual guestbook and even make charitable donations in honor of the deceased. 

Unlike expensive newspaper obituaries or online memorial services offered by funeral homes, you have creative control over your COVITUARY™ page, and you can easily edit and add to it as whenever you wish. There’s no cost, and the secure site will remain online as long as you’d like. 

It’s the next best thing to being there together. 

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