Regardless of belief, the departure of a loved one is always a reason for the union of family and friends with the intention of honoring them in the best way. and get some relief. However, the coronavirus pandemic has prevented thousands of these farewells from taking place.
Those who are there to offer the service that the relatives want are the workers in the funeral sector, who, as he explains to 20minutos Alfredo Gosálvez, Secretary General of the National Association of Funeral Services (PANASEF), se have faced “an unprecedented challenge”.
“It has been like a continuous 11M. In the 11M 200 people died, here there have been days in which that number has doubled, “he explains.” On a normal day, in an April month of a normal year, an average of 75 people die. For more than two weeks in Madrid almost 400 people have died a day. “
Even so, he considers that the sector – in which the companies that are part of PANASEF represent 75% of the funeral services in the entire country – has been able to hold up well because “they have been modernizing and making an effort to improve its infrastructure, improve their services, improve staff training. ”
Although he claims that “the funeral professionals have left their skin”, he does not forget that the great victims “are the families that have not been able to fire the relatives as they would like.” For this reason, some companies in the sector that offer digital tools to families They have gained a special prominence these months.
Years ago there are companies that offer funeral homes digital platforms where cshare memories of the deceased and that, in addition to bringing together family and friends who are far away at the time of the wake or the ceremony, they also help to create an atmosphere of tribute.
This is how Rafael Baeza, commercial director of I live I remember, who says that in 2017, with the death of his father, he decided to do something different by installing a screen in which attendees were able to share messages and images. He says he liked the experience so much that in 2018 he created a company to offer this type of service to funeral homes.
Although the physical support in the room – a screen where you can see photos and messages – is a fundamental part of the experience, Baeza explains that his digital support serves also as a kind of digital obituary.
First, the mortuary activates the tool for the deceased’s close friend who will act as administrator. Later, this person will be able to spread a message in which information is given, such as in what mortuary the deceased is in, where and when the mass will take place, and a link through which You can collaborate in the tribute.
During the pandemic, although the experience in the room could not be maintained, Baeza says that digital interactions on his platform increased markedly, where family members They were able to share messages of affection and condolence.
Since 2014 it has Alife creating these “intimate and private web spaces”, says its CEO Jordi Martínez. Between 2014 and 2017 it functioned as an open social network, “where everyone could download the application, create the profile of the deceased and share it.” But it was in 2017, already knowing the sector better, when It was decided to offer this tool directly to funeral homes.
Alife also focuses its service on the distribution of all the information on the events scheduled for the death and on providing a tool “destined for the grieving process, where the whole family can gather and share all kinds of content. ”
Also one of those close to them acts as administrator who gives access to the rest of family and friends to the platform. Within this private platform, an even more intimate setting known as the ‘family area’ can be created in which a special invitation is needed. Those who are not in this area can only see the details of the deceased and the ceremony.
All those who receive an invitation to the ceremony can confirm their attendance through the platform. At the end of the scheduled events, attendees receive a questionnaire with which to assess the quality of the service. From Alife consider that this use is “very interesting because It has become a meter for funeral homes“.
Martínez explains that during the pandemic the use of the platform has multiplied by 5. “It has gone from being an option to practically be the only alternative availableIn addition, given the situation, they have also integrated a new service consisting of offering the ceremonies in streaming.
Who has also decided to offer the possibility of following the ceremonies remotely is the company Funeral Accessories. Specialized in offering all kinds of “technological or physical” services to funeral homes, its manager Daniel Fernández says that the possibility of streaming was raised based on the restrictions of the alarm state.
Not only can the ceremony be seen, but “each person pYou can decide where you want to look“Since they use a 360-degree camera. Martínez also points out the ease of installation:” It is a ‘plug and play’ system that requires no installation other than a network cable and power. ”
For the moment, he explains that this technology has been used with the Áltima funeral services and in some ceremony at the Litoral de Sant Adrià de Besòs funeral parlor. In this case, a joint ceremony was held of several deceased Covid who fue seen by “more than 3,000 people”. During the broadcast, family members were also able to send condolence messages via chat.
He says that this retransmission was “very well received.” “What was seen is that people need to say goodbye to their loved ones. The relatives received him with brutal gratitude, “he explains.
After entering the ‘new normal’ family members have been able to be close to their deceased again, although with obvious changes such as the establishment of protocols disinfection, physical distance or capacity.
For Gosálvez, although these technological advances will continue to be very present, “families do not want funeral rites to disappear. Spanish culture, the average Spanish, we are used to we need our mourning, our parting time and do it with the rest of family and friends. ”
The same is the opinion of the entrepreneurs who offer these new tools. Physical presence will continue to be essential, and digital will be a support for those who cannot be or to foster memories with the deceased.
Daniel Fernández considers that the option of his 360-degree streams will not change funeral traditions. “Whoever wants to continue going to the mortuary or oratory will continue to do so, because it is more a social issue. When they are very close people, the human warmth will always be more comforting for families.”
For Baeza, from Vivo Recuerdo, a substitute service is not offered but a complementary one, “it is a service that is therapeutic.” For his part, Jordi Martínez de Alife also considers that these services are complementary and adds that they could have become more popular since “Society is very open to using them.”