Film the funeral of a loved one live on Facebook or Instagram – the idea may seem surprising but, in times of confinement, more and more families are resorting to it. A way for them to honor their loved ones.

When Serge Deruette prepared the funeral for his mother Mariette, who was taken away on March 11 at the age of 89 by the Covid-19, he did not want that, in addition, this “damn virus” imposes its conditions on the organization of his burial. “I wanted to offer her a funeral worthy of what she deserved,” says France 24 the Belgian, almost 60 years old.

Except that even before the start of the containment established in Belgium – the ministerial decree on emergency measures to limit the spread of the virus was issued on March 18, 2020 -, funeral companies were obliged to protect their staff, to establish rules, which change every day and are more or less flexible depending on the region. While some funerariums and crematoriums have chosen to close their doors, others have decided to limit the number of people at ceremonies (between 10 and 20) and to prohibit the exposure of the body of the deceased. In France, a similar system was implemented by decree on February 18.

These measures have complicated matters for Serge Deruette. Between family, friends, colleagues and students, the professor of political science at the University of Mons waited for the presence of a hundred people on the day of the burial. Besides that whoever went daily to the bedside of his “Mam” during his last days, is also suspected of having been contaminated. He quickly becomes a reason. “What is the use of gathering if it is to spread the virus?”, He admits. And resolves to invite only the first circle of relatives.

“An additional injustice”

However, he refuses to let the virus win again against his mother by completely depriving her of hers. “An additional injustice”, according to him. Four days before the funeral, he decided to film the funeral and post it on Facebook.

“I contacted a friend who told me that a smartphone was enough,” he said before adding: “As I am not a computer addict, my friend agreed to come to organize the Facebook live “.

The ceremony, which was held on March 14 in the crematorium of Uccle, near Brussels, was broadcast on the account of Serge Deruette, in public. From their screen, Mariette’s cousins ​​and her childhood friend, who were unable to make the trip, were able to watch Serge Deruette’s tribute to his mother. On the songs of Yvette Horner and Jacques Brel, a slideshow also retraced the life of this woman passionate about cats and accordion. About 400 people attended the virtual funeral, which lasted 15 minutes. “I received around 500 comments, it makes my heart warm,” he says. Two days later, 1,200 people had watched this video.

Serge Deruette does not regret his choice. This moment of collective meditation – even virtual – counts. The fact remains that on the day of his mother’s funeral, he said to himself on Facebook “sad not to be able to [vous] give me a hug. “He intends to remedy it as soon as the confinement ends:” So I promise, we will have a party around August 31 for his birthday. She would have been 90 years old. And this time, you will all be invited. “

Funeral 2.0 did not take place with confinement

This personal approach is far from being an isolated case. This same March 14, other funerals were broadcast live on social networks. In Italy this time, for the funeral of Priscilla, died at 17 years old. The ceremony, in which a few relatives were able to participate with a mask, lasted an hour. It was watched by 9,000 people on the Facebook page of the Evangelical Church, says La Stampa.

In France, the video of the funeral of Cyril Boulanger, this 38-year-old RATP agent, judo champion and father of two children who died from the Covid-19, was viewed more than 16,000 times. “It aroused many moving comments, showing solidarity with the family,” reports the Courrier Picard on April 16.

These online funeral ceremonies did not take place with containment. “Many bereaved people are already using it for various reasons,” said Hélène Bourdeloie, lecturer in information and communication sciences at the University of Sorbonne Paris Nord, to France 24. Students and people living abroad who cannot go to the funeral, cites the digital sociologist as an example. “In some cases, for lack of anything better, these online funerals help the grieving process,” she deciphers.

“It’s incredible violence to bury loved ones by Skype”

But in times of confinement, more and more families are turning to the 2.0 funeral. The Muslim funeral business El Imded, based in Nanterre, has seen this practice double since the start of confinement. “We had never offered this service before, explains the manager, Lotfi Benabid. Today, one in two families asks us to film the ceremonies on WhatsApp or Viber for loved ones who have stayed in Algeria.”

If El Imded, which does not have the means to offer this service due to a lack of staff, lets families do it, some funeral companies include it in their services. According to data from the Happy End blog, dedicated to freeing up speech on death and burials, more than a third of them offer to film or take photos of the ceremony for relatives who are not attending the ceremony. . “42% of them share it live on Instagram, 30% on Facebook, and 5% via Skype,” we can read on the site.

Still, the dissemination on social networks of this intimate moment may seem, in the eyes of some, intrusive or impersonal. No handshakes or hugs, hugs or even physical interactions, as in traditional ceremonies. “It is incredible violence to bury loved ones by Skype or other without saying goodbye physically, without possibly touching their body, forehead, giving a last kiss,” said sociologist Hélène Bourdeloie. “Especially in France, we are still very attached to traditional funeral rites.”

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