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With technology and digital media transforming the world, there are now an increasing number of ways to honor someone’s life, therefore changing the face of death care. To be successful today, funeral directors should be digitally savvy. Online guest books and obituaries are now the norm. Video and photo slideshows are replacing photos placed around the casket or urn at the funeral, music playlists are often replacing live pianists or organists, some families want the services to be videotaped or even streamed online, and of course social media sites serve as a place for family and friends to come together and grieve and memorialize the deceased, for the days, weeks and years after their passing.

Even the planning of funeral services has changed, as family members can now more simply collaborate and share information via secure funeral websites, blogs, Facebook, Skype and FaceTime. They can easily share their pictures and videos via social media pages, cell phones and tributes websites.

There are many upsides to digital media when it comes to mourning the loss of someone, but just like with anything, there are also some downsides. Online guest books need to be monitored for unpleasant or derogatory posts, which often your funeral home will do for you, as our firms do.

I expect to see a great deal more evolution in the industry during my lifetime. Although, despite digital media changing much of the way we say our final farewells and grieve, I don’t see these progressions ever taking the place of a funeral. Ultimately, there is no substitute for a funeral service, where one can find closure by properly saying goodbye to a loved one. The emotional experience of a service – whether paying your respects to the deceased in their urn or casket is irreplaceable and a necessity for close friends and family to truly come to terms with someone’s death.

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