Nearing the Anniversary of the First Death in the United States from Covid, Technology Helps Modernize an Entire Industry and Make It Easier for Grieving Families.
Saturday, February 6, 2021 marks the grim anniversary of the first known American Covid-19 death. One year later, more than 420,000 Americans have died and the numbers continue to increase. In addition to the heroic efforts of first responders, there are last responders—those in the funeral and cemetery industries who support grieving families and prepare their loved ones for burial. One year ago at the onset of the pandemic, these last responders were forced to quickly and completely change their business practices when the government announced gathering laws and encouraged social distancing.
Between March and April 2020, 43 governors issued orders directing residents to stay at home and nonessential businesses to close in response to the coronavirus pandemic. With those orders in addition to federal contact restrictions, the end-of-life industry needed new ways to ensure families were able to plan and host funerals. Funeral homes and cemeteries quickly adopted technology that was once considered inappropriate or impersonal. This industry shift and adaptation to technology is now the new norm providing grieving families with ways to conduct funerals and receive much needed support from friends and family. The industry and customer journey is more progressive, modernized and tech enabled, designed to streamline all end-of-life matters from planning to commemoration.
Sympathy Brands, parent company to eCondolence.com, shiva.com and Cemetery.com, is leading the advancements to modernize the end-of-life industry. The Company introduced Viewneral® a suite of proprietary technology that allows funeral homes, cemeteries and their customers to virtually plan, arrange and attend funerals, burials and memorial services. Viewneral provides the industry with a way to deliver complete interactive and virtual services for families.
With Viewneral, a person can schedule appointments online and virtually meet with a funeral director face-to-face to make arrangements. The funeral director can conduct a virtual funeral service from any location, and provide families the ability to conduct their own memorial services, gatherings, wakes, and other celebrations of life. In addition, a family can easily share the funeral, memorial and preferred aftercare support information with loved ones at the push of a button and those attending any of the events can sign a virtual guest book and leave condolence messages.
“Our focus is helping people,” says Michael Schimmel, CEO of Sympathy Brands. “We built and continue to mature a platform that navigates the myriad of decisions faced at a time of loss. Individuals are able to find, compare and schedule meetings with funeral care professionals, submit and store pertinent information, and ultimately meet face-to-face in person, and/or virtually using Viewneral.”
The application of technology changes the way families are able to grieve and mourn loss, while at the same time assisting the end-of-life industry in helping to provide services to their clients. From online education and planning to virtual arrangements, funeral services, gatherings, celebrations of life, and bereavement gifting, the customer service and experience is dramatically enhanced.
According to Schimmel the funeral and cemetery industry, as well as consumers have embraced Viewneral as it provides families with an authentic experience. “How we handle end-of-life matters is forever changed with both consumers planning and grieving a loss, along with how the industries now provide services to these clients,” says Schimmel. “The addition of technology makes planning end-of-life matters easier and seamless.”
The evolution and changes in the funeral industry are monumental. An entire industry changed within one year. When the pandemic is over, the technology for end-of-life services will remain as it will work in conjunction with in person services as it makes planning and attending funerals from anywhere much easier.
The global pandemic realized the importance and benefits of technology as it relates to creating one’s legacy, conducting funerals and memorial gatherings and advanced end-of-life planning. Every other industry uses technology to bring people together and make it easier to plan and conduct life events. Sympathy Brands is the first of its kind technology platform integrating all aspects of end-of-life matters bringing people, tools and resources together during a time of need and grief, while also making it easier for consumers to connect, plan and document their final wishes in advance.