Michael Schimmel, CEO Cemetery.com, eCondolence.com and shiva.com Outlines the “New Normals” for Consumers as a Result of the Pandemic.
Miami, FL– February 9, 2021 – When extraordinary social moments like a pandemic occur, there is a paradigm shift in industry, people’s psyche’s, and overall social interactions. Covid-19 is a social moment that has altered how the end-of-life industry operates. The pandemic has helped to evolve an industry primarily focused on in-person interaction and support for families. For individuals planning a funeral for a future need or those grieving a present loss, the Coronavirus introduced new ways to honor and commemorate loved ones and receive appropriate closure.
Michael Schimmel, CEO of Sympathy Brands, parent to shiva.com, eCondolence.com and Cemetery.com, and an innovator in the deathcare space, pivoted his company’s focus to solving the acute industry needs created by Covid-19. Sympathy Brands introduced the technology platform Viewneral® to deliver all end-of-life services traditionally offered in-person in a virtual format. With its platform offerings already in the market and others well into development the social shift accelerated adoption of Sympathy Brands technology creating a seamless experience. By necessity, people realized the inclusive nature of virtual capabilities, along with the elements of convenience that make it a little bit easier during a challenging time.
According to Schimmel, the funeral industry adapted its methods to embrace and transform the traditional in-person family conferences, graveside services, and even gatherings into virtual experiences. Leveraging technology, funeral care professionals are able to focus on guiding families during this vulnerable time, with burying loved ones, grieving a loss and receiving much needed support from people close and around the world.
As a result, virtual services are now expected and the new normal. Schimmel says these are the top five new end-of-life shifts that are here to stay.
- Adoption of Virtual Funerals and Memorials by Funeral Homes, Cemeteries and Consumers
Prior to Covid-19, the majority of funeral homes and cemeteries did not provide virtual funerals, burials and memorials because in-person support was considered the norm and readily available. However, when Covid-19 gathering restrictions and social distancing took effect, the industry and families continued to require the same level of support. Consequently, funeral homes and cemeteries quickly adapted to offer virtual services, grieving families and their supporters did as well. Now, individuals for any reason whatsoever (e.g., age, illness, unable to travel or attend in person) are able to join and support a family by attending the online funeral or memorial. When the pandemic is over, technology for end-of-life services will remain as it gives supporters of those grieving the opportunity to attend a funeral and be supportive from anywhere in the world, while also providing business efficiencies for the industry.
- The Awareness of Pre-Planning
In general Covid-19 has reshaped and created discussion surrounding the historically uncomfortable and often avoided topic of death and end-of-life planning within families. Mortality is now in the forefront of minds for people of all ages, encouraging discussions about end-of-life wishes and even prompting the pre-planning of funerals and desired memorialization. Pre-planning a funeral removes some of the future stress that loved ones face when having to coordinate and pay for arrangements. Planning also ensures that final wishes are known and can be honored giving a person peace of mind that these decisions are made. With this greater awareness and willingness to pre-plan, the industry has made it easier for consumers to attend pre-planning meetings and information seminars through the use of technology.
- Online Arrangements
Prior to the pandemic, end-of-life services such as funeral arrangement meetings would typically occur in-person. Due to travel safety, social distancing and gathering restrictions, in-person meetings to arrange a funeral are more challenging and even impossible. The industry has now embraced technology and online capabilities for meetings and planning. This solution, like other end-of-life services provides a more convenient forum for both families and the industry. Virtual arrangements provide a simple streamlined approach to research, making funeral arrangements directly with funeral homes, and sharing the information with loved ones. Virtual arrangements remove many barriers that families face when scheduling to meet with a funeral expert, such as timing conflicts and travel issues. The industry will continue to use virtual arrangements in conjunction with in-person meetings to better serve their families.
- Virtual Gathering’s – Memorials, Wakes, Shiva’s
An important part of many end-of-life traditions include gatherings before and after the funeral to pay respects to the deceased and to provide support for grieving loved ones. Covid-19 gathering restrictions have made it challenging for the community to come together. To help provide the needed support and continue traditions important to the grieving process, virtual gathering technology uniquely designed for the funeral industry allows families to host wakes, shivas, memorials and other gatherings. One such technology, Sympathy Brands’ Viewneral® Gathering is more than just a traditional online meeting software. Viewneral Gathering is the only technology specifically for end-of-life events. The easy-to-use platform contains enhanced features including a personalized web page displaying all the gathering and service details, a private link to the gathering that can be shared, aftercare preferences such as preferred meals and bereavement gifts and a virtual guest book of attendees with their condolence messages for the grieving family, among other unique components. In a post pandemic world, virtual gatherings will continue to provide friends and family from around the world the opportunity to participate, pay respects to a loved one and help support someone grieving.
- Virtual Grief Support Services and a Change in Etiquette
Miss Manners once proclaimed the text message to be the electronic “equivalent of a Post-it note and about as serious in nature as the hastily written note passed in class.” But the pandemic has changed that. During this period of social distancing, mourning with family and friends may be difficult or not possible, so it is encouraged to remain in close contact by phone, text, and FaceTime. An email or text containing heartfelt sentiments is now acceptable and a quick way to send support while not expecting someone to respond or talk on the phone. Despite the barriers to provide in-person support, the mourning family should still be cared for and sending messages and sympathy gifts remain an appropriate way to express condolences. Technology has made it easier to send same day food, flowers, sympathy baskets and condolence meals immediately after a loss, throughout the year and beyond including holidays and personal milestones like anniversaries when grief can escalate.
About Michael Schimmel
Michael Schimmel is the CEO of Sympathy Brands, the leading technology company and marketplace for all end-of-life matters. Consumers rely on the trusted family of brands, shiva.com, eCondolence.com and Cemetery.com for education, guidance and tools to plan in advance or at the time of need. In addition, Sympathy Brands delivers a complete software platform to funeral homes and cemeteries simplifying and automating each step from making arrangements, to Viewneral® , virtual services and gatherings, to memorialization and aftercare. Schimmel is frequently quoted as a DeathTech and end-of-life industry expert. For more information or to speak with Michael Schimmel, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.