My mom's zoom funeral
My mom, Trix Alice Wells, died February 8 2018 in Victoria BC, Canada. Sadly I was not there at the end. My father, Norman, had died several years before. The 5 of us kids decided to hold a “celebration of life” for our parents, not just in Victoria, but also for all her relatives and children and grandchildren around the world.- Canada, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Netherlands, and the UK.
We ran the celebration of life on zoom. It was a big success. It was the first time our whole family had been “together” in years. Despite initial scepticism, it turned out to be a treasured time for us to learn about my mom and dad. And we recorded it for all.
In this age of no-travel, I thought our experience might be helpful to others. Here is what we did:
1. I collected email addresses of everyone who knew Trix and Norman. I created an email list
2 We found a two hour time slot and a day of the week, where all family members could dial in from around the world
3. I created a shared google doc that outlines a plan for the event ( see ours below). It included a “just the facts” section where we asked everyone to build the time line of our parents lives; knowledge spread over many generations.
4. At the main location ( in our case, the common room at co-housing in Victoria where our parents last lived), we appointed a tech-comfortable person to set up a computer, with a projector to larger screen, plus speakers.
5. I purchased a zoom pro plan to allow the call can go beyond 40 minutes and to record the call.
6. Half an hour before the start time, I initiated the meeting, and email out the link to everyone. I pushed the "record" button. Over the half hour people will start to appear. This turned out to be a wonderful time for casual chat.
7. At the appointed hour, I, as the host, welcomed everyone and then allowed every person who wants to speak, to speak. I also managed the mute buttons to eliminate distracting noises from non-speakers.
9. At the end, we all said farewell, to the family and especially to Trix and Norman. I ended the recording.
9. Later, I emailed the link to the recording to everyone.
10. A few months later, I canceled my Pro Zoom plan. ( but I am thinking of restarting it (March 2020))
Here is the outline of the Google doc we used:
I really look forward to taking part in Trix’s celebration of life along with the rest of the family.
I created this shared document to keep us (iterally) on the same page. Please update
Our laptop host: Phil
12 noon: start zoom call
Computer is set up in a corner of the room on mute, with speaker
12:10-12:30 pass the hosting over to Ian on zoom who will intro people online one by one to say their memories or stories about Trix ( and Norman if they want).
Ian hands hosting over to Victoria
Someone reads out the emails/notes that people have sent so the zoom people can hear them
Phil sets up laptop so zoom people can hear or see what is going on.
Sign off, Ian sends a link to the recording to everyone
End around 5pm
Trix’s life: just the facts - [ for family to fill in]
Born Beatrix Alice Melling on November 8, 1925 in Catford, London, England, youngest of 4 children of Hugh Melling and Annie Wignall (Trix’s brothers Philip, John and Richard)
Trix and Norman had 5 children, 10 grandchildren, 1 great-granddaughter
[List timelines of all children and grandchilren here.]
Trix dies February 6, 2018 at Hart House nursing home, Victoria, after brief (2-week) hospital stay and brief (3-week) sojourn at Hart House
Celebration of Trix and Norman’s life, Cardiff Place, Victoria and by audio-video link February 11 2018
Dispersing of ashes in Ontario, September 21, 22 2018
Set up in Victoria
Set up Wifi in common area ( Gordon, Ed, … )
Set up a speaker
Laptop with enough power to last the afternoon
Is it possible to have a larger monitor, for the zoom part of the meeting?
Test this with Ian your Saturday with a laptop
11:30 Ian to gather all the zoom participants and fix any tech issues
12:00 enable zoom in the common area