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New Zealand Company Ready For Funerals During Virus

Kiwi tech company OneRoom developed the concept of attending funerals online to counteract the many reasons people couldn't attend in person. But they never anticipated that Coronavirus would be one of those reasons.

The virus, which as of yet has no cure, has infected over 160,000 people worldwide and has caused at least 6,500 deaths. Many events have been canceled and in Italy, funerals have been banned altogether.

OneRoom’s CEO Dave Lutterman admits he is as confused as anyone by Coronavirus and its effect on people and business. ‘We’ve been aware there are times where people struggle to make it to funerals of loved ones,’ he says. ‘From the beginning, we thought about the issues of people being too far away, or being too sick to attend, but the problem of having an infectious virus in the community fits the same solution we have developed.’

‘By recording the event, which can be watched live, or later, these friends and family can view the ceremony from the safety and comfort of their own home.’

OneRoom’s services are not on a public channel like YouTube or Facebook. Any device that can connect to the Internet and play video and audio will work. The ceremony is privately stored indefinitely on behalf of the family, and is accessible to view for three
months after the service.

Lutterman: ‘As well as people who watch remotely, we also receive a lot of feedback from people who have sat through the actual event, but have missed so many important things. Due to uncontrollable grief, they just don't hear it. These family members can watch the service again, away from the emotions of the day.’

OneRoom is used in over 150 locations across Australia and New Zealand. While major centres are well covered many regional locations were quick to use the system as they were often the ones who had to deal with long-distance travel.

Lutterman: ‘The older we get, the closer we are to having to think about making arrangements. I remember when my mother died, we had so much to deal with. Basically, you’ve got to unwind a life. At the same time, you've got to organise a funeral. It's just overwhelming. Understandably, in this situation, people can barely function, let alone think about webcasting the ceremony.’

‘It’s such a shame if the service goes unrecorded as you lose an important piece of history. The recording becomes an emotional asset and part of the healing process. If you make the decision not to do it, it's too late, that piece of family history is lost and memory begins to fade immediately. You start losing someone because you start to forget.’

‘A recording assures you that no matter where people are, they'll be able to connect with their loved ones. Even if the very worst happens and that someone is in self-isolation, they can still be a part of the service, enabling them to capture one of life’s most important moments.’

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