Blackhead writer sees the merits of live streaming

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No matter who you talk to these days, they are likely to have a family member or close friend somewhere on the mainland.

letter to the editor

Chances are they keep in touch given the convenience of the social media. Technology has literally eliminated distance as a barrier to social interaction.

For as long as I can remember, members of my family have lived out west. Letters, phone calls and occasional visits have been the means whereby we’ve been able to maintain a semblance of former family relationships and at least stay informed on substantive family matters.

Initially when family was young and everybody’s day was taken fully with making a living and trying to meet the challenges of raising a family and getting a home, there was definitely less concentration on and even less involvement in the lives of family that had moved away.

Alas, the passage of time changes everything. Children grow, get educated, move out of the family home and get on with their careers. Adults come of age where life changing events are not only possible but are also very likely to occur.

It’s an era when we have time to think, to remember and to recall events from back in earlier times. It seems that nature will prompt a reawakening of old friendships, and the need for getting closer to absentee family members scattered across the country. It’s been my experience to have realized that transition in my later years and I have to admit that it leaves a very real and very pressing urge to follow through.

I take the time to pen this observation because my siblings have spent a whole lifetime in both Alberta and British Columbia. They’ve raised their families there and have done their utmost to maintain ties with family here in Newfoundland. However try as you will there is so much that cannot be shared between families and all because of distances.

There are the events that get celebrated during early years like special birthdays, school graduations, achievement recognitions, yes, and even engagements later on that will not be shared with family back home. Parents and grandparents are always a little saddened by knowing about but not being part of these significant milestones in children’s lives.

Unfortunately death is an inevitable event that we have no control over. In March 2014 after a brief illness, my sister in Kelowna, B.C., passed away. She had lived to be 90 years of age and we were very thankful to have had her for all those years. As one might expect, the family back home wished to have been able to attend her burial service and inurnment but because of age and health reasons that was not possible. We each mourned her passing in our own private thoughts and outward behaviour. Morale remained very low and not a lot was being said or done. We just wished all would be over soon.

There was a surprise awaiting us. Actually it was in the last hour preceding the funeral service that word came through from Springfield Funeral Home in Kelowna informing us that the funeral service would be live streamed and it would be available to all her family and friends here in Newfoundland. We went into action immediately and spread the word of the good news; we were going to be part of her final ceremony after all.

The reception was beyond fabulous. The resolution was perfect and audio left nothing to be desired. They even went so far as to tell the guests at her service that they could all stand, face the camera and wave a hand to acknowledge her family and friends watching back home. I just can’t find the words to say how pleased we were and the satisfaction we got from that gesture of Springfield Funeral Homes providing such a service.

It is because there are so many families here in Newfoundland and Labrador with family spread all across Canada (and elsewhere in the world for that matter). Events like this are happening to families all over, there is no good reason why they should not have the option to participate is such a ceremony as our family did. We really did feel that we were a part of her burial service.

Live streaming could be a standard in service available to all families when a similar circumstance occurs and funeral homes should be encouraged to provide same. Live streaming can fill an urgent and strong emotional need.

— George Penney writes from Blackhead.

Organizations: Springfield Funeral Homes

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Kelowna, Alberta British Columbia Springfield Canada

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