Funeral homes now live streaming memorial services

By Megan Cerullo

/ MoneyWatch

Live-streaming technology has entered the funeral home. Increasing consumer demand, fueled by the ubiquity of popular streaming services like Netflix, is driving the relatively new practice of providing internet-enabled recordings of funerals for those who can't attend in person.

Families can opt in to the service for less than what they would typically spend on flowers, according to one company that sells its proprietary technology to funeral directors around the world.

"I think it's the emergence of video-on-demand, like Netflix. It's becoming more common to expect to go to the internet to watch something and it will be there — especially among younger generations who get annoyed when it isn't," said David Lutterman, founder and CEO of One Room, a company that provides streaming services exclusively to funeral homes.

Trending News

Roughly 20% of funeral homes across the country now offer a streaming service to families, according to Bryant Hightower, president-elect of the National Funeral Director's Association. It's a consumer-driven trend: "A lot of people have experienced watching a funeral online and now the market is really beginning to come to us," Lutterman, of One Room, said.

It suits families with children who might be away at college or living abroad, for example.

"Families tell us they are really touched by it. It feels like they are part of the experience and they are happy to be included because it's marginalizing when you want to be at a funeral but can't, so they express gratitude for being able to see it," Lutterman said.

Other would-be attendees are sometimes prohibited from traveling because of the cost or their deteriorating health.

K.M. Robinson, a social media marketing strategist, used her technology savvy to set up a live stream of her grandmother's funeral for relatives who couldn't attend the service.

"She died rather unexpectedly, and relatives across the country with health issues were heartbroken they were going to miss the funeral, so they asked us if we could record it for them," Robinson said.

Her grandmother's sisters were among those who tuned into the service remotely. "I set it up through a webinar program and they got to experience it with us," Robinson said.

Interpersonal connections are increasingly scattered across the country — and world — making it hard to reunite on short notice.

"People don't grow up and live and die in the same places anymore, so we have connections across the country. It affords folks to participate in that event to help them deal with their grief and their loss when people move and live in different cities," Hightower said.

A change-averse funeral industry

Streaming technology has been around for a while, of course. But the notoriously archaic funeral profession has been slow to enter the digital age and incorporate it into its services.

Chalk it up to the nature — and age — of those who work in the business. "Funeral homes tend to be family businesses passed down over generations and I know funeral directors in their 80s who still work seven days a week. You don't see that across many careers," said Philadelphia-based funeral director Brett Schwartz.

Schwartz, 41, offers One Room's streaming capabilities to clients, but only about 10% of the families he serves choose the service.

"At the end of the day, the adoption of anything like this across the funeral profession is slow because of the nature. It's very old-school," he said. He sees potential for growth, though. "I think it will definitely become more widely offered."

Hightower, of the NFDA, also expects the technology to become more widely used over the next few years.

"I do believe that funeral directors, by nature, have been more conservative than in other professions. We are seeing that change as younger funeral directors enter the profession and families ask for non-traditional offerings," he said.

Big biz opportunity

An estimated 2.4 million funerals are performed by roughly 19,000 funeral directors in the United States each year, according to U.S. Funerals Online, and Schwartz says he expects the technology-adoption rate to increase.

Lutterman, for one, is banking on it. One Room, which began as a business that live streamed everything from birthdays to corporate events, seven years ago decided to focus exclusively on funerals and memorial services.

"We could do other events, but we have made the decision as a business to understand very deeply the sector we operate in. You have to treat this event a bit differently because of the nature of the content," Lutterman said.

It's a delicate topic — and the key is to be as unobtrusive as possible.

"You don't want to change the experience by having a camera man floating around filming people crying. But it it's filmed by a discreet camera on the ceiling it's like being a fly on the wall," Lutterman said.

There are, of course, privacy concerns when it comes to sharing personal anguish online.

"There is some reluctance of families to air their grief over the internet. They didn't want to be portrayed in an unfavorable light in times of emotion, stress and grief. Sometimes it's unpredictable as to how they will act, so to throw it out there with the unknown of how it will unfold is unnerving," Hightower said.

First published on August 15, 2019 / 6:06 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Video shows Conor McGregor sucker-punch man in bar

The man appeared unfazed after the retired MMA fighter attacked

2H ago UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor knifefree.jpg

U.K. tries to fight knife crime with "racist" chicken box campaign

Hundreds of thousands of boxes printed with the slogan "#knifefree" were sent to fried chicken restaurants around the country

2H ago knifefree.jpg Sewing machine repair jeans trousers, close-up.

Report finds sexual violence at Levi's, Wrangler factories

The Worker Rights Consortium details sexual harassment and abuse at textile factories in Africa making popular brand-name clothing

3H ago Sewing machine repair jeans trousers, close-up. Western Greenland Hit By Unseasonably Warm Weather

July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth

On the last day of the month alone, 11 billion tons of ice melted across Greenland — contributing to record low sea ice levels

2H ago Western Greenland Hit By Unseasonably Warm Weather cbsn-fusion-reports-migrant-children-face-neglect-at-texas-border-facility-thumbnail-1878028-640x360.jpg

Court says detained migrant children must get soap

Federal judges dismissed the government's argument that providing "safe and sanitary" conditions for detained children doesn't require soap or toothpaste

3H ago cbsn-fusion-reports-migrant-children-face-neglect-at-texas-border-facility-thumbnail-1878028-640x360.jpg Two Women Dressed in Black and Crying at Funeral

Funeral homes now live streaming memorial services

Roughly 20% of funeral homes in U.S. offer an online option to grieving family and friends who can't attend the event

3M ago Two Women Dressed in Black and Crying at Funeral Donald Trump Holds MAGA Campaign Rally In New Hampshire

Trump rallies supporters in New Hampshire — live stream

The president hopes to win a state he narrowly lost in 2016

58M ago Donald Trump Holds MAGA Campaign Rally In New Hampshire plane-crash-today.png

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and family survive Tennessee plane crash

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife were unharmed when a small jet ran off the end of the runway at Elizabethton Municipal Airport

updated 0M ago plane-crash-today.png Handout photo of an rtist's rendition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) proposed cigarette packaging carrying graphic new health warnings

FDA wants to put graphic warnings on cigarette packs

In a move to amplify the health risks, images would show neck tumors, feet with amputated toes and diseased lungs

2H ago Handout photo of an rtist's rendition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) proposed cigarette packaging carrying graphic new health warnings 0815-ctm-cabullyincident-battiste-1912430-640x360.jpg

Mom says middle school bully left son with severe brain damage

"That child I dropped off at 7:30 that morning, he is not the same anymore"

2H ago 0815-ctm-cabullyincident-battiste-1912430-640x360.jpg Donald Trump Holds MAGA Campaign Rally In New Hampshire

Trump rallies supporters in New Hampshire — live stream

The president hopes to win a state he narrowly lost in 2016

58M ago Donald Trump Holds MAGA Campaign Rally In New Hampshire istock16795721large.jpg

If black families had white wealth, economy would be $1.5 trillion bigger

The typical white family in America has 10 times as much as the typical black family—and that hurts everyone

2H ago istock16795721large.jpg cbsn-fusion-reports-migrant-children-face-neglect-at-texas-border-facility-thumbnail-1878028-640x360.jpg

Court says detained migrant children must get soap

Federal judges dismissed the government's argument that providing "safe and sanitary" conditions for detained children doesn't require soap or toothpaste

3H ago cbsn-fusion-reports-migrant-children-face-neglect-at-texas-border-facility-thumbnail-1878028-640x360.jpg US-POLITICS-TRUMP

House Judiciary subpoenas Lewandowski hours before Trump rally

The House Judiciary Committee has issued subpoenas for former Trump aides Corey Lewandowski and Rick Dearborn

4H ago US-POLITICS-TRUMP Police Officers Shot In North Philadelphia

Pennsylvania officials demand action on guns after violent shootout

Maurice Hill, 36, is expected to face multiple charges, including attempted murder and aggravated assault

2H ago Police Officers Shot In North Philadelphia alien.jpg

"Storm Area 51" now becoming "Alien Stock" music festival

Before you ask who is performing, the answer is: who knows?

2H ago alien.jpg woodstock-cover-burk-uzzle-color-promo.jpg

Woodstock at 50, in the words, and music, of those who were there

A half-century after a mass of humanity converged on a farm in Bethel, N.Y. for three days of peace and music, musicians and concert-goers recall a unique moment for their generation

Aug 4 woodstock-cover-burk-uzzle-color-promo.jpg Houston Astros v Cleveland Indians

MLB player becomes American citizen years after escaping Cuba

Because of America's relationship with Cuba, Puig had to be smuggled into the country through Mexico

Aug 14 Houston Astros v Cleveland Indians Todd Chrisley, Julie Chrisley

Reality TV stars plead not guilty to tax evasion charges

Todd Chrisley posted on Instagram on Monday a denial of any wrongdoing and alleged a former employee was "stealing from us big time"

Aug 14 Todd Chrisley, Julie Chrisley taylorswift-uplift-1911917-640x360.jpg

Taylor Swift sends fan $6,000 for tuition

Taylor Swift just surprised a fan from Canada by sending her more than $6,000 for tuition and rent after reading about her family struggles in a Tumblr post.

Aug 14 01:06 taylorswift-uplift-1911917-640x360.jpg Two Women Dressed in Black and Crying at Funeral

Funeral homes now live streaming memorial services

Roughly 20% of funeral homes in U.S. offer an online option to grieving family and friends who can't attend the event

3M ago Two Women Dressed in Black and Crying at Funeral School Choice Utah

Overstock shares sink after CEO comments about "Deep State"

Investors are fleeing retailer Overstock after its CEO issued a bizarre statement about the "deep state" and "men in black"

4H ago School Choice Utah Facebook logo on broken cracked mobile phone screen

U.S. lawmaker joins international Facebook investigation

Rep. David Cicilline joins the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and "Fake News," as lawmakers from a dozen countries seek answers on election influencing

4H ago Facebook logo on broken cracked mobile phone screen Real Estate Upstart WeWork Releases Paperwork For Initial Public Offering

WeWork filed its IPO — now meet its We Double

A Wyoming company with a Chinese address and $441 in the bank seems poised to benefit from WeWork's buzzy IPO

Aug 14 Real Estate Upstart WeWork Releases Paperwork For Initial Public Offering 081419-dream3.jpg

Dream Chaser spaceplanes to launch on Vulcan rocket

Sierra Nevada Corp. picks ULA's Vulcan rocket to boost Dream Chaser spaceplanes into orbit

Aug 14 081419-dream3.jpg Western Greenland Hit By Unseasonably Warm Weather

July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth

On the last day of the month alone, 11 billion tons of ice melted across Greenland — contributing to record low sea ice levels

2H ago Western Greenland Hit By Unseasonably Warm Weather president-theodore-roosevelt-glacier-point-yosemite-national-park-1903-loc.jpg

Nature up close: Theodore Roosevelt, the conservation president

The conservation movement in the U.S. dramatically advanced under the 26th president's watch, as he established 5 national parks, created the National Wildlife Refuge System and U.S. Forest Service, and oversaw the protection of 230,000,000 acres

5H ago president-theodore-roosevelt-glacier-point-yosemite-national-park-1903-loc.jpg my-post-49.png

12-year-old discovers apparent woolly mammoth tooth in Ohio

Jackson Hepner was taking photos with his family when he spotted the giant tooth along the edge of a creek

19H ago my-post-49.png Food and Farm Dehorning Cows

This university is banning beef to fight climate change

"Declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words," the school's warden said

23H ago Food and Farm Dehorning Cows 0814-ctm-babyrhino-blackstone-1911720-640x360.jpg

The fight to save the northern white rhino

The last remaining members of the species are a mother and daughter that live under 24-hour armed guard in Kenya – but two rhinos thousands of miles away could offer hope

Aug 14 0814-ctm-babyrhino-blackstone-1911720-640x360.jpg Handout photo of an rtist's rendition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) proposed cigarette packaging carrying graphic new health warnings

FDA wants to put graphic warnings on cigarette packs

In a move to amplify the health risks, images would show neck tumors, feet with amputated toes and diseased lungs

2H ago Handout photo of an rtist's rendition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) proposed cigarette packaging carrying graphic new health warnings Stress comes with the territory

Crying on the job? 8 in 10 workers say they've sobbed at work

Workplace weeping is a common experience, with almost half of workers blaming their boss or colleagues

9H ago Stress comes with the territory Rotem Amitai is seen in an undated photo provided by her family.

Flight attendant diagnosed with measles after N.Y. flight has died

El Al flight attendant Rotem Amitai was diagnosed with measles after flying from New York to Israel

19H ago Rotem Amitai is seen in an undated photo provided by her family. novartis

Brother scientists no longer at Novartis after drug scandal

Brian Kaspar and Allan Kaspar have left the drugmaker after the FDA said the company could face criminal penalties

Aug 14 novartis 0814-ctm-dementia-narula.jpg

Tips for lowering blood pressure, which may cut dementia risk

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found a link between high blood pressure and dementia

Aug 14 0814-ctm-dementia-narula.jpg Baseball player expression losing sucks

U.S. kids are quitting sports amid rising costs, inequality

Youth sports participation is rising among richer families, as children lower down the ladder exit the field

5H ago Baseball player expression losing sucks Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York

Stocks whipsaw amid recession fears, China's threat

Financial markets stabilize after Wednesday's 800 point plunge amid recession signals and China's trade war threats

updated 39M ago Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York FILE PHOTO: A police officer stands next to a police cordon after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso

Walmart CEO: Time to debate an assault weapons ban

America's largest retailer estimates it represents about 2% of the U.S. firearms market and about 20% of ammo sales

4H ago FILE PHOTO: A police officer stands next to a police cordon after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso Stress comes with the territory

Crying on the job? 8 in 10 workers say they've sobbed at work

Workplace weeping is a common experience, with almost half of workers blaming their boss or colleagues

9H ago Stress comes with the territory Sewing machine repair jeans trousers, close-up.

Report finds sexual violence at Levi's, Wrangler factories

The Worker Rights Consortium details sexual harassment and abuse at textile factories in Africa making popular brand-name clothing

3H ago Sewing machine repair jeans trousers, close-up. knifefree.jpg

U.K. tries to fight knife crime with "racist" chicken box campaign

Hundreds of thousands of boxes printed with the slogan "#knifefree" were sent to fried chicken restaurants around the country

2H ago knifefree.jpg ap6608010465.jpg

America's deadliest mass shootings

These are the deadliest mass shootings in American history

Aug 5 40 photos ap6608010465.jpg Michael Gargiulo sits in court during his murder trial in Los Angeles Aug. 6, 2019.

Guilty verdict in "Hollywood Ripper" trial in Los Angeles

Prosecutors charged Michael Gargiulo with murdering three women – including 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, who was friendly with actor Ashton Kutcher

3H ago Michael Gargiulo sits in court during his murder trial in Los Angeles Aug. 6, 2019. Police Officers Shot In North Philadelphia

Pennsylvania officials demand action on guns after violent shootout

Maurice Hill, 36, is expected to face multiple charges, including attempted murder and aggravated assault

2H ago Police Officers Shot In North Philadelphia FILE PHOTO: A police officer stands next to a police cordon after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso

Walmart CEO: Time to debate an assault weapons ban

America's largest retailer estimates it represents about 2% of the U.S. firearms market and about 20% of ammo sales

4H ago FILE PHOTO: A police officer stands next to a police cordon after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso 081419-dream3.jpg

Dream Chaser spaceplanes to launch on Vulcan rocket

Sierra Nevada Corp. picks ULA's Vulcan rocket to boost Dream Chaser spaceplanes into orbit

Aug 14 081419-dream3.jpg The supermassive black hole located 26,000 light years from Earth in the center of the Milky Way.

Our galaxy's black hole suddenly flashed a bright light

Scientists called the flashes "unprecedented"

Aug 14 The supermassive black hole located 26,000 light years from Earth in the center of the Milky Way. US-astronomy-meteor-Perseid

How to watch the Perseid meteor shower peak Monday night

Anyone trying to watch the Perseid meteor shower should try to stay away from bright city lights

Aug 12 US-astronomy-meteor-Perseid ebbdvtjx4aacxou.jpg

A meteor large enough to see from Earth just hit Jupiter

The rare moment was captured with nothing more than a backyard telescope in Texas

Aug 9 ebbdvtjx4aacxou.jpg cbsn-fusion-saturn-rings-disappearing-nasa-2019-08-06-thumbnail-1906783-640x360.jpg

Saturn's rings are disappearing

NASA's Cassini spacecraft ended its historic exploration of Saturn in 2017 and, slowly but surely, scientists are learning more about the ringed planet. Data from the 13-year mission helped scientists determine Saturn's rings are much newer than the planet itself — and they're disappearing.

Aug 6 00:42 cbsn-fusion-saturn-rings-disappearing-nasa-2019-08-06-thumbnail-1906783-640x360.jpg 1slide-the-worst-movies-of-2019-ranked.jpg

The worst movies of 2019

The worst films of the year star big name actors, including Keanu Reeves, Anne Hathaway, and Chris Hemsworth.

Aug 9 51 photos 1slide-the-worst-movies-of-2019-ranked.jpg jake-barlow-oddities-and-curiosities-expo-39.jpg

The Oddities & Curiosities Expo

A traveling exhibition of gothic and occult art, sideshow performers, and bizarre specimens stopped outside Chicago, where CBS News photographer Jake Barlow took in the odd sights

Jul 22 24 photos jake-barlow-oddities-and-curiosities-expo-39.jpg gettyimages-486106944.jpg

New York's Central Park

America's first major landscaped public park, the 840-acre park in Manhattan welcomes more than 37 million visitors every year

Jul 21 25 photos gettyimages-486106944.jpg Charles Manson

Manson Family murders: The terrifying story in pictures

A look at the cult slayings that shocked – and scared – America

Jul 3 44 photos Charles Manson star-trek.jpg

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream soon

Jun 24 30 photos star-trek.jpg cbsn-fusion-the-inverted-yield-curve-and-fears-of-another-recession-thumbnail-1912799-640x360.jpg

Popular

"Inverted yield curve" sparks recession fears

Investors are uncertain about the economy after the yield curve, an indicator on the bond market, inverted for the first time in more than a decade, potentially signaling the risk of recession. CBS News correspondent Don Dahler reported from the New York Stock Exchange.

updated 8M ago 01:28 cbsn-fusion-the-inverted-yield-curve-and-fears-of-another-recession-thumbnail-1912799-640x360.jpg 0815-xjq-xjr-newhampshirerally-1912774-640x360.jpg

Trump holds rally amid 2020 shakeup

President Trump is holding a rally in New Hampshire tonight, as 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke puts pressure on Republicans to act on gun control. Meanwhile, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper ended his bid for the presidency. Ken Thomas of the Wall Street Journal joined CBSN to break down the day's campaign news.

1H ago 09:38 0815-xjq-xjr-newhampshirerally-1912774-640x360.jpg cbsn-fusion-july-2019-earth-hottest-month-on-record-thumbnail-1912742-640x360.jpg

July was Earth's hottest month on record

July 2019 is now officially the hottest month on record. The average global temperature last month was 1.71 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

2H ago 00:34 cbsn-fusion-july-2019-earth-hottest-month-on-record-thumbnail-1912742-640x360.jpg master-farming-climate-1920x1080notyt-1898130-640x360.jpg

A climate reckoning in the heartland

A historic flood in March 2019 left much of America's heartland under water. Grain farmers already struggling to bounce back from the Chinese trade war must now grapple with the realities of climate change that threaten to change the future of farming forever. Now, some farmers are implementing practices that could potentially reverse the effects of climate change – and provide a bigger profit. In this CBSN Originals documentary, Adam Yamaguchi travels to Nebraska, where he meets two farmers on different paths, both determined to pass their legacies on to the next generation.

Jul 26 23:07 master-farming-climate-1920x1080notyt-1898130-640x360.jpg 0815-xjy-xjz-israelrepresentatives-new-1912757-640x360.jpg

Israel bars visit by U.S. congresswomen

Israel says U.S. Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib will not be allowed to enter the country on a trip they had planned. The two have been outspoken supporters of Palestinian rights. Former Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni, now a professor at NYU, joined CBSN to discuss the decision.

2H ago 06:20 0815-xjy-xjz-israelrepresentatives-new-1912757-640x360.jpg