With the ban on gatherings, the funeral is now done live on Facebook. From Brescia to Bologna, dozens of examples. Parishes and honors adapt to the times
At the last greeting in streaming we don’t speak, we only write. There is no hug, there is no noise, only a flow of “R.I.P”, always written in capital letters, and many “heartfelt condolences to the family”. Both signed with crying emoticons. They are the funeral online at the time of the coronavirus: prohibited by decrees, the funeral will move on the web. In the Bresciano, Mantovano, Campania or Bolognese areas. Day after day, while the pandemic emergency continues and the death toll for Covid-19 is growing, funeral homes are reinventing themselves, broadcasting online videos for family members and friends locked in the house who cannot bring the latest live greeting: the funeral enters the houses. Live funeral “live” on the page of the honors, in real time on Facebook on the page of the parish, or on sites of specialized obituaries.
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In the USA, Great Britain and elsewhere, it is something that was occasionally done even before, but never thought it could become a habit, as is happening abroad and now also in Italy. Like Monday, March 23 in Crescentino, Vercelli, where the farewell to Learco Piazzo, 82 years old, died of coronavirus, took place. The family agreed to stream with the parish to welcome the affection of citizenship without creating inconvenience.
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The phone is vertical, frames the coffin: it is resting on a trolley, in the middle of the asphalt, with just three people around. You can hear the sound of the wind and alongside, between Facebook comments, hearts, virtual hugs, “likes” and messages of condolence flow. The celebration begins, the online funeral will last 25 minutes, from when the coffin is transported inside the cemetery to the last words of remembrance by the priest who speaks under the mask and holds the prayer sheets with gloves.
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Priests who set the small targets of smartphones, as if they were the eyes of the faithful: now that they no longer shake hands to exchange signs of peace, that hugs are forbidden, that heartening takes place only in words and the funeral is followed in streaming watching a video that flows, even the parish priests adapt, ask to change angles, count to three before starting to speak live.
In small cases, relatives pick up on their mobile, often after obtaining consent. It happened in the Bolognese area, where the son of a deceased gentleman asked to be able to create a short direct Facebook “for those who loved him”. Or in Erba where for the young Priscilla, 17 years old who died on 11 March from a terrible fulminant meningitis, the live streaming on the Facebook page of the local church gathers 9 thousand views and hundreds of comments.
In Lombardy devastated by the virus, where the coffins are crowded and the last farewell has already been denied for over a month, the services for streaming funerals are increasingly used. From Busto Arsizio to Bergamo, from Brescia to Crema, up to Poggio Rusco, funeral honors are organized. Many have created a “live” section on their site: they provide a link to family members who can then share it with relatives and friends and there you can follow and sometimes even comment on the farewell to the dear extinct. It happens, as happened in the Mantua, that between quarantine and infected relatives closed in the house, practically no relative can be present at the funeral: this is how the attendants of the honors take back everything, sometimes until the burial.
Only when the act ends and the coffin “disappears”, the direct ceases to function. Then the black screen appears, where it reads “the live is no longer available”. Beside the comments remain, last farewell online and at a distance – in these times of coronavirus – with those who left us.