Some of the constraints of physical memorials don’t apply in a digital format, and that is one of the most impactful benefits of hosting a virtual memorial.
A virtual memorial can include more people than you could manage in real life, and more than who could realistically make an in-person journey to the same location. You may be pleasantly surprised by how many people wish to participate, who otherwise wouldn't have attended.
Choose a date. Consider factors such as whether the memorial is tied to existing events such as a funeral, the time you'd like to allow for grieving and need for outreach and confirmation of attendees.
Set a time. Consider the time zones of participants, particularly if people from other countries will be attending. Keep in mind the full length of the program, and whether you'll want to include a community gathering at the end. We recommend a 60-90 minute service.
The location will be virtual, likely on Zoom, but you may wish not to include the actual URL of the memorial until closer to the time of the event, when you can send it to those who have confirmed their attendance by RSVP. At that point, you can share the URL and password by email or other secure means. If you do wish to include the URL in the initial invitation, do not share it openly on social media platforms like Twitter or other public arenas to avoid trouble with uninvited "zoom trolls."
Is the memorial private? Can participants invite others?
Will the memorial be recorded or streamed?
Are there any expectations/norms around dress code?
What is the order of service or the memorial program (optional)?
Is this the only memorial planned or will there will be a future, in-person event?
How can they contribute: help collect materials, make a donation, etc.?
This simple, visual set of Zoom instructions for participants (created by LifeWeb and New Narratives)
...and offering a few words to help participants prepare for the memorial.
With an invitation, you’re setting up the experience for the memorial participants. This may extend from the virtual space into their own physical space, where they will be "watching" from. What guidance can you give that helps ensure they are comfortable and prepared? Are there any participant norms that are important? Think about how to convey this information both in your invitation before the memorial and during the ceremony.
A few things you may wish to tell participants include:
Set up a comfortable space. What objects or keepsakes might you want to have around to help you remember the person and grieve?
If on video, consider the lighting and what you are showing in the background.
As appropriate to the memorial, prepare to express yourseslf, support other participants, or contribute your thoughts via chat, audio, or video.
Plan time before the memorial to ground yourself, and afterward to process. Meditation and walks are basic yet helpful tactics.
Other norms--(e.g. “do what you need to do” - it’s okay to leave and come back, you don’t need to be on video if you prefer privacy, etc).
Share the invitation via email, physical mail, online invites, or any other means to reach your community. You may wish to include a PDF copy of the invitation they can save.
Different attendees may need to receive the information on different channels. It may be worth having one member of your team take on tracking RSVPs and following up with anyone who may have accidentally missed the invite.