Hybrid funerals: how online attendance facilitates and impedes participation

Jennifer Riley* (Corresponding Author), Vikki Entwistle, Arnar Arnason, Louise Locock, Paolo Maccagno, Abi Pattenden, Rebecca Crozier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Livestreaming and filming death rites and funeral ceremonies to enable remote engagement proliferated rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many expect these options to remain prevalent going forward. This paper draws on interviews with a diverse UK sample of 68 bereaved people, funeral directors, officiants and celebrants. It illustrates how, and explains why, people’s
experiences and evaluations of hybrid funerals can vary. In a context when in-person gatherings were limited, hybridisation played a valuable role in enabling more people to engage with funerals. However, virtual attendance was often considered less satisfying than in-person attendance because it did not enable people to participate well in the funeral activities that mattered to them or to
participate with others as they would in person. Scope for participation was partly contingent on the functionality and use made of technology, including whether and which steps were taken to facilitate engagement and a sense of connection for those joining online. People’s evaluations of hybrid funerals
could also reflect their relationships to the deceased and their frames of reference - for example, whether they were comparing virtual attendance to attending in person, or to being unable to attend at all, or to an overwhelmingly large funeral.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Early online date17 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

This research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19. Grant number: [ES/V017047/1].


  • Funerals
  • CoVID-19
  • Hybrid Funerals
  • Virtual Funerals
  • Funeral technology
  • United kingdom


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