In an age where everything is going electronic, you can expect some out-of-the-ordinary inventions and solutions. Funeral.ly is one such platform that dwells on one subject that society generally considers gracious.
Created by Francis Chiwunda after facing “logistical hardships and frustrations after losing his grandparents”, it is a web-based event management platform that allows the bereaved or the funeral coordinator to register and manage a funeral on an electronic calendar. The use of SMS and WhatsApp is then employed to disseminate updates to mourners and family members. Venues and funeral programs can likewise be downloaded from the website.
The platform targets groups like HR departments, government departments, social and religious groups and even at family and close friends with the objective of coordinating funerals and funeral logistics capitalising on social media platforms. Events are private and shielded from search engines and a secure payment engine Stripe is used to handle transactions
The platform allows mourners, as some cultures do traditionally, to contribute funds (chema) via the common electronic payment methods such as EcoCash/ Telecash and credit and debit cards from anywhere in the world to assist in funeral expenses. It also allows ordering and sending of flowers and gifts online directly to the given address. Live streaming of the whole funeral is another feature.
It is not a funeral insurance platform or a “round” but a per-funeral coordination platform that complements whatever plans exist by giving out details to family, friends, church members, social clubs and even work colleagues such as directions. Where there is no real funeral cover, the platform is somewhat of a crowd sourcing tool for funeral financing.
My first impressions of the whole idea are that bereavements are a rather personal matter that require the dignity of personal involvement. More than just the logistics and the money required for a funeral to progress, the personal involvement of family and friends cannot be taken away.
Secondly the services that they offer are primarily what funeral houses like Nyaradzo and Doves have been offering for a long time now. funeral.ly’s point of difference seems to be communication. This means, if successful, it will have to do a lot to outpace the traditional funeral service providers.
I also feel the platform is a social misnomer that capitalises on the new age trends interfacing everything via the mobile device from communication (voice and social media), music, video, and with the coming in of IoT, connected homes and cars.
Imagine half the mourners fidgeting with their out of fashion tablets, downloading the programming while some youths are awkwardly Periscoping the funeral to their diaspora cousins. Funerals should just not be part of this undignified convenience in communication.
funeral.ly does solve two of the critical matters in any funeral arrangement, funding and coordination. There are times for the bereaved when one’s presence at a funeral really doesn’t matter if there is no money to bury the deceased. In fact, it may actually offer some members in the different parts of the world the opportunity to be a part of the proceedings via streaming.
But online funerals. Really? Aren’t we going a bit too far? Before we know it, we may really lose track of tech as a society and start hiring mourners to do the wailing for us.
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