On 27 March 2020, we experienced a death in the family. My 75 year old uncle, who was suffering from cancer finally succumbed to his illness.
My uncle was a nice man. well liked and had lots of friends. He was an out and out extrovert, a social butterfly, if you will. Unfortunately, his death was untimely; he died during the Covid-19 crisis, during the period where funeral attendance were guided by the Government’s Covid-19 safe distancing measures, restricting visitors to 10 or less at any one time.
The problem was, my uncle had lots of friends. Many had wanted to say their last goodbyes and it was left to my cousins (his kids) to tactfully turn his friends away. This was by no means an easy task; my cousins knew that uncle would love to have all his friends and relatives present at the funeral. And they felt so guilty because they could not give their father the send off that he would have wanted.
A Very Different Kind of Funeral (Live Streaming)
As it is, we are already fortunately to be in Singapore. Many countries have already gone into full lock down mode, where mass gatherings including for funeral purposes are banned. In these countries, the dead would have to face their last journey alone.
At least uncle still had his wife, kids and their immediately family (spouse and children) see him off in his final journey. Though not ideal, I’m sure he will at least understand why many of his dear friends, relatives and even myself, could not be by his side during this time. I’m sure we all wanted to. I know for a fact my whole family wanted to, but alas, we could not.
What was comforting for me though was that the funeral services provider, Singapore Funeral Group Pte. Ltd. was able to go the extra mile and live stream the funeral service. This streaming service included all the important moments – the prayer sessions, the service on the final day as well as the final moments before cremation. It allowed those not present to witness the rituals and say their final goodbyes. The live stream was done using the Youtube platform, making it very convenient for me to watch and say my own private goodbyes.
A Surprising Revelation
After the funeral, I was able to catch up with one of my cousins, just before the circuit breaker measures took place. He was still in sorrow as he was very close to his dad. I told him how grateful I was that he was able to arrange for the live stream. That was when he revealed to me that the idea to live stream was suggested by the funeral services company. In fact, he mentioned that the company took great pains to accommodate many of their request and that they had to fork out just an additional $350 for the live stream service.
My cousin also mentioned that they were so glad they took up the service. And it’s not just so that his dad’s relatives and friends could participate in the funeral but rather because the family now has this valuable piece of recording of their dad’s final moments, to watch whenever they miss him.
Why Am I Sharing This?
As we are now on day 7 of circuit breaker, I hear of many Singaporeans fearing for their jobs. I hear too of many business owners worrying about the economic impact of Covid-19 and how negatively its going to affect their business.
But rather than worry, businesses should use this circuit breaker downtime to reinvent themselves. I use to think of the funeral industry as one that’s very traditional and thus backward when it comes to the use of technology. I did a quick check on the internet and found another funeral services provider, Solace, likewise offered this funeral live streaming service. My point is that Covid-19 has force funeral directors to change their service offerings. If they can change, so can we.
Out of SARS Came Alibaba
When SARS hit China in 2002 to 2003, a fledging 4 year old start up, with 400 staff, was forced to lock down after a staff member developed symptoms. The event force the company to push ahead it’s plans to launch TaoBao, with everyone including family members chipping in, during what was described by South China Morning Post as their “watershed” moment. The rest is now history, with Alibaba Group Holdings having conquered the world of eCommerce.
Like the Funeral directors here in Singapore, Alibaba as forced to act, if nothing else, for its own survival. We are all facing adversity now, but in time to come, those who are proactive will discover that out of adversity comes opportunity.
If nothing else, this partial lock down is a good example of the need for businesses to consider an alternative online strategy or to take some of their offline business online. With Wechat, even the smallest of retailers in China (including fruitsellers) are able to allow their customers to order online. As a nation, we are not there yet; perhaps after Covid-19, we will be.
Building a website these days is easy, especially with WordPress. If you don’t have the budget to hire a web designer, use this lock down period to learn to build one yourself. Such courses are very affordable, like the ones they have at Awesome Sites for just $39. And don’t be misled by their ridiculously low price tag; they have one of the best reviews on Facebook; 5 Star rating and recommendations based on the opinion of 482 Facebook users!
I am really tired of reading about one bad news after another whenever I flip the newspapers. I decided to blog about this so that hopefully, it will inspire some among us to reach their next level of success. And if you happen to be that someone, do drop me a note to let me know.