Reichmuth Funeral Homes Now Offers Webcasting Services to Their Client Families
Reichmuth Funeral Homes, Inc.
Bennington, Elkhorn, Valley and Yutan, Nebraska
Reichmuth Funeral Homes Now Connects Families and Friends Around the World with Memorial Service Webcasting
Elkhorn, Nebraska; January 8, 2009 “” The staff members of Reichmuth Funeral Homes are pleased to announce that webcasting is now available to their client families. “This cutting-edge technology is an innovative way for us to bring memorial or funeral services to members of the family and the wider circle of friends who are unable to attend in person,” says Jon Reichmuth.
“Families and friends are scattered -- often around the world -- and it’s at times of grief and loss that their absence is keenly felt by those left behind. It’s our goal to help everyone come together to celebrate the life of their loved one, and find comfort.
“Many people haven’t heard about webcasting,” continued Reichmuth. “A webcast is simply a broadcast of the service, distributed over the Internet using streaming technology. It can be viewed live or recorded, and viewed when friends and family wish to -- sometimes over and over again.”
Reichmuth Funeral Homes chose to work with the leader in live Event Internet broadcasting solutions, Event By Wire and are the first funeral home to partner with them to provide this service in Nebraska. Based in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Event By Wire applies state-of-the-art technology to eliminate location, costs and personal circumstances as barriers to participating in important life events.
The technology is portable, too. “This means that we can take it anywhere; broadcasting services and events held in parks, on golf courses, in churches; wherever the client family wishes the services to be held, added Reichmuth. “This is another way to build flexibility into every celebration. No two lives are alike, and no two memorial services should be; webcasting allows for the utmost in personalization.”
Webcasting is just one more way Reichmuth Funeral Homes continues to provide their client families with innovative ways to celebrate the lives of their loved ones.
The following article appeared on the front page of the Sunday Omaha World Herald
Published Sunday March 8, 2009
Funerals are now just a mouse click away
BY DANE STICKNEY
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
When traveling salesman Jack Rittenhouse died of cancer in February, folks from as far away as Pakistan and Costa Rica mourned.
They told his widow, Angie, they wished there was a way they could get to his hometown, Waterloo, Neb., for the funeral, but the trip was too costly or time-consuming. Turns out, Angie told them, they could take part anyway.
All they needed was an Internet connection.
Reichmuth Funeral Homes in the Elkhorn area used cameras and computers to webcast Rittenhouse's funeral live on the Internet. The mortuary appears to be the first in Nebraska using technology to share what traditionally has been a private, personal gathering.
The technology has advantages. Rittenhouse's friends and family in 85 locations around the globe logged on to watch live video of the funeral. From as close as Omaha and as far as Islamabad, they were able to digitally take part.
But some traditionalists find it hard to embrace. Is nothing, not even a funeral, sacred in this digital age?
Jon Reichmuth lets his clients answer that question for themselves. He runs funeral homes in Elkhorn, Bennington, Valley and Yutan and offers free webcasting for funeral and graveside services.
In December, Reichmuth contracted a California-based firm, Event by Wire, to provide a video camera and technical support.
The company advises mortuary employees on how to film the service and hosts the video on its Web site for up to a year. Family members invite people to watch the service by sending them a link and a password to the company's Web site.
Roughly 75 percent of Reichmuth's clients have elected to webcast their services. The technology gives their far-flung friends and family an experience they otherwise couldn't have.
Jack Rittenhouse's funeral is a prime example. The 37-year-old Hewlett-Packard salesman traveled around the country and sometimes abroad. He developed close ties with people thousands of miles from eastern Nebraska.
Reichmuth asked Angie Rittenhouse if she would like to webcast her husband's Feb. 12 funeral. She had never heard of the practice but thought it was an ideal way for the far-reaching net of friends and family to celebrate Jack's life.
The webcast captured the funeral inside an Elkhorn church. Nearly 600 people attended the service, which featured a slide show of images from Rittenhouse's life and a flower arrangement with ears of corn and a mini John Deere tractor.
Reichmuth employees also taped the graveside service and put it on the Web site a few hours later. They couldn't webcast the interment because the cemetery had no Internet access.
Once the webcast was posted, Rittenhouse's friends and family around the globe could see the 23 firetrucks that led the former volunteer firefighter's procession to the cemetery. They could hear two bagpipers play "Amazing Grace."
Angie received dozens of e-mails from those who had watched online.
"They told me they felt like they were part of the funeral," she said. "It made me feel warm inside to know they were there watching and supporting us."
She has since gone back and watched archived parts of the service and interment online.
Reichmuth has broadcast 13 other funerals online, with mixed interest. A few, like Rittenhouse's, have drawn nearly 100 viewers. Others have attracted fewer than 10.
Customers who elect not to webcast tend to be older and live in rural areas. Almost all their family members physically attend, and they're leery of having their services posted online.
Others are tied to tradition. Reichmuth held a funeral this weekend for clients with extended family in England. Webcasting would have been an effective tool for far-away mourners, but the clients felt the technology detracted from the reverence of the occasion.
Reichmuth discovered webcasting at a national conference last year. He's noticed clients “” mainly baby boomers “” breaking from tradition. Their funerals are more like parties than services and are highly personal. Some have sports logos on their caskets or shoot their ashes into the sky with fireworks.
For them, webcasting is a tame no-brainer.
Many across the country feel the same way. Event by Wire is the nation's largest funeral webcaster and has been in business for 18 months. It now serves more than 100 funeral homes in more than 40 states. Some of the mortuaries offer webcasting as a free perk, while others charge as much as $300 to add it to standard funeral packages.
Reichmuth is Event by Wire's first Nebraska client. Some area funeral homes have posted taped video of funerals but haven't yet webcast services.
The trend leaves Larry Compeau conflicted. He has studied funeral rituals as a professor of marketing and a consumer psychologist at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. He understands the value to people who can't attend the funeral and agrees funeral webcasting is quickly becoming mainstream.
But he's worried about the technical intrusion into a personal ritual.
"It's another step in our cultural base that could undermine how we connect and maintain relationships with other people," he said.
Webcasting makes it easier for people to shirk their obligation to physically attend funerals, he said, and the technology has a layer of creepy voyeurism.
A local grief counselor questions its emotional value.
"The point of a funeral is to provide support to survivors," said Robin Zagurski, a therapist and social worker for the University of Nebraska Medical Center. "Watching it over a webcast, the only thing a survivor is going to get is the count of how many watched.
"That's not the same kind of support they get when people physically attend a funeral."
It may be a different style of support, but Angie Rittenhouse happily took it.
"I was glad people were able to do it and be part of Jack's funeral," she said.