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A virtual farewell: Fargo company offers funeral webcasting service

FARGO — Many people have been forced to miss a funeral service at some point due to scheduling conflicts, distance or financial restraints, but Kyle Fogarty and Shane White of Fargo have come up with a solution: funeral webcasting.

In 2013, the business partners launched Midwest Streams, a website that hosts videos of funerals through a link embedded on the funeral home’s obituary page.

Shawn Bainbridge, owner of Ranney-Bainbridge Funeral Homes in Wheaton and Herman, Minn., said eight out of 10 families he sees elect to use the service.

“Seemingly there is always an aunt or uncle somewhere who can’t travel, or a niece or a nephew, whomever it might be,” he said. “It helps them feel like they’re still a part of the service if they can watch it online.”

How does it work?

Fogarty and White initially intended to stream services live, but funeral homes’ Wi-Fi and Internet speeds were often unreliable. They also found that most people who couldn’t attend the service in person were also not free to watch the live feed.

Instead, funeral directors film the service and then upload that video to Midwest Streams. The company’s software then turns it into a link that can be pasted to the funeral home’s website.

Fogarty said their service is more professional than hosting the video through Vimeo or YouTube.

“It’s tacky to watch a funeral on YouTube. When you want to watch Uncle John’s funeral, to click a button to go to a YouTube page, that’s so weird. That’s not what this is for. It’s much more elegant and it’s specifically for funerals or death care in general,” he said.

Midwest Streams charges funeral homes a monthly fee for the service. The funeral home has the option of adding it to the obituary page or providing a secure link for families who prefer more privacy.

National response

While Fogarty says the concept has been a bit slow to catch on locally, they have worked with funeral homes across the country. They have hosted 750 services and accumulated over 44,000 views since they began last year.

White hopes more funeral directors will soon offer the option because many families do not know it is available.

Fogarty added that webcasting is not only for people who were forced to miss a funeral service.

“Let’s say a family member who is close to you passes away, you’re probably not in a good mental state to watch the funeral at the time,” he said. “Not even the next day. Maybe not even the next year. When you’re in a proper mental state, maybe years down the road, you’re going to want to go back and see it.”

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