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I’m pretty gullible, so for me the problem with April Fool’s Day is that I suspect everything with a date of April 1. Back in the days when I wrote memos, I would actually pre or post-date them so that no one would think I was kidding.
But I wasn’t sure what to think on Tuesday when I read about London’s plan to have “pay-per-view” funerals “go live”—
unfortunate wording, in my humble opinion–to allow remote mourners to express their sympathies virtually. The story appeared in the “Oddly Enough” section on Reuters–a page on the news site which is the home of the strange and unusual. But it was April 1, so I thought I’d give it another day. And since the site called “Truemors” has proclaimed it “no April Fool’s joke,” I guess we’ll call it “news.”


The idea is macabre and sensitive at the same time. Calling it “pay-per-view” is slightly inaccurate, for the technology and program exists to allow people to attend virtually when they’re too far away to be there in person–the “pay-per-view” name simply allows people to understand that there’s a fee involved, but also unfortunately evokes WWF Smackdowns or other entertainment programs. This service isn’t meant for voyeurs, it’s for mourners.
This system is one that is tailor-made for today’s globalized world.

“Families are dispersed across the world these days and sometimes it’s the case that someone cannot get home in time for a funeral,” said Alan Jeffrey, director of Wesley Music. “For those who need it, this is a very important service. It means that rather than being excluded, they can at least witness and be a part of a funeral as it happens. In a time of stress this is something that can ease the pain.”

And it’s not cheap (75 pounds, which is about $150). But how much would you pay to be there for your grieving family and friends when you otherwise would not be able to be there?

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