Nfld. & Labrador

Life of Clarenville woman celebrated with virtual funeral

Despite restrictions on funerals as a result of COVID-19, Megan Warren's family was still still able to remember her life after the service was taken online.

'It's a lot of extra work, but ... I have a deep sense of satisfaction,' Andrew Ball says

Megan Warren, from Clarenville, died on March 28 at the age of 31. Her family worked with their pastor to organize a virtual funeral. (Submitted by the Warren family)

Despite restrictions on funerals and other gatherings as a result of COVID-19, a family has still been able to remember the life of a Clarenville woman after her funeral was taken online.

Andrew Ball, pastor of Calvary Pentecostal Tabernacle in Clarenville, organized and performed the service in front of a video camera to remember Megan Warren, who died suddenly on March 28 at the age of 31.

"A lot of aspects have changed. In regards to the service, it was just myself up in the church," Ball said.

"The funeral home brought the individual up to our church and we did the whole service pre-recorded. So I preached and I prayed and I sang some hymns from the piano and had to kind of piece that all together."

Calvary Pentecostal Tabernacle Pastor Andrew Ball recorded the funeral service in parts and edited them together to create the virtual funeral service. (CBC)

The choice for a virtual funeral comes after restrictions on gatherings, including funerals, have increased. As of March 24, the maximum amount of people that can gather at a funeral is 10.

On Saturday, 153 of Newfoundland and Labrador's 203 COVID-19 cases are connected to a visitation at Caul's Funeral Home in St. John's.

'It changed how we got to the destination'

During the recording of the funeral service, Ball said members of the family came into the church one by one to record tributes and songs.

"We actually had one family member who is living in China read a scripture and send it through a video that we could incorporate," he said.

Ball said the biggest challenge in performing the service in an empty church was not having people in the room and not being able to see the faces of the congregation. He also worked to edit the service together after everything was recorded.

Ball stood in the empty church to pray, preach and sing hymns on piano. (CBC)

"It's a lot of extra work, but at the end of the day I have a deep sense of satisfaction," he said.

"I'm happy to know that I was able to help a family."

In talking with the family, Ball said they were extremely thankful to be able to have a funeral despite these challenging times.

"They [were] just so grateful," Ball said. "Having a funeral, a memorial service … having that time is very important for the grief process and very important for the closure, kind of letting reality sink in that this person has passed away."

"In that moment of grief and loss, you want to be able to do what everyone else has done. You want to be able to honour their life … celebrate and gather together and support one another," Ball added.

Ball said the recorded funeral will also help reach family who might not have been able to come to the funeral under normal circumstances, helping family who live in different parts of the world share the experience.

"This individual has family all over the world, and now they [will] all be able to tune in and watch this at the same time."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Here & Now