If you’ve lost a loved one and their grave isn’t near your home, odds are that you have not visited the cemetery in months. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in travel plans for most of us, even for important sentimental trips like visiting a cemetery on an anniversary. For some people, it can feel devastating to be unable to sit at a special person’s grave and talk, grieve, or simply commune quietly, as they would in normal times.
Now, new technology is available to help anyone who is unable to visit their loved one’s grave. A new memorial tech company called AFTR sells weatherproof, solar-powered cameras that can be installed at a gravesite to use for virtual visits.
It’s an idea that predated the pandemic: When founder Joseph Schechter first began developing AFTR in 2019, he was thinking of his sister, who lived far from home and couldn’t visit their father’s grave as often as she liked. But in 2020, AFTR’s technology suddenly became even more useful.
AFTR users download an app that provides a view of their loved one’s grave. Depending on the plan chosen, that view can be a live feed or a single daily photo. The live feed includes a microphone at the gravesite, bringing the ambient sounds of the cemetery to the user even from afar. And a small speaker is installed at the grave, pitched discreetly low, so the user can talk to their loved one while maintaining their privacy.
The app also connects with Spotify, where the user can create a playlist of their loved one’s favorite songs to listen to during virtual visits.
The cameras, which are priced at $599, are sturdy and can be adapted to various shapes and sizes of headstones, including flat ones installed flush to the ground. The battery charges in sunlight, but can retain a charge for two weeks, even through cloudy days or if the solar panel is covered with snow. Night vision cameras provide a good picture even if you visit after dark.
One day – may it be soon – we’ll go back to being able to travel and mingle out in the world with much less risk. But remote technology will still be useful even in a post-pandemic world. AFTR’s original intent, to bring faraway family members closer to a loved one’s grave, will still be able to fill a need for some families. It can be used to check in on a gravesite to make sure it’s being kept neat and tidy. And for anyone who has been stopped from visiting a special grave because of bad weather, mobility issues, illness, or any other reason, AFTR will help them connect virtually.
Those who are interested in installing AFTR at a loved one’s grave will work with their cemetery to make it happen. More information is available at their website, AFTR.live.