Viewing My Loved One…Should I?
As Funeral Directors this is a question we are asked frequently.
Not always in such a direct way of course – but when I sensitively touch on this topic with our client families; I see all too often and understandably a look of pain and sometimes indecision. And quite honestly, my heart aches just a little as I take a deep breath to have a gentle and informative chat. There is no doubt that sometimes people regret seeing, or as we say in the industry –
‘viewing’ their loved one. On other occasions people regret not having made the decision to see them one last time.
There is quite simply no easy answer; after all it is such a very personal choice, and many factors may contribute to this. It’s a well known fact that seeing a loved one again may help enormously in the grieving process itself. Spending quiet time with your special person can be a beautiful uplifting experience, and in years gone by it was accepted as a normal part of saying farewell.
So why would people regret this decision?
Many factors influence the way a person looks in death. For example; the length of time they were deceased before located, if they died as a result of trauma, drugs that may have been present in their body, if they had been very ill before death, their age and their general state of health before they passed away.
All of these things and more can greatly affect the outcome of a persons appearance in death, even after expert and professional care by an experienced Mortician. Occasionally in some rare situations we feel strongly that we have a duty of care to simply say ‘NO’.
I can speak from experience. Many years ago I elected to view my beautiful Sister after her death as a result of a horrific car accident.
To say I remained shocked for a long time afterwards is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong – my sister didn’t look bad; in fact she looked quite lovely. But she looked absolutely nothing like the sister I knew. But it was only by looking at her hands that I could be sure it was actually her. Although I was not working in the funeral industry at the time, I remain shocked and disappointed to this day, that no one from the Funeral Company prepared me in any way for the experience. Further to that, I am quite sure had they spent time with me, helping me to consider it a little more, that I would not have elected to see her. I’m also glad to this day, that I gently suggested to my parents to remember her with love, the way she was. And at the very last moment my parents walked away from the viewing room. I can feel my heart rate increase with a few goose bumps going on as I write this, such is the effect it had – and I apologise if sharing my story has been upsetting for any reader.
But I feel it’s important to share. The best education I feel I can give to my client family is to be prepared for the possibility of feeling blessed to have seen their loved one – or for the possibility of feeling regret. No matter the talents of any qualified mortician, generally speaking a person who has died will appear different.
I can say with a degree of joy that our client families have for the most part been very pleased with the decision to see their loved one. We go to great lengths to ensure this experience is the best it can possibly be and that families are educated.
Travelling this journey with a family is an honor and blessing, as is seeing the emotion people feel as they stare in wonder at the beauty of their loved one as they lay peacefully at rest. Maybe wearing a favorite piece of jewellery, or maybe holding their rosary beads or a treasured photo or letter. It’s times like these that I’m so thankful for the courage they found to see their special person that one last time.
Thankyou for reading my story..
Oakdale Funerals Mooroolbark