Viewings are a way of spending time with the body of the deceased and the family of the deceased before the funeral service. As with funeral and memorial services, viewings offer the opportunity to support the family in their time of grief and spend time with the family or others grieving.
can i attend the viewing?
Pay special attention to how the announcement of the viewing was worded. If it is an open viewing then most likely the family is leaving the invitation open to anyone who knew the deceased to attend. If the announcement states close family and friends and you have not received an invitation (verbal or written), you should respect their wishes and not attend.
when will the viewing happen?
The viewing could take place a few days before the funeral service at the Funeral home. It could also take place the day of the funeral a few hours before the service is to start, at either the Funeral home or funeral service location.
what happens at the viewing?
The body of the deceased is present for a viewing. You may want to prepare yourself emotionally for this. You should not feel pressured to view the body, and if you are uncomfortable viewing the body then you should consider not doing so. You are under no obligation to view the body if that makes you uncomfortable, but if do, don't linger too long by the casket.
Most times the body is in an open casket in a private room or at the front of the chapel. The casket is located in such a way so that those attending can choose whether or not they want to view the deceased.
The Funeral Home staff will allow the opportunity to the family to view the body first. After the family has had their time, they will allow others to spend time with the deceased. You can do this alone or in a group, whichever makes you feel most comfortable. You may wish to go in with the family, to reminisce about the deceased and to show your support to them.
what to wear.
Dress conservatively. Traditionally people only wore black or dark colors to any funeral events, however that is no longer the case. Your attire should be subdued, unless otherwise requested. The family may ask guests to wear a certain color in honor of the deceased. Take cues from what you know of the deceased and the family to chose your attire. Most importantly, make sure you are comfortable in what you are wearing and that you are not drawing particular attention to yourself.
who to bring with you.
Avoid bringing a guest to the viewing unless it is a partner, spouse or other person who was also close to the family or the deceased. If you have any children, in most cases it is best to leave them at home. Typically only the children, grandchildren or children who are close family attend the viewing. Death can be very hard to understand for children, and unless you decide it is necessary for the child to attend the viewing they should be left at home.
what to say.
If you knew the person who died but not the family, you should be prepared to introduce yourself. Immediately upon arrival offer sympathy to the family and let them know your name and how you knew the deceased. If you are close to the family, you may have more heartfelt words to say. Always keep your voice low and avoid outbursts of crying or laughter. It is acceptable to reminisce about good times with the family, but out of respect to the event keep your mood and voice subdued.
how long do i stay?
First thing is to not show up too early. In most cases the Funeral home staff will not allow you to view the body before the family has had a chance to do so.
If the viewing only states a time (ie. 1pm), then make sure you are not late. If the viewing has a range of time (ie. 1-4pm), then you are free to come anytime during this range within a half an hour before the end time.
Once the family has had a chance to view the deceased, they may invite other guests to view the body with them or give guests a chance to have some time alone with the deceased. Take a few minutes with the deceased but remember not to linger too long as other people will need some time to pay their respects.
What if I cannot attend?
If you're unable to attend the viewing, send a heartfelt note expressing your sympathy to the family. Follow up with flowers or a donation in honor of the deceased.
an unwritten, unspoken contract to keep them alive in our memories.
Death is most often observed by viewings and funerals. Viewings and Funerals are how we who remain pay our respects, say our public goodbyes and let the family see they are not grieving alone. Our being there says to family that those they've lost are not forgotten. A viewing can be a more intimate place to show the family your support and say your goodbyes personally to the deceased.