Our Journal

Should I view my loved one after death? Exploring the pros and cons

Experiencing the death of a much loved partner, family member or close friend is undoubtedly one of life’s most challenging experiences.

Whilst in the early stages of this loss, there will be many important decisions to be made, quite quickly. At the same time, you are likely to be managing difficult emotions like grief, shock and sorrow.

At Tomorrow Funerals, we aim to keep things simple. The last thing we want to do is further overwhelm our clients with extra decisions around type of coffin, coffin handles. In fact, we’ve created a simple funeral package with a transparent price so that the focus is on the life celebration.

It’s important to note that a viewing is not included in our package. This is simply because the majority of our clients do not wish to attend a formal viewing. For many, spending a little time with their person at the hospital or nursing home after they have died, feels like a more natural way to say goodbye to their body.

However, if viewing a loved one’s body is important to you, we can certainly arrange this. Our team of caring, experienced mortuary professionals will make the preparations and we will book this in at our mortuary facility.

What would the viewing be like?

Our viewing room is simple and comfortable. Prior to the viewing, we’re there to answer any difficult questions and discuss ideas around music, lighting a candle or whether to bring personal items. When you arrive, we welcome you and take time to gently explain the layout of the room.

Whether to book a viewing or not comes down to personal choice but may be influenced by cultural and religious beliefs. Other factors that might include: when you last saw your loved one, whether they died suddenly and how close you are to them.

We’ve put together some of the pros and cons of having a viewing to help you make an informed decision during this difficult time.

Pros of Having a Viewing:

  • Closure and Acceptance: One of the most significant advantages of having a viewing is the opportunity to see the person you love, one last time. This can help in the process of acceptance and provide a sense of closure, allowing for a final goodbye. It might be especially important if your person died suddenly.
  • Emotional Healing: Viewing the person who has died can often facilitate emotional healing. It allows family and friends to come together and express their grief openly, share stories, and reminisce about the good times. This shared experience can be therapeutic and comforting.
  • Honouring Memories: A viewing provides a platform to celebrate their life in an intimate, private setting. It’s an opportunity to read a letter or give them a small personal item to be taken with them to be cremated.
  • Supporting the Grieving Process: Having a viewing can help those who are grieving to come to terms with the reality of the loss. It enables them to process their emotions in a supportive environment, surrounded by friends and family.
  • Respect for Cultural and Religious Traditions: Many cultures and religions encourage or even require viewings as a way to pay respect to the deceased and follow traditional practices.

Cons of having a viewing

  • Emotional Stress: A viewing is not for everyone. For some, the experience can be emotionally distressing and traumatic. It may intensify grief and create lasting, distressing memories. If you spent time with your loved one after they died (at hospital or at home) this might have given you the closure required.
  • Physical Condition: Depending on the circumstances of death, the physical condition of your loved one may not be suitable for viewing. This can be particularly challenging for families when faced with a traumatic death or severe physical injuries.
  • Mortuary preparation: Preparing your loved one for a viewing may require the use of embalming fluids to rehydrate and ensure they are presentable. The use of extensive mortuary care may be required when a person has been held at the Coroners Court for an extended period. Our expert mortuary team will advise us on whether they believe it’s necessary, after they have arrived into our care (and we can see them.) We will give you honest feedback on this topic.
  • Costs: Preparing the body for viewing, including embalming and cosmetology, will add to the overall funeral costs. Families on a tight budget may need to consider the financial implications. Note: At Tomorrow Funerals, we have a policy to keep all additional costs (outside our package) to a minimum.
  • Privacy Concerns: Some family members may feel uncomfortable with the idea of a public viewing. Family dynamics come into play and emotions can run high. It’s important not to feel pressured into having a viewing by anyone.

To sum up, the decision to have a viewing of your person after death is a deeply personal one. It should be made with careful consideration of the pros and cons. It might also be important to take into account your loved ones wishes, as well as the emotional well-being of the grieving family and friends.

If you’re uncertain about whether to have a viewing, we are happy to chat this through with you. Alternatively, a grief counsellor can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances and needs.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a meaningful and healing experience that honours the memory of your loved one and provides solace during this difficult time.

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Our Journal contains our entire list of resources for creating personal memorials.
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