When we lose a loved one, a time may be planned to see the decedent’s remains. This allows family, friends, and acquaintances of the deceased to reflect on the life lived and express condolences to the bereaved. Mourners often find a sense of closure from this custom. Sometimes survivors will take this time to place special mementos, photos, cards, or flowers in the casket with the deceased. Many times, a viewing will allow for family members who were unable to be with the deceased at the time of their death to spend time with their remains and say good-bye one last time.
This event of paying our respects may be called a variety of terms based on one’s region and culture: the viewing, visitation, laying in state, et cetera. The atmosphere of a visitation can range from solemn to light, depending on the circumstances and mood of the survivors. This ceremony may occur in a variety of settings: immediately prior to the cremation at the crematory, in a specified area of the church the night before or in the hours before the funeral service, prior to the funeral in the viewing suite at the funeral home, in a room at the family’s home, or even a memorial event venue.
At times, a family may choose to have a private family viewing, which may or may not involve embalming. (This event may have time restrictions if the deceased is not embalmed, based on state or provincial laws.) In most cases, a more formal public viewing may require preparation such as embalming or other preservation measures. This ensures the most natural appearance suitable for public viewing of the deceased. Your NFDA funeral director will guide you through the different options available for viewing a deceased loved one.