“I was very surprised at my reaction. Seeing John in his casket wasn’t something I was looking forward to. His daughter (from his first marriage) really wanted an open casket. So, I agreed. Mostly just to remain on good terms with my stepdaughter. He looked so peaceful. He had a Mona Lisa smile. I am so glad I didn’t stick to what he and I had talked about. The opportunity for that last good good-bye ended up meaning the world to me… and his daughter.”
Many long-standing funeral practices, like viewing the deceased, are undervalued today. Perhaps we should think again? Maybe go slowly? Allow for individual family members to say goodbye in a way that is most meaningful to them.
There is a value to “seeing” the deceased. If you doubt that value think about what happens when there is a sudden, unexpected death. Body recovery is high on everyone’s list. Seeing is believing. Some family members may find an opportunity to see the deceased helpful. Some, like the woman who wrote the opening quote, may be surprised at the comfort the opportunity to see the person they love at peace brings.
The funeral director is there to guide you. Ask questions. How can we give my grandson an opportunity to see his grandfather? What if some family do not wish to see dad? Mom didn’t want an open casket but some of us would like an opportunity to see her one last time. What can we do?
Funeral directors are always willing and able to allow for individual family differences. A daughter who prefers not to view the body and grandson who would very much appreciate an opportunity for a face to face farewell. One need not exclude the other. Funeral directors have solutions. When you meet with yours, be open. Share your family’s needs and ask questions.