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Weird topic. Funerals and viewing the body.

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willowiris posted 6/30/2013 11:05 AM

This is a weird thing to talk about, but I am kinda wondering if I'm the only one like this.

A dear friend from our Sunday school class passed away of a brain aneurysm, and her funeral was yesterday. I purposely arrived just as the funeral was starting so I could miss the whole viewing thing.

I don't know what it is about me, but I hate the whole tradition of walking past a coffin and viewing someone after they have passed. I know why this is necessary for some people, for it to sink in that she is really gone, but for some reason, i hate this. I know she's gone. She is not there. We cannot hear her laughter anymore. I arrived just as they were closing the coffin lid.

Granted, I have seen dead people. I am a nursing major. I had to view slides of a person cut in half length wise and identify the part highlighted in lime green for a test. I have seen it all from adam's apple to xiphoid process, but when it comes to the whole coffin thing, nope. No can do.

My mom kinda made me do that with my grandma, and I did for respect with my aunt and grandpa. A co-worker and I went to the funeral for another co-worker when her husband passed, and she told me it was considered rude to sneak in the back and not view the body. I guess I got it wrong. I thought funerals were for the living. To say good-bye, to celebrate a life, to love one another in a time of loss.

Anyway, I have ordered that if I am to pass away, I am to be creamated. Sprinkle some of me in Florida at the beach, some of me in New York City because i love it and it's polluted anyway, some of me in the town where I live now, and some of me in the town where I lived my whole life. And for God's sake, don't be looking at me because that's creepy as hell to me.

This service was just beautiful, BTW. One of the best things I heard was "We shouldn't say 'I'm sorry for your loss.' because to lose someone means we don't know where she is, and we do know that she is in heaven.'" (Sorry, not trying to be religious or cause debate. It was just very touching.)

[This message edited by willowiris at 11:06 AM, June 30th (Sunday)]

nowiknow23 posted 6/30/2013 11:11 AM

and she told me it was considered rude to sneak in the back and not view the body.
Who would consider it rude? The grieving family? I highly doubt they're keeping track of who walks to the coffin and who doesn't. The deceased? I'm confident they are beyond caring about it. Other mourners? Why would they care?

Mourning is such a personal process. I would find it rude if someone tried to assert any kind of judgement on how someone else mourns or shows their respects.

My condolences on the loss of your friend.

Kajem posted 6/30/2013 11:14 AM

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend.

I would rather have my last memory of the people I love be of them Alive preferably smiling, laughing or doing something that brought them joy.

That being said, I don't mind viewing the body.... the energy that made up that person is no longer there..the body really is just a shell without the energy that is the soul to animate it. An open casket is a reminder of that to me.

And I also want to be cremated... then tossed.

[This message edited by Kajem at 11:15 AM, June 30th (Sunday)]

Lucky2HaveMe posted 6/30/2013 11:17 AM

I'm right there with you. We lost my brother a few years ago @ age 34. Inasmuch as *I* needed to see him to really say goodbye, the whole standing there so everyone can feel awkward looking at the dead body is morbid to me.

I much prefer a private viewing for the family - no receiving line type deal - then a very personalized memorial service.

Not to t/j too much, but our church has started a memorial garden. Members can have their remains cremated and buried in the garden in a biodegradable urn. I just love this idea and have voiced my request to do this. A memorial brick is placed in the walkway honoring the buried. How much nicer is is to sit in a garden and reflect on the loved one than standing at a cold gravestone. end t/j

gahurts posted 6/30/2013 11:19 AM

In my mind cremation and viewing are separate things. Cremation or burial are choices available for inernment (I assume it's just wrong to say that we dispose of a body). And funeral pyres just are not allowed anymore.

The viewing is something separate. I've been to many wakes where the coffin was closed and a picture of the person was placed on top. This allows a chance for the family and friends of the deceased to come together one final time to honor the person and remember the good times they had together. After the viewing then you have a burial or a cremation. At least that is my thinking.

As far as being viewed - I don't think you are alone or that your thoughts are unusual.

A lot of people don't like the idea of people filing past looking at them lying there. Although I really think at that point our souls are on to bigger and better things and not hanging around by the ceiling checking out who showed up to say goodbye.

[This message edited by gahurts at 11:22 AM, June 30th (Sunday)]

ThoughtIKnewYa posted 6/30/2013 12:57 PM

I have been literally DRAGGED up to more than one coffin and forced to view someone when I didn't want to do so.

My FIL was cremated, so there was none of that. However, his loss was so traumatic that I decided that would be the last funeral I attend, except for my parents & spouse.

I've lost a few loved ones since then and I just don't do funerals anymore. Some people have a hard time understanding that, but it's just what's best for me.

authenticnow posted 6/30/2013 13:17 PM

In my religion generally it's a closed casket. I was so surprised when I went to my first Catholic wake and realized we were literally viewing the body.

When my grandmother died we privately viewed her and it meant a lot to me, although I couldn't get the image of her laying there out of my mind for years.

When my grandfather died, my aunt wanted a few nights of a viewing and it seemed so odd to me (and disrespectful because it went against his religion, although he wasn't a religious person). I just kept thinking, this is like a wake. Why is she having a wake? He is Jewish.

I was about to say that I'm sorry for the loss of your friend, but I'll change that to---I'm glad that you were blessed with having your friend in your life.

click4it posted 6/30/2013 13:20 PM

Very sorry for the loss of your friend.

Its a very personal choice and you did what felt was best for you. You came and showed your respects to acknowledge your friend and that's what's most important in my opinion.

When my father passed, my mom wanted to just cremate him and not have a viewing of his body. I was going to agree until my friend said no don't do that. I was torn, but I'm glad she stepped in and told me to have a viewing. I got to see him one more time after they took him from my home. To me that was important. But it didn't bother me that not everyone wanted to come up to the casket.


purplejacket4 posted 6/30/2013 14:57 PM

I generally will not view the body. I'll go to a viewing, sign in, and hover near the door. I'm a very visual person and want to remember the person antimated.

The exception to this is if the person looked really bad the last few times I saw them. Then I do want to see the body as the morticians generally do a good job making the person look like their normal (albeit sleeping) self.

As for fWS and me. No viewing. Memorial service with collages and ashes to be sprinkled later.

woundedwidow posted 6/30/2013 15:46 PM

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend, and I'm sure that noone thought that your missing the viewing was rude. I'm like AN; in my religion we generally don't do viewings (or embalming either). However, since I'm a convert, all of my family members who have passed have had viewings, which I just hated. I didn't want to remember them lying in a box. When my Mom passed in January, I really freaked in advance of the viewing because I thought I was going to hugely break down sobbing all over the place (her death was sudden and unexpected, even at age 94). Instead, I was very peaceful seeing her. On a side note, the worst viewing I ever attended was for a man I had dated long-term and really loved. He hanged himself in his garage. At the viewing they had a scarf around his neck to hide the marks from the rope, which almost sent me into hysterics. WHY they didn't have a closed casket still confounds me. When I die I am donating every usable bit of me to people who can use the "parts"; the remainder will be privately interred beside my late H.

Sad in AZ posted 6/30/2013 17:12 PM

Ugh; funerals. My beloved grandfather passed away when I was 15. The family 'made' the kids file past the coffin and kiss him goodbye! I lost it; started sobbing--not because he was my gramps; because it felt disgusting! Never again. (Oh, and I got smacked by my mother for over-reacting. )

My maternal grandfather died when I was 23. We drove into Brooklyn 2 nights in a row for the wake. On the second night, it was just me, my brother & the X-we arrived late. We waited on a LONG line to get up to the casket--and it wasn't my grandfather! They had moved him to another room! (Obviously I didn't know my mother's relatives as well as my father's )

When my father died, the family had a private viewing before everyone else came in. DS was 10; he walked up to the casket, looked in, looked up at my brother and said, "His mouth is sewed shut!" My brother got upset, but I started laughing; not my finest moment.

lynnm1947 posted 6/30/2013 19:00 PM

I apologize if this is too graphic.

My dad was in a coma some time and my sister and I had to make the decision to remove him from life support. We sat and watched him, his eyes open and staring straight ahead, and his mouth open like in Edvard Munch's "The Scream". So not how we wanted to remember him, but we had to stay with him, hour after hour. I was happy to see him during the open casket viewing. He looked at peace. It helped remove the vision of him in the coma.

[This message edited by lynnm1947 at 7:02 PM, June 30th (Sunday)]

jrc1963 posted 6/30/2013 19:17 PM

I am the same religion as AN and Woundedwidow... I have never seen a body in a casket. I hope to never see it either.

I have been to a few funerals of people not of my religion, but they were mercifully closed caskets as well.

I don't know how I'll react if I walk in and it's an open casket some day.

[This message edited by jrc1963 at 7:17 PM, June 30th (Sunday)]

nowiknow23 posted 6/30/2013 19:57 PM

When my grandfather died, my uncle made the arrangements. Grandpa wanted to be cremated, but the family decided they needed to do a visitation first. However, they saw no need to pay extra for a coffin since he was going to be cremated, so they just laid him out on a coffin cart and stuck him in the front of the room.

It's been well over 20 years, and I still can't get that image out of my head. So disturbing to walk into the room expecting there to be a coffin that I could avoid, and instead seeing him like that.

kernel posted 6/30/2013 20:22 PM

My personal feeling is that the surviving close family should do what brings comfort to them. I know when my x's sister died unexpectedly in a car accident, he and his brother never really, truly thought she was dead until the viewing. So I guess that provided some kind of closure for them. My sister-in-law tried to force her young son to view the body and he was terrified. Fortunately, the other relatives told her to stop being cruel and he didn't have to do it.

When my father passed away last November, after a long period of illness and time in hospice, we went with cremation. It had always been his wish, and none of us wanted to remember my Dad the way he was at his death. I am still haunted with how he looked at hospice. I'm working on retraining my mind to switch to other memories of how he looked when he wasn't sick. So, a viewing would have just been more trauma.

Dark Inertia posted 6/30/2013 20:30 PM

Bah, I used to work as an aid for hospice while going through school, for many, many years. I have not only seen many deceased people, but people in the process of actively dying. I don't care to view an open casket. It reminds me of one of my mother's friend, who was a young child during the Korean War (in Korea). She use to say: "I saw so many dead bodies during the war, I don't need to see anymore now!" I feel the same way.

[This message edited by Dark Inertia at 8:30 PM, June 30th (Sunday)]

gonnabe2016 posted 6/30/2013 20:46 PM

'Viewings' are what I grew up knowing.....and it's just kinda become part of my *good-bye* ritual. I just look at the person and *remember* them and say a silent 'thank you for touching my life'. I can't explain why, but doing that *helps* me. Although last summer when Sultan's gma died....she was going to be cremated but they 'kept' her for private family viewings. The problem was that the funeral home had her laid out inside a cardboard box. For real. A cardboard box. It took me a little bit to 'get past' that display and *get to* my was really disconcerting.

My mom died when my oldest was 5. Sultan spent time explaining how God had taken the parts of gma that liked to laugh and play video games with him and that it was just her body there, etc, etc. So while we're standing in front of the casket my DS pipes up and says very seriously "Did God take gma's legs too?" (since only the top half of the casket is open).

But having said all of that, I can't imagine ever thinking poorly of a person that didn't want to view a body. Everyone deals with death/grief so differently and I believe that those differences should be respected.

And for God's sake, don't be looking at me because that's creepy as hell to me.

FeelsSoRight posted 6/30/2013 22:14 PM

Never have liked the whole viewing the body tradition. I grew up with it, but always thought it morbid.

When my mom died in 2010, her wishes were to be "laid out" (as our family always called it)and be buried. I won't tell you the whole awful story of how the funeral parlor was very unprofessional except to tell you how the meeting the day after she died went. The man "caring" for our family (NOT!) started the conversation with "A standard casket is 24" wide and your mom's shoulders were 25"." and looked at me to try to sell me up to an oversized casket. Instead I just looked at him and said, "I don't think she'll be uncomfortable." and it just got worse with each step we took. Now, 9 months later, in May 2011, my dad died. He has always wanted to be cremated. So we went to a highly recommended but smaller funeral home and they treated us like family. It was the best experience a person could have under the circumstances of an only child losing both her parents within 9 months of each other. Dad's body was cremated and we put the ashes in a beautiful carved engraved wooden box. It sat on display with his military flag, momentos, photo collages, etc. We had music that was beyond appropriate and applicable to him and his life. The pastor, a friend of mine, reminded us of the fun things of Dad's life. I spoke and the crowning touch was that we drove my dad's classic (but not show-worthy) car - which he loved - and I held him on my lap for his last ride to the cemetary where he was buried above my mom's casket in a military honor funeral. (SO TOUCHING in and of itself)

I have told my husband, kids and friends that how we did my dad's service is EXACTLY what I want for myself.

Jen posted 7/1/2013 18:22 PM

I don't go to viewings. Ever. For anyone.

I just don't think it is necessary. The person is no longer there, it is just a shell.

If there is an afterlife, heaven ect ect then they know what you say/feel whether you are looking at their body or not.

I just don't get it. My mom was horrified when her aunt STOOD UP IN THE PEW to take pictures at my Oma's funereal(maternal) She keeps them in a photo album, like a regular one you have out for people to look at. She actually get's OFFENDED if you say you don't want to see them. She sent copies of the pics to the family after she had them developed.

I held my baby after I delivered him. I don't think of it the same way. I have 2 pics of him, one is an ultrasound photo and one the nurses took for me in the nursey. They are both put away and not for display, not do I take them out to show them to anyone. EVER.

My Xh family is this way. They kept his grandma in the nursing home in her bed till EVERYONE could get there to say goodbye. Then they still had a viewing before the funereal. Xh was adamant about all this happening for him as well.

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