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)]
We accept the love we think we deserve. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
and she told me it was considered rude to sneak in the back and not view the body.
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.
There's always failure. And there's always disappointment. And there's always loss.
But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums.
- Michael J. Fox
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)]
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
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)]
"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." - Aubrie
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.
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.
"That's the thing about pain, it demands to be felt."
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.
Laughter will cure life's ills. Have you had your laugh today?
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.
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.
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)]
"I could have missed the pain, but I would have had to miss the dance." Garth Brooks
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)]
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.
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.
[This message edited by Dark Inertia at 8:30 PM, June 30th (Sunday)]
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.
In my effort to be *concise*, I often come off as blunt and harsh. Sorry, don't mean to be offensive.
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.
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.