Should we have a viewing with our loved one, or remember them as they were?

How Do We Decide on a Viewing or Not?

There are many kinds of death.  Some deaths are peaceful, some are confronting, some are tragic and like we have spoken about in the past, our brain is a powerful generator of images and ideas that may not always be 100% real.  When we lose someone, we have these ideas of how they will look and sometimes we find it too confronting to confirm those ideas with a viewing.  Viewings aren’t for everyone, but we have certainly come a long way in funeral practices that have made viewings considerably more gentle and personal for our families.

A viewing is just how it sounds, time that family and friends spend with the body of their loved one.  It is a time where people say their goodbyes, offer and receive forgiveness, or where they just spend a last few moments with their loved ones.  Deciding on whether to have a viewing or not is an incredibly personal choice.

What Are My Options?

There are several options available to families when it comes to viewing their loved ones.  We have some pretty specific ideas on how viewings are best arranged for families, however at the end of the day it all comes down to personal choice.  Here are some options when it comes to viewing and what is available for you and your family.

  1. No Viewing – The family decides to not have a viewing with their loved one and the service is held without a viewing.
  2. Viewing Prior To Service – This is probably the most common choice when families decide to have a viewing with their loved one.  Most Chapels have the ability for families to have a viewing prior to the funeral service.  There are some pro’s to this type of viewing, but there are also some con’s.  Pro’s: The viewing can be open to everyone who attends the funeral service if the family so wishes. generally there is no cost associated with this type of viewing so it keeps the overall funeral expenses affordable. the viewing and the funeral all happens on the same day which some people find easier to cope with.  Con’s: The viewing is held with your loved one in their coffin. There are strict time restrictions (usually 15 minutes) for this type of viewing which can make families feel rushed. There is little privacy apart from a curtain and families don’t always feel comfortable to grieve in the way they need to.
  3. Viewing in the Days Prior to Service – This is a wonderful choice for families who want an unhurried, uncrushed viewing with their loved one.  Generally we offer our families a full hour in our viewing facility, a private climate controlled room where your loved one is presented to you in a bed rather than a coffin.  We find this approach to viewing is a much softer and more gentle approach to viewing and gives families a more natural way of interacting with their loved one.  With the barrier of a coffin removed, there is much more freedom to embrace and be close to your loved one in a quiet space with close family and friends.  Just like the other options, there are some pro’s and con’s.  Pro’s: There is ample time for family to feel that they have had sufficient time with their loved one. There is complete privacy for the family to grieve in the way they need to. There is no coffin so you are more free to be close with your loved one.  Con’s: The number of people who can participate in this type of viewing is less than a chapel viewing. There is a small cost associated with this part of the service.
  4. At Home Viewing and Vigil – Long before people commercialised the funeral industry, we kept our dead at home, washed and prepared them for their funeral and we had time to spend with them at our own leisure.  The introductions of health regulations and the outsourcing of looking after our dead, has changed this and at home vigils are less common (apart from our Maori and Polynesian friends who have this as a standard practice). An At Home Viewing and Vigil is where your loved one is prepared in our mortuary and then returned home to spend several days with family and friends. This is a time where people stop by and visit with your loved on and your family, they pay their final respects and they are able to do all of this in the privacy and comfort of your own home.  It is important to note that a properly embalmed person does not require climate controlled storage, meaning that you do not need to have air conditioning at home to have this type of vigil or viewing.  Again there are pro’s and con’s.  Pro’s: There is very little time restraint and family can take their time with their loved one before they are collected and taken to their funeral. The home environment is much less confronting for people and being in a familiar place with their loved one can be much more comforting. An At Home Viewing helps to normalise death and assists with the grieving process,  Con’s: Loved ones who are going to be taken home after their death need to be embalmed (especially in QLD where it is hot and humid) which is an invasive treatment. There is a cost associated with the additional mortuary processes and the delivery and collection to and from the home.

Regardless on the type of viewing you decide to have or if you decide not to have a viewing, it is a personal choice and preference for each person.  Don’t feel pressured into having or not having a viewing, if it is something that you want to do then by all means, make it part of the funeral arrangements, but if it is not something you want to do, then don’t.  We all grieve and say goodbye differently and that is completely ok. Just know that a viewing is your right and a funeral director should do everything that they can to make it possible for you.

For information about funerals or viewings, why not give us a call on 1300 043 522, email us at [email protected] or shout out to us on Social Media with your questions, we’d love to be able to help out!

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