“Would you like to view your loved one?” It’s a question very few people are prepared to hear, let alone respond to. It seems instinctual to say, “Of course not! I can’t stand to see my loved one that way!” It may seem as though taking a moment to see our dearly departed in that state only elongates and worsens the pain of their absence. We may feel that viewing them in death is time wasted, as it will not change the fact that they have indeed passed. Or perhaps, we often times simply feel the need to rush through our good-byes, that the sooner we dismiss our pain and press on with life, the sooner we might be able to heal ourselves. Regardless of what we might tell ourselves in the early moments of loss, the fact of the matter remains that there is no short cut when it comes to grief. There’s no way to expedite, rush, express mail, or fast-track our healing process.

With that in mind, it’s important and beneficial even, to be sure that you’ve given yourself an opportunity for acknowledgment, acceptance, and closure. Of course everyone is different, and there may be some rare individuals who can accept death the moment they hear of it or see it- but usually, most families need just a moment or two to see that their loved ones are indeed in a state of peace.

We don’t often get a chance to discuss just how important this step in the process can be. It’s at this time that the funeral staff can apply their craftmanship and skill to recreate a state of tranquility and rest that the deceased may have been robbed of at the time of passing. The goal of a visitation is to provide the bereaved a quiet moment to not only see their loved ones in peace, but also to physically and mentally acknowledge that they have passed. Typically a family might use this time to reflect on the life of the deceased, exchange stories, and share memories of times spent together. This can be a somber moment of contemplation or a bittersweet opportunity for celebration. Regardless of whichever way a family might do this, it’s important to realize that each situation will be different and unique. There is no one right way to say good bye to a loved one. Bereavement is one of the most intimate aspects of the human experience, and despite its painful nature, it is unwise to try to bypass or ignore it.

So- should you view your loved one? Ultimately that decision will be your own to make, as will be most decisions regarding funeral arrangements. There’s no umbrella answer to give as we all grieve in our own very different and unique ways. Perhaps the better question to ask though is, “How do I feel? Did I really get a good chance to say good-bye?” If you’re unsure of how to answer this, or perhaps feel negatively about your experience, then a private visitation or private family viewing may be your best answer. It really is okay to take a moment among family and friends to say your own good-bye on your terms and offer yourself as much closure as possible.

by, Amber Hardin

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