When someone you know passes away, it can be hard on everyone involved. When it's a family member, grief can take over can control your emotions and your behavior. But what if it's someone you aren't close to, maybe a parent of a friend or co-worker? What if you have never been to a viewing before? Here are some basic tips on behavior and etiquette to get you through without calling attention to yourself or stressing out the deceased's family.
What to Expect at a Viewing
This is a time when the family of the deceased will receive relatives and friends who wish to offer their condolences. This is usually a day or so before the funeral and can last for several hours. It is usually an informal, open format time without any planned structure where visitors come and go at will. Photographs of the deceased and memorabilia will typically be displayed for visitors to see. There might be a casket in the room and it could be open or closed. In some cases, if the deceased has been cremated already, there may be an urn with ashes in it or just a photo on display instead. There will usually be chairs for visitors and sometimes refreshments in another room. A guestbook lets the family know who was there that they might have missed seeing.
Paying Your Respects
Visitors will traditionally approach the closest family members first by way of a receiving line. They are often positioned near the casket or urn. If the room is crowded, make your remarks short and heartfelt. If you don't know them personally, tell them who you are and how you knew their loved one. Including a brief story or anecdote is also appropriate. It's okay if the story is humorous, as long as it isn't offensive. Relatives often enjoy hearing of happier times.
Once you have paid your respects to the family, approach the casket or urn, but only if you are comfortable doing so. Take a few minutes to pray silently or meditate to show respect. Speaking in quiet tones is also appropriate. If you aren't comfortable viewing a body, by all means, don't. Your discomfort will be evident to those around you and could cause them added stress and anxiety.
How Long To Stay
This is a common concern and is a matter of personal comfort. If you weren't close to the deceased, 15 minutes is an appropriate length of time. If you were close, or you're close to a member of the family, you should stay at least 30 minutes. If your friend needs your support in his or her time of loss, let them know you will be there as long as necessary. Remember that being there means they have your undivided attention, so turn your phone off and refrain from taking calls or checking your email at all while in the viewing room. If you must take a call, excuse yourself and take it in the foyer or lounge area.
Every viewing is a little different depending on the wishes of the family or of the deceased. Remember to dress conservatively, speak softly and don't draw attention to yourself. These are things that will help show respect and encourage your friend or family. For more information about what to expect at a viewing, contact a company like Serenity Funeral Service in Edmonton.