Is Viewing the Deceased Necessary?

Most people have heard the old saying, “Seeing is believing.” But many people also have lived through a life experience that gave them a deep, emotional understanding of this simple phrase.

Consider what happens when parents receive a phone call from their child’s school, informing them that their child hurt themselves on the playground. The caller says that the child is OK. But they’ll spend the rest of their workday counting the minutes, waiting to see their child, because seeing is believing.

Consider what happened to our entire society when the planes flew into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Within minutes of hearing the news, people watched the event replayed on television over and over again.

They have estimated that more than 90% of Americans saw the videos that first day. Many people had the TV on all day, trying to grasp the magnitude of the moment, trying to come to grips with the trauma, because seeing is believing.

The burning desire to see is the natural human response to any traumatic event. Witnessing the event, or seeing the aftermath, makes the traumatic event real. It’s already real on an intellectual level once we hear the news, but to make it real on an emotional level, we must see for ourselves.

A common point of debate in our culture today is whether or not there should be a public viewing of the body after the death of a loved one. Some people think that viewing the deceased makes it even harder for the family. In fact, viewing the body can play a vital role in moving a person through the experience of grief in a healthy way.

If someone you care about passes away, you can never avoid grief; you can only move through it. Seeing the remains of a loved one is an undeniable confirmation of the death.

Witnessing the final disposition of the body is also critically important because it brings closure to the traumatic event. Whether it is the lowering of a casket into a grave or the scattering of cremated remains, experiencing the farewell ceremony provides a powerful moment of closure.

Some people who are preplanning their funerals assume they are making it easier for their family by requesting no viewing of their remains. Sadly, they are making it harder for their family and friends.

Allowing their body to be present is the last meaningful gift they can give to their loved ones. Their soul has departed, but their earthly body will help those who remain to accept the loss and begin their journey through the natural grief process toward emotional healing.

Seeing is believing.

And believing leads to emotional healing.

We are available 24 hours if you need us. Just call (563) 652-2444, and one of our team members will be glad to help.

If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, please take advantage of our free Hope After Heartache email series. It will provide you with messages that are inspiring, reflective and informative as you deal with your grief and healing.