Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Iris on March 01, 2013, 12:52:49 AM

Title: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Iris on March 01, 2013, 12:52:49 AM
Recently a dear old family friend and neighbour passed away very unexpectedly. Her husband and (grown) children were understandably completely devastated and in shock - her husband in particular. One thing happened that particularly upset one of her sons and I thought I'd bring it here to get some thoughts and perspectives.

Due to her husband's extreme distress it fell to the sons to organise the funeral etc. One son was telling us that he was pretty upset one day because a lady who had belonged to one of his mother's clubs had rung up, offered her condolences and then announced "We want to see her". He was somewhat taken aback so she repeated "We want to see her to say goodbye." He said he really didn't know how he responded but essentially told her it wouldn't be possible and got off the phone. A few things that might be relevant - 1. in my life I've never ever known anyone to have an open casket or a 'viewing', it's not really done in our culture and 2. I don't know how to say this, but the way she died was quite awful and would not lend itself to a 'viewing'.

My own thought was that even in cultures where viewing is commonplace surely the family's wishes are tantamount. And isn't it something you would respectfully ASK, not just announce? Even knowing how common viewing is in some countries I thought it was badly handled, and her (and my) family were frankly horrified.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: JonGirl on March 01, 2013, 01:30:04 AM



"Remember her how she was, not how she is" is all I can come up with.  :-\
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: DottyG on March 01, 2013, 01:48:19 AM
I've been to open casket funerals. So it's not an unusual thing for me to see. However, it is the family's wishes that override ALL others. And there is consideration given when it's not appropriate to view the body - such as what you describe.

That lady was waaaaay out of line. And hurtful to a grieving family. Shame on her.  :(


I'm sorry for your loss, Iris. :(



Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: kglory on March 01, 2013, 02:34:39 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss :(

I think funerals can bring out the best of people, and also the worst.  Last year I lost a beloved relative, and at the shiva (the memorial service) a friend of a guest -- who I had never met before -- came up to me and started grilling me:  How exactly did he die?  What were the details of death?  Who was going to inherit the house?  Was I?  Why not? What is the house worth?

Of course, if some stranger started questioning me like this now, I would have no problem telling them to get lost, but at the time I was in so much grief that I could only try to politely deflect.

So, ugh.  99% of people are probably very well meaning, and then the few idiots like the lady you know, and the lady at my relative's shiva, just go and make it so much worse.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: blue2000 on March 01, 2013, 03:47:15 AM
Oh dear. :( My condolences to you and her family.


Around here, where viewing is common, the family would schedule it and make an announcement. You wait for the official announcement and you go with everyone else. You don't get to waltz in whenever you want for a private look-see unless you are the immediate family or next of kin.

So her wanting to see the body to say goodbye is not a big deal in some places. Insisting on a viewing when she already knows the family isn't going to have one? Very odd and rude. And if the son was already upset because he could not say his own goodbyes due to the circumstances of her death, that would feel like a slap in the face.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Margo on March 01, 2013, 04:26:56 AM
It sounds as though te lady was rude in how she asked, but it isn't a rude request in itself, and unless I am missing something in the OP, at the time this person made the request, she would not necessarily have known that it wasn't possible.

It's not usual where I live to have an open casket or a formal viewing/visitation but it'soften possible for people to visit the funeral home to say goodbye if they wish.

of course the lady should have asked whether it was possible, rather than framing it as "I want" but it's the tone which is rude, not the request.

Of course the family's wishes are paramount, but it doesn't sound as though the lady would have had any way of knowing what the families wishes were, in advance of asking.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: sparksals on March 01, 2013, 04:35:56 AM
This is the type of thing one doesn't ask.  It puts the family in a very awkward position in their time of grief.   The woman was horribly inconsiderate and self absorbed to demand to see the body.  It showed no compassion for the family. 
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Ceallach on March 01, 2013, 04:54:43 AM
My family always have open caskets, but I would never assume or ask!

I think all one can say is "I'm afraid that won't be possible". 
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Gyburc on March 01, 2013, 05:53:52 AM
Oh wow.

I think that this is one of those questions that you don't ask, and especially not like that. In fact, the lady in the OP didn't even ask, she instructed the poor young man: 'We want to see her'.

I think that it might, just might, be acceptable to say something like 'Could you let us know if there is going to be a viewing? We would very much like to say goodbye to her in person.' That way, you are indicating both that you care, and also that the family's wishes are paramount.

(((Hugs))) to you and the family, Iris. I'm very sorry.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Redsoil on March 01, 2013, 06:21:27 AM
So sorry to hear of your loss, Iris.  I hope the lovely memories she leaves with you help a little, even though you're in shock now.

Margo,  Iris is an Aussie.  It is extraordinarily unusual for a "viewing" or "open casket" to be held in this country, so the lady would have known.  It's a very unusual thing to ask here.  No excuse. 
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: *inviteseller on March 01, 2013, 06:25:05 AM
It is the families choice (and in some cases funeral homes if the death was not pretty) and no one else can demand anything.  I know of a woman who had a closed casket for her mother and was being harassed by some cousins that it had to be open for them to see.  When their demand was turned down, they were caught at the funeral home between the visitations trying to open the casket.  That is so disrespectful.  The family needs to make it clear to the funeral home that under no circumstances will the casket be opened for anyone .   (Sorry I am a bit touchy because I am currently dealing with the sudden death of my former husband and the funeral planning :( )
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: MariaE on March 01, 2013, 06:36:33 AM
It sounds as though te lady was rude in how she asked, but it isn't a rude request in itself, and unless I am missing something in the OP, at the time this person made the request, she would not necessarily have known that it wasn't possible.

Except she didn't ask - she demanded.

If she had said, "Will you be having an open casket" or something similar, I'd agree with you. But plainly stating "We want to see her"? No.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Twik on March 01, 2013, 07:08:04 AM
It sounds as though te lady was rude in how she asked, but it isn't a rude request in itself, and unless I am missing something in the OP, at the time this person made the request, she would not necessarily have known that it wasn't possible.

It's not usual where I live to have an open casket or a formal viewing/visitation but it'soften possible for people to visit the funeral home to say goodbye if they wish.

of course the lady should have asked whether it was possible, rather than framing it as "I want" but it's the tone which is rude, not the request.

Of course the family's wishes are paramount, but it doesn't sound as though the lady would have had any way of knowing what the families wishes were, in advance of asking.

She would know what the family's wishes were by noting that they were not having an open casket.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Sharnita on March 01, 2013, 07:22:05 AM
It is quite common to have open caskets around here but that is not something you would ask.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: lowspark on March 01, 2013, 07:49:20 AM
I've only ever known one person who died who had a "viewing". And it was announced. Something like "Visitation will be at XYZ Funeral Home Tuesday 2-4 pm".

I think the polite thing would have been for these ladies to ask "will there be a viewing?" and if the answer was yes, ask for the details (time & place) and if the answer was no then move on to the next topic.

I think it's really sad that the sons had to take over the situation and can imagine that dealing with people like this might be even more difficult for them than for someone with more life experience.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on March 01, 2013, 08:09:26 AM
Anyone else reminded of Grandma Mazur?

I'm so sorry for the loss, and for her son. That has to be hard enough without having to field wildly inappropriate requests such as this one!!

My family always had open caskets for funerals and after having seen 3/4 grandparents laid out (I wasn't able to get home for one of them) I've come to realize that it really is better to remember them as they were, not as they are.

Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: squeakers on March 01, 2013, 08:42:40 AM

My family always had open caskets for funerals and after having seen 3/4 grandparents laid out (I wasn't able to get home for one of them) I've come to realize that it really is better to remember them as they were, not as they are.

I lost my father when I was 7.  My last memory of him was him lying peacefully in his coffin.. finally out of pain.  My parents had been divorced for years at that time so I had only seen him once that year: in the hospital about a month before he died.

I cherish that memory.  I have so few of him.

But.. I personally don't want an open casket.  I want to be cremated. I figure if people can't say good-bye to me before I go.. then they don't need to say good-bye when I am not there anymore. That and I am vain and want them to remember me with that fuzzy lens time gives people (I will always be Squeakers, the little 4 year old with big ears and a brain to match, to some of my siblings.)

So I agree that the lady demanding to see was being rude. If she was a close friend or relative.. she could ask but it feels wrong to go against what the family had decided on especially in a culture where viewings are not common.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Just Lori on March 01, 2013, 09:06:20 AM
"We will not be having an open casket.  Please respect our wishes."

I have attended plenty of open casket funerals, but my immediately family doesn't do them. This is definitely the family's decision, and it absolutely should be respected.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 01, 2013, 10:19:43 AM
Leaving aside the fact that she said twice what *she* wanted (which really was a demand to see the body) this is a situation in which the notion that "it's not rude to ask" does not apply.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: bopper on March 01, 2013, 11:22:03 AM
"We will be having a closed casket memorial/funeral/whatever on March 17 at 10:00 the XYZ funeral home."
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: DottyG on March 01, 2013, 11:27:45 AM
Quote
they were caught at the funeral home between the visitations trying to open the casket

My jaw just hit the desk.  Sadly, though, I'm not completely surprised having heard and seen some of the other things people do out there thinking that it's perfectly ok to do.

Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: bah12 on March 01, 2013, 11:37:07 AM
I think that the friend could have asked "Is there going to be a visitation/viewing?" and it would have been completely appropriate.  Saying "I want to see her" is not.

As for the response, "we're not having a viewing, the funeral will be on X day at Y location" is all that's necesary.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: LazyDaisy on March 01, 2013, 11:53:32 AM
Like weddings, funerals just seem to bring out the special snowflake in some people. I think her demand was very rude. It doesn't sound like she was even that close to the deceased or the family. I agree with LeveeWoman, this is a situation where it is rude to ask. She tried to make it all about her.

At my grandmothers funeral, we had a private viewing beforehand in a side room for immediate family only. There was a family prayer and to say a few private words, and my grandfather placed some mementos inside the casket with my grandmother. Then we closed the casket and escorted her as a family into the chapel for the general funeral. That was our goodbye.

At the funeral, guests did come up to the casket to place a flower on top or just spend a moment beside, but one lady actually tried to open it. Thankfully the casket lid was locked down. It was so shocking and disrespectful to us and the impression it gave was that her grief and wishes were so much more important than ours. As far as I know, she just went to the same church as my grandparents but wasn't a close friend or anything. I know it's not true, but if she had succeeded, it would have felt like she "undid" our goodbye.


I know it's a bit morbid, but there is/was (it hasn't been updated for a while it seems) an advice column called Ask Judy and another called thecheckoutline.org both by Judy Bachrach. It's like Dear Abby but all about end-of-life issues, the dying, deaths, funerals and what comes after http://www.obit-mag.com/viewmedia.php/prmMediaTypeID/297

edited to fix the web address
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: DottyG on March 01, 2013, 12:22:46 PM
Quote
but if she had succeeded, it would have felt like she "undid" our goodbye.

That makes total sense.  I can see how it would feel like that.

Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: JoyinVirginia on March 01, 2013, 01:16:47 PM
I live in eastern USA, protestant denomination. the wishes of the deceased,.if they had pre planned their funeral, take precedence. Otherwise up to the family. Many funerals I have been to have open casket at visitation and right before service. Some have closed casket. Some are cremation with an urn and photos of deceased at the front of the room. Sometimes very close friends or most people do think their wish to publicly grieve, or to have closure, should trump what the family or deceased wishes are.
The friend was very insensitive, esp knowing that in your area open caskets are rarely done.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: LibraryLady on March 01, 2013, 01:24:46 PM
I didn't even want to see my father in his casket, but mother grasped my arm and said let's go see daddy.  I kind of blurred my eyes  - my younger sister and I were at the hospital when dad died and I much much to the nth degree preferred to remember him as he was.

To this day, I do not or try not to see the deceased as they lay in the casket.  It is a shell of the person - their spirit is gone and memories are the best or photos.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: sparksals on March 01, 2013, 01:47:15 PM
I didn't even want to see my father in his casket, but mother grasped my arm and said let's go see daddy.  I kind of blurred my eyes  - my younger sister and I were at the hospital when dad died and I much much to the nth degree preferred to remember him as he was.

To this day, I do not or try not to see the deceased as they lay in the casket.  It is a shell of the person - their spirit is gone and memories are the best or photos.

Me neither.  I saw my grandmother in casket and my DH's best friend who died WAY too young and way too needlessly.  That is the last picture I have in my mind of both of them. 

This is why I refused to see my dad when he was in his casket prior to cremation.  My mom wanted to see him, but my sister and I both declined.  We prefer to remember him as he was. 

Such a personal decision for everyone.  Because of my memories of seeing DH's best friend, I will refrain from viewing the open casket for anyone from now on.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Hmmmmm on March 01, 2013, 01:56:24 PM
Open casket funerals or viewings prior to the funeral are very common in my area. And there are instances where a family will decide to not have a viewing or open casket but a close relative or friend might want the opportunity to say goodbye so would contact the family and ASK if they would be ok with them going by the funeral home to say goodbye privately.

I'm really hoping this woman's request was just a poorly communicated request and not a demand upon the family.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: BeagleMommy on March 01, 2013, 02:23:25 PM
In my area of NE Pennsylvania open caskets are very common.  It's become less so with people born after a certain time frame.  However, this lady was so far over the line that I'm not sure she could see the line with the Hubble space telescope.

The wishes of the deceased (if known) are paramount.  After that, the family gets to make the decision.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Margo on March 01, 2013, 02:29:48 PM
I think that the friend could have asked "Is there going to be a visitation/viewing?" and it would have been completely appropriate.  Saying "I want to see her" is not.

As for the response, "we're not having a viewing, the funeral will be on X day at Y location" is all that's necesary.
POD.
you said it much more concisely (and apparently much more clearly!) than I managed to.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on March 01, 2013, 02:34:28 PM
I've told DH I don't want a viewing. Since I prefer to be cremated anyway, I really don't see the need in the added expense to him of renting/buying a casket just for the sole purpose of a viewing.  My paternal grandparents were cremated but had a viewing and funeral mass prior to the cremation. Now as they were Catholic I don't know if they just couldn't get a priest to do the funeral mass unless their body was intact at the time, I dunno. 

Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: violinp on March 01, 2013, 02:52:30 PM
I've told DH I don't want a viewing. Since I prefer to be cremated anyway, I really don't see the need in the added expense to him of renting/buying a casket just for the sole purpose of a viewing.  My paternal grandparents were cremated but had a viewing and funeral mass prior to the cremation. Now as they were Catholic I don't know if they just couldn't get a priest to do the funeral mass unless their body was intact at the time, I dunno.

It used to be the case that cremations were considered "un - Christian" and thus they would not get a Christian funeral. Now, that has changed quite a bit - my minister grandfather plans to be cremated, for example.

To the OP: I cannot, for the life of me, imagine someone demanding to see a dead body. Asking if there will be a viewing, yes. But never demanding to see the body. That goes beyond the pale, and assumes that the deceased is in a condition to be viewed by the general public. I understand that some people feel they need that kind of closure, but there are times when that just is not possible, and those people, if they are not complete boors, will accept that.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: camlan on March 01, 2013, 02:54:22 PM
Trying to put this as delicately as possible, but given that the nature of the death wouldn't allow for an open casket, doesn't the "friend's" request sound awfully ghoulish? As if they wanted to see the injuries?

The norm in my area is open casket. The only times I've been to a funeral with a closed casket have been when the death was due to a traffic accident or combat injuries, when an open casket would simply not have been possible. That's the feeling I'm getting from the OP, and I would be really bothered by a "friend" who insisted on viewing the deceased.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: DollyPond on March 01, 2013, 02:56:03 PM
My boss died a few months ago.  He was very much beloved by all of us employees and I did not think (I knew) that I could not bear seeing his body in an open casket.  Fortunately, the family had him cremated and the visitation was just that - visiting with the family and reminiscing over photos and personal mementos.  It was very nice not to have to deal with a body.

One of my former co-workers who went to the visitation at an earlier time called and left a message at my house while I was at the later time visitation session.  She was wildly ranting about how "That was the strangest wake I've ever been to!  There was bo casket!  There was no body! How are we expected to say our goodbyes?????"  I guess she was planning to have a big drama production of wailing and crying because she was the most favorite employee?  ::) ::) ::) And that is something she would do.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on March 01, 2013, 02:58:57 PM
I've told DH I don't want a viewing. Since I prefer to be cremated anyway, I really don't see the need in the added expense to him of renting/buying a casket just for the sole purpose of a viewing.  My paternal grandparents were cremated but had a viewing and funeral mass prior to the cremation. Now as they were Catholic I don't know if they just couldn't get a priest to do the funeral mass unless their body was intact at the time, I dunno.

It used to be the case that cremations were considered "un - Christian" and thus they would not get a Christian funeral. Now, that has changed quite a bit - my minister grandfather plans to be cremated, for example.

I know the Eastern Orthodox church forbids it, as a friend's BIL was Greek Orthodox and was cremated by choice so their priest refused to do the funeral liturgy.  That was about 14 or so years ago but according to friend they still technically forbid it, or it's up to the parish priest. 
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Ms_Cellany on March 01, 2013, 03:02:01 PM
A family friend was beaten to death; he had to be identified by fingerprints. His family had a viewing, and we were met with a whispered warning, "They did the best they could."
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: violinp on March 01, 2013, 03:05:59 PM
Trying to put this as delicately as possible, but given that the nature of the death wouldn't allow for an open casket, doesn't the "friend's" request sound awfully ghoulish? As if they wanted to see the injuries?

The norm in my area is open casket. The only times I've been to a funeral with a closed casket have been when the death was due to a traffic accident or combat injuries, when an open casket would simply not have been possible. That's the feeling I'm getting from the OP, and I would be really bothered by a "friend" who insisted on viewing the deceased.

When my grandma died, her body was not discovered for a few days, and her body was in the state that a body normally would be, having not been preserved. Therefore, we did not have the casket open. Her own sisters had the unmitigated gall to ask my mom why the casket wasn't open, and my mom was forced to tell them the disgusting truth. They acted shocked, but later Dad told Mom, "I know they enjoyed hearing that stuff, especially about her." (Grandma and her sisters had a very contentious relationship, and, ironically, they were not speaking to each other over a fight about family burial plots)

So, yeah, I can believe even family pulling a stunt like that.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Sharnita on March 01, 2013, 03:57:59 PM
FWIW, my Grandparents were both cremated and then my parents' (but not grandparents') priest had memorial services for them.  We later took them "home" for burial in the the plots they had bought much earlier.  The priest had no issues with the fact that they hadn't themselves been part of his parish or that they were cremated but I think he was relieved that we had no desire to have an urn or anything at the memorial service. 

I do have an interesting story about people reacting to not seeing the deceased.  A few years ago a fellow teacher died in a tragic accident at the beginning of vacation.  Teacher's spouse opted for cremation (and in Michigan if you don't cremate in the first say or so they require embalming even if you will eventually cremate).  Any teacher has accident, dies, is cremated in a very short amount of time.  Because cremation allows more time for a service the spouse simply announced there would be a memorial service some time in the future.  Suddenly coworkers were speculating there had been foul play, that's why the cremation - why was spouse so afraid of letting people see deceased teacher? ::)  Frankly, I think people had been watching too many procedural cop shows.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Cami on March 01, 2013, 04:22:50 PM
When my grandmother died, we had a closed casket, which is our family's very firm custom. At her funeral, in walked two ladies who had lived in my grandmother's neighborhood before she had to go to assisted living. I recognized them immediately and equally quickly remembered my grandmother's distress that these two good friends of hers had never come to visit her even one time, even after she'd called repeatedly and asked them to visit. (My grandmother was perfectly lucid until she suddenly died of a heart attack, she was in assisted living to help manage a chronic condition.)

They walk up the coffin, then whisper to each other. A moment later, they turn around and approach us. "EXCUSE US! We want to see her."

Us: "We are having a closed casket."

Them: "But we want to see her."

Us: "We are having a closed casket."

Them: "Open it up so we can take a peek and say good bye."

Us: "We are having a closed casket."

Them: "But we want to see her!"

My aunt: "Then I guess you should have gone to visit her sometime in the last five years!"

Me: laughing silently.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 01, 2013, 04:31:20 PM
When my grandmother died, we had a closed casket, which is our family's very firm custom. At her funeral, in walked two ladies who had lived in my grandmother's neighborhood before she had to go to assisted living. I recognized them immediately and equally quickly remembered my grandmother's distress that these two good friends of hers had never come to visit her even one time, even after she'd called repeatedly and asked them to visit. (My grandmother was perfectly lucid until she suddenly died of a heart attack, she was in assisted living to help manage a chronic condition.)

They walk up the coffin, then whisper to each other. A moment later, they turn around and approach us. "EXCUSE US! We want to see her."

Us: "We are having a closed casket."

Them: "But we want to see her."

Us: "We are having a closed casket."

Them: "Open it up so we can take a peek and say good bye."

Us: "We are having a closed casket."

Them: "But we want to see her!"

My aunt: "Then I guess you should have gone to visit her sometime in the last five years!"

Me: laughing silently.

Good for your aunt!
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Iris on March 01, 2013, 05:49:31 PM
Thanks guys. I tend to be a 'give people the benefit of the doubt' person - probably part of my aversion to conflict. When they were talking about this I was trying to think "Well, maybe viewings are common where they come from" but even then the demanding tone seemed off, so I thought I'd bring it to you all.

For those who sent their well wishes, thank you. Her family is doing their best to get on with their lives, which is good to see. They managed to get her husband to counselling which did him a lot of good. My own loss and grief are nothing compared to her family's and even other members of my own family who saw her daily and shared everything with her, so at this stage my role is supporting them. I will say etiquette hell really helped in that I was able to see more clearly when things were really NOT about me, but rather about others who needed me, and when it was okay to let go a bit.

It also helped me in that I didn't get up and brain the woman who carried on a loud conversation, including laughing loudly at her own funny anecdote, right up the front of the large church as the grieving family were escorted in for the funeral.  :-\ Although if looks could kill I would have seen a LOT of people commit murder right then...
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Starchasm on March 01, 2013, 11:27:42 PM
Good grief.  Open casket funerals are very common here, but it would still be unimaginably rude to try to strongarm grieving family into letting you dictate the type of funeral they would have!

Anyone else reminded of Grandma Mazur?

SO GLAD it's not just me!!!
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: kherbert05 on March 02, 2013, 06:26:56 AM
The woman was out of line. The fact that this death as probably in the news due to the accident makes her more of a ghoul in my book.


Only close family has leeway to ask for a viewing. My parents hated viewing and Dad's sister was of the same mind set. Mom siblings needed to see her. It is the norm in their culture, and due to having to book international flights were unable to get down here after she took a turn for the worse. So we arranged for a private viewing for them. They understood that sis and I did not want to be a part of that (especially knowing how Mom HATED viewings).
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on March 02, 2013, 07:45:31 AM
Good grief.  Open casket funerals are very common here, but it would still be unimaginably rude to try to strongarm grieving family into letting you dictate the type of funeral they would have!

Anyone else reminded of Grandma Mazur?

SO GLAD it's not just me!!!

LOL! And I'm so glad you said that! :)  Especially when someone mentioned a guest trying to pry off the lid.  It's funny when a fictional character like Grandma Mazur tries that sort of thing.  Not so much in real life!
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Two Ravens on March 02, 2013, 12:41:45 PM
I've told DH I don't want a viewing. Since I prefer to be cremated anyway, I really don't see the need in the added expense to him of renting/buying a casket just for the sole purpose of a viewing.  My paternal grandparents were cremated but had a viewing and funeral mass prior to the cremation. Now as they were Catholic I don't know if they just couldn't get a priest to do the funeral mass unless their body was intact at the time, I dunno.

As of 1997, the RCC allows for cremated remains to be present at a funeral mass. It was not allowed before this.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: AngelBarchild on March 02, 2013, 07:44:56 PM
I've never been to a viewing at a funeral home, my family is very Irish Catholic. The deceased (casket)  is taken to the home of one of the family members, and placed in a side room. Then everyone comes over and visits. Sometimes it's open casket sometimes it's not. There's usually a lot of drinking, remembering, funny stories, and it's a requirement that someone (or more than one) make an bacon-fed knave out of themselves.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on March 02, 2013, 08:05:26 PM
I've told DH I don't want a viewing. Since I prefer to be cremated anyway, I really don't see the need in the added expense to him of renting/buying a casket just for the sole purpose of a viewing.  My paternal grandparents were cremated but had a viewing and funeral mass prior to the cremation. Now as they were Catholic I don't know if they just couldn't get a priest to do the funeral mass unless their body was intact at the time, I dunno.

As of 1997, the RCC allows for cremated remains to be present at a funeral mass. It was not allowed before this.

Hmm.  My grandparents died in 2004 and 2008 respectively so I guess it was just their preference then.

I've never been to a viewing at a funeral home, my family is very Irish Catholic. The deceased (casket)  is taken to the home of one of the family members, and placed in a side room. Then everyone comes over and visits. Sometimes it's open casket sometimes it's not. There's usually a lot of drinking, remembering, funny stories, and it's a requirement that someone (or more than one) make an bacon-fed knave out of themselves.

Ha, that sounds like what happened after my maternal grandmother's family, though she was of Italian descent.  Well she did have a viewing at the church rather than a funeral home but after the reception we had a wake back at her house and my mother and sisters got VERY sauced and broke one of the beds jumping on it.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: kareng57 on March 02, 2013, 08:57:57 PM
I've told DH I don't want a viewing. Since I prefer to be cremated anyway, I really don't see the need in the added expense to him of renting/buying a casket just for the sole purpose of a viewing.  My paternal grandparents were cremated but had a viewing and funeral mass prior to the cremation. Now as they were Catholic I don't know if they just couldn't get a priest to do the funeral mass unless their body was intact at the time, I dunno.

As of 1997, the RCC allows for cremated remains to be present at a funeral mass. It was not allowed before this.

Hmm.  My grandparents died in 2004 and 2008 respectively so I guess it was just their preference then.

I've never been to a viewing at a funeral home, my family is very Irish Catholic. The deceased (casket)  is taken to the home of one of the family members, and placed in a side room. Then everyone comes over and visits. Sometimes it's open casket sometimes it's not. There's usually a lot of drinking, remembering, funny stories, and it's a requirement that someone (or more than one) make an bacon-fed knave out of themselves.

Ha, that sounds like what happened after my maternal grandmother's family, though she was of Italian descent.  Well she did have a viewing at the church rather than a funeral home but after the reception we had a wake back at her house and my mother and sisters got VERY sauced and broke one of the beds jumping on it.


Re cremations - it could be either.  I've gotten the impression (through friends) that RCC priests might have their own strong personal preferences about issues like this.  I don't want to say anymore, I don't want to get the thread locked.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Marbles on March 02, 2013, 09:28:24 PM
Even within families this can be contentious. My MIL and her sister haven't spoken since their father's funeral ~40 years ago. Apparently Sis wanted to see the body and MIL was against it. I'm sure there is more to it, but that's the story that was given to my DH.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Just Lori on March 11, 2013, 10:09:29 AM
My neighbor's MIL died and he and his family flew across the country for the funeral.  The deceased woman's sister was quite a character and has no issues with death.  In fact, during the viewing she stood by the casket and quite loudly told her daughter that she didn't want that shade of lipstick when she was in the casket; she wanted her own signature shade.

Then Auntie decided her sister needed to be buried wearing her favorite scent, which Auntie just happened to carry in her purse.  Auntie pulled it out and sprayed it liberally on her sister.  All was fine, until Auntie dropped the perfume.  In the casket.  Where it promptly rolled under the body.

Well, Auntie might have been generous with a few spritzes of perfume, but she wasn't going to let the whole bottle go down with her sister.  She began reaching underneath the body, trying to find the lost bottle.  Other attendees watched in horror or, perhaps more likely, left the room so they could laugh in private.

These are the types of stories that get repeated for generations.  It is my sincere hope that when Auntie dies, she will be wearing the correct shade of lipstick and clutching her perfume bottle in her hand.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Twik on March 11, 2013, 10:56:11 AM
I ... I really don't think I'd want to use perfume after I'd fished it out of an occupied casket.  :-\
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on March 11, 2013, 11:04:23 AM
My neighbor's MIL died and he and his family flew across the country for the funeral.  The deceased woman's sister was quite a character and has no issues with death.  In fact, during the viewing she stood by the casket and quite loudly told her daughter that she didn't want that shade of lipstick when she was in the casket; she wanted her own signature shade.

Then Auntie decided her sister needed to be buried wearing her favorite scent, which Auntie just happened to carry in her purse.  Auntie pulled it out and sprayed it liberally on her sister.  All was fine, until Auntie dropped the perfume.  In the casket.  Where it promptly rolled under the body.

Well, Auntie might have been generous with a few spritzes of perfume, but she wasn't going to let the whole bottle go down with her sister.  She began reaching underneath the body, trying to find the lost bottle.  Other attendees watched in horror or, perhaps more likely, left the room so they could laugh in private.

These are the types of stories that get repeated for generations.  It is my sincere hope that when Auntie dies, she will be wearing the correct shade of lipstick and clutching her perfume bottle in her hand.

Is it wrong that I laughed??  Yeah, that will go down in family infamy I'm sure!  I don't know, if my favorite perfume fell into a casket, I'd honestly be reluctant to let it go 6 feet under, but on the other hand, I wouldn't be spraying it on a corpse, either, so there ya go.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: lowspark on March 11, 2013, 11:52:14 AM
That's hilarious! Sounds like something in a movie. Reminds me of "Death at a Funeral".
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Midge on March 11, 2013, 02:42:21 PM

My family always had open caskets for funerals and after having seen 3/4 grandparents laid out (I wasn't able to get home for one of them) I've come to realize that it really is better to remember them as they were, not as they are.

I lost my father when I was 7.  My last memory of him was him lying peacefully in his coffin.. finally out of pain.  My parents had been divorced for years at that time so I had only seen him once that year: in the hospital about a month before he died.



POD

I'm all for personal preferences and sensitivities, but I do have a problem with the sentiment of "Nobody wants their last memories of someone to be of him/her lying in a coffin FULL STOP."

My dad died when I was quite a bit older than 7, but he still died too young. And his death was long and painful. When his was in his coffin I saw no more pain or fear on his face. He had lost soo much weight, but the funeral home was run by family friends and they managed to make him look a little more filled out and more like himself.

If we hadn't had an open casket, my last memory of him would have been of him writhing in pain in a hospital bed.

But as to the OP: rude, rude, rude. The deceased's wishes come first, then the family's. And there's nothing wrong with a closed casket.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: ladyknight1 on March 11, 2013, 09:07:05 PM
When my husband's aunt lost her battle with intestinal cancer, my MIL had an open casket for her sister. MIL then chided anyone who looked in the casket, and closed it. I thought it was so bizarre, as open casket funerals are not done in my family tradition.

I wanted to add that my last few services have been memorials, as the people had donated their bodies to science. Just a picture of the deceased, and people could mourn as they wished.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Elfmama on March 11, 2013, 09:24:16 PM
I didn't even want to see my father in his casket, but mother grasped my arm and said let's go see daddy.  I kind of blurred my eyes  - my younger sister and I were at the hospital when dad died and I much much to the nth degree preferred to remember him as he was.

To this day, I do not or try not to see the deceased as they lay in the casket.  It is a shell of the person - their spirit is gone and memories are the best or photos.

Me neither.  I saw my grandmother in casket and my DH's best friend who died WAY too young and way too needlessly.  That is the last picture I have in my mind of both of them. 

This is why I refused to see my dad when he was in his casket prior to cremation.  My mom wanted to see him, but my sister and I both declined.  We prefer to remember him as he was. 

Such a personal decision for everyone.  Because of my memories of seeing DH's best friend, I will refrain from viewing the open casket for anyone from now on.
Me too.  I'm always glad I didn't see my favorite uncle in his casket; I much preferred the photograph of him sitting in his truck with a beer. 

A certain vile relative, however, I was not at all displeased to see.  I wanted to make sure the person was really dead.  (In deference to the person's children, I did not bring a wooden stake and a mallet, but I was sooooooo tempted....)
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Elfmama on March 11, 2013, 09:27:32 PM
Trying to put this as delicately as possible, but given that the nature of the death wouldn't allow for an open casket, doesn't the "friend's" request sound awfully ghoulish? As if they wanted to see the injuries?
Yes, it does.  Brrrrr. 
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Iris on March 11, 2013, 11:44:46 PM
Trying to put this as delicately as possible, but given that the nature of the death wouldn't allow for an open casket, doesn't the "friend's" request sound awfully ghoulish? As if they wanted to see the injuries?
Yes, it does.  Brrrrr.

OP here. I don't know how to put this without giving too many specifics, but feelings ran high about the events and people surrounding the events. It crossed my mind, although I didn't mention it to anyone, that they might have wanted to look for 'evidence' of some kind. I should point out that I have no basis for that thought whatsoever, other than their insistence.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Moonie on March 12, 2013, 04:37:51 PM
Quote
they were caught at the funeral home between the visitations trying to open the casket

My jaw just hit the desk.  Sadly, though, I'm not completely surprised having heard and seen some of the other things people do out there thinking that it's perfectly ok to do.

At my father's funeral, his daughter from a previous marriage asked my mother if she could take pictures of him in his casket. My mother said, "Absolutely NOT!" Before the procession to the grave site, the family was allowed one last "goodbye". All of us were on our way to our cars when my brother caught the half sister's husband up by the casket with a camera. We never got the camera away from them, but I'm sure she had him take pictures. There were words said after the funeral. I am sure my father would have been mortified if he knew what they did.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: hobish on March 12, 2013, 05:09:06 PM
I've told DH I don't want a viewing. Since I prefer to be cremated anyway, I really don't see the need in the added expense to him of renting/buying a casket just for the sole purpose of a viewing.  My paternal grandparents were cremated but had a viewing and funeral mass prior to the cremation. Now as they were Catholic I don't know if they just couldn't get a priest to do the funeral mass unless their body was intact at the time, I dunno.

As of 1997, the RCC allows for cremated remains to be present at a funeral mass. It was not allowed before this.

Hmm.  My grandparents died in 2004 and 2008 respectively so I guess it was just their preference then.

I've never been to a viewing at a funeral home, my family is very Irish Catholic. The deceased (casket)  is taken to the home of one of the family members, and placed in a side room. Then everyone comes over and visits. Sometimes it's open casket sometimes it's not. There's usually a lot of drinking, remembering, funny stories, and it's a requirement that someone (or more than one) make an bacon-fed knave out of themselves.

Ha, that sounds like what happened after my maternal grandmother's family, though she was of Italian descent.  Well she did have a viewing at the church rather than a funeral home but after the reception we had a wake back at her house and my mother and sisters got VERY sauced and broke one of the beds jumping on it.


I remember you saying that before, Piratelvr, and i swear i can visualize that going on in my family. Funerals and wakes, especially on my mom's side, are crazy. Usually, they are open coffin; but of course it depends on the circumstances. Someone taking pictures might be unusual, but not unheard of.

That said, i don't know what the woman in the OP was thinking. I hope, as previous posters suggestd, it was just a really bad way of making a request.

(((Iris))) 


...sorry...i tried to trim the quote tree down and messed it all up, so i am just using the whole thing.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Bottlecaps on March 20, 2013, 03:54:12 PM
Whoa, that lady was way out of line. Now, all the funerals/viewings I've ever been to were open-casket, so it's something to which I'm accustomed. However, not everyone wishes to have an open-casket funeral, and it's certainly not up to anyone outside of the family to demand that they get to see the body. I agree with lowspark - the proper thing for this lady to do would have been to ask if there would be a viewing or memorial service before the funeral itself. If yes, politely ask for details of the time, date, and place. If no, move it on along, nothing to see here folks (no pun intended, I swear). I know that when I keel over, I wouldn't mind if my family chose to have a viewing for me (unless my body were mangled beyond even the best mortician's repair & cosmetic skill-level), but I would roll over in my grave if someone demanded to Mr. Bottlecaps or any children that we may have someday to see my body without even going the polite route of asking if there would even be a viewing/wake or anything of that nature.

All that said, my condolences on the passing of your friend. :(
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Calistoga on March 20, 2013, 05:32:52 PM
If the woman were smart and tactful, she would have instead asked if the family would be having a viewing. If they say no, move on. If they say yes, you can then say "That's lovely, we'd like to attend, let us know when that will be." You never ever ever announce your desire to see a dead person to a grieving family member.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: PastryGoddess on March 20, 2013, 08:02:52 PM
Quote
they were caught at the funeral home between the visitations trying to open the casket

My jaw just hit the desk.  Sadly, though, I'm not completely surprised having heard and seen some of the other things people do out there thinking that it's perfectly ok to do.

At my father's funeral, his daughter from a previous marriage asked my mother if she could take pictures of him in his casket. My mother said, "Absolutely NOT!" Before the procession to the grave site, the family was allowed one last "goodbye". All of us were on our way to our cars when my brother caught the half sister's husband up by the casket with a camera. We never got the camera away from them, but I'm sure she had him take pictures. There were words said after the funeral. I am sure my father would have been mortified if he knew what they did.

In my family we usually have about an hour for just family, since our family is huge and then another hour or so for friends and aquaintances to visit Certain members of my family take pictures, but during the family only portion.  I've never seen an friend or acquaintance ask to take pictures of our family members

I think it's weird and don't like to be around. But I won't begrudge other for doing it if it helps them to grieve. 
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: gramma dishes on March 20, 2013, 09:11:34 PM
When my Grandfather died (he was either 99 or 100, not sure which) I lived many hours away and was unable to attend his funeral.

Imagine my shock when a few weeks after the event I received a post card with a picture of him in his casket.  In the "message" part of the post card, it just gave the dates of his birth and death and the location where the funeral had taken place.

Apparently several of my cousins and my brother and sister all got them, so I was at least not the only recipient.  It was horrifying to me to even think that any of our relatives would do something like that.  It just seemed to be the epitome of bad taste! 

I mentioned it to my Mother and she said that she had no idea that was going to happen but that she had been informed by other shocked relatives who'd received them.  She assured me that she and all her brothers and sisters claimed they had not been consulted. 

Apparently taking a picture of the deceased in their coffin was a part of the package 'service' offered by the funeral home.  To this day, no relative has ever confessed to being the one who actually ordered the postcards, then addressed and mailed them.
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: Twik on March 21, 2013, 09:46:17 AM
If it were a "package deal," and that particular service was overlooked when it was booked, I can see that maybe no one in the family *did* order the cards. The picture might have been taken by the staff of the home, and sent to the addresses of relatives on file.

It might have been included under some obscure name in the contract, like, "postal memorialization".
Title: Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
Post by: gramma dishes on March 21, 2013, 10:11:44 AM
If it were a "package deal," and that particular service was overlooked when it was booked, I can see that maybe no one in the family *did* order the cards. The picture might have been taken by the staff of the home, and sent to the addresses of relatives on file.

It might have been included under some obscure name in the contract, like, "postal memorialization".

But someone addressed them, stamped them and mailed them!  The funeral home would have had no access to all our names and addresses unless they had been supplied by a relative.  Yet unanimously they all swear they didn't do it!