General Etiquette > Life...in general

Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned

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Iris:
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.

JonGirl:



"Remember her how she was, not how she is" is all I can come up with.  :-\

DottyG:
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. :(



kglory:
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.

blue2000:
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.

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