Author Topic: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned  (Read 8007 times)

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Iris

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Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« on: March 01, 2013, 01:52:49 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.
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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2013, 02:30:04 AM »



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

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2013, 02:48:19 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. :(




kglory

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2013, 03:34:39 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.

blue2000

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2013, 04:47:15 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.
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Margo

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2013, 05:26:56 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.

sparksals

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2013, 05:35:56 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. 

Ceallach

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2013, 05:54:43 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". 
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Gyburc

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2013, 06:53:52 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.
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Redsoil

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2013, 07:21:27 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. 
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*inviteseller

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2013, 07:25:05 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 :( )

MariaE

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2013, 07:36:33 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.
 
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Twik

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2013, 08:08:04 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.
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Sharnita

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2013, 08:22:05 AM »
It is quite common to have open caskets around here but that is not something you would ask.

lowspark

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Re: Announcing "I want to see her body" - Death mentioned
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2013, 08:49:20 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.