Going to see the body, did you regret it? What's it like?

(45 Posts)
Shutupanddrive Mon 04-Mar-13 22:35:05

My DPs brother has been found dead, suspected suicide. He wants to go and see him to say goodbye, but is not sure it it's the right thing to do. Personally I wouldn't, I would not like to have that last image in my mind. Any advice appreciated thankyou sad

Snazzynewyear Mon 04-Mar-13 22:38:52

This is such a difficult decision. I was both with my grandmother when she died and also went to see her body afterwards. It definitely helped to see that she was really gone although in some ways I found seeing her later harder than actually saying goodbye at the time of her death. But for your DP, since he has only got this news as a shock, it might be something he feels he needs to do - if he doesn't do it there is no going back later. I don't think there is a definitive 'right answer' but I can understand your DP's wish to do this.

FranKatzenjammer Mon 04-Mar-13 22:41:13

I have been twice to see grandparents' bodies and both times I found it extremely distressing. I don't think I will do it again. However it did help me, both times, to accept that the person was really dead. I'm very sorry for your husband's loss.

Shutupanddrive Mon 04-Mar-13 22:41:55

We were at a wedding when we found out, Dp was best man and we had to leave in the middle of dinner. They suspect he may have been dead for up to a week, he lived alone.

Shutupanddrive Mon 04-Mar-13 22:44:06

Thankyou for replies, I guess it is up to Dp if he wants to go, I'm just worried that he may regret seeing him like that

FranKatzenjammer Mon 04-Mar-13 22:45:22

Oh, that's awful OP.

AllBellyandBoobs Mon 04-Mar-13 22:46:34

I went to see my Dad after he died suddenly, it was the right thing for me and I was able to say goodbye and tell him I loved him. He looked different, what had made him alive and 'him' had gone and I suppose I always have that image in my mind but it doesn't disturb or distress me because I have a million other images and memories of him. I have no regrets and am glad I had the opportunity to say the things I would have said had I been with him.

Bluelightsandsirens Mon 04-Mar-13 22:47:54

It really does have to be your Dps decision.

Not something I would want to do especially in the circumstances described but not something you can advise on sadly.

FattyMcChubster Mon 04-Mar-13 22:48:48

I have in the past and it helped but the body had been prepared for the funeral and resembled the person, no injuries etc. My DP has had to see a relative after being one of the first on the scene and seeing paramedics work on them. I'm not sure he would go through that again(given the choice). If it was a week since he was found in guessing it will be especially traumatic for your DP to see him? Would he benefit in any way from it?

LadyDamerel Mon 04-Mar-13 22:50:25

I'm so sorry you're going through this too. It's an almost impossible decision to make because it's so emotive and horrible and you can only make the decision that feels right to you at the time.

When BIL died very suddenly and unexpectedly we all went to see him because it was the only way we could actually accept it had happened, iyswim. The undertakers were a little hesitant because he'd been dead for several hours before he was found so his body (face in particular) wasn't in perfect condition but we felt we had to.

I think your DP will probably be in a similar place; it has come so out of the blue that he may need to see his body so he knows for absolutely for certain that it is his brother and he is dead, there hasn't been some kind of bizarre mistake made.

It is hard and DH did struggle for a long time to remember BIL as he was when he was alive, rather than how he looked in the undertakers but he can now.

I hope you manage to make a decision that you feel at peace with.

QueenOfCats Mon 04-Mar-13 22:50:54

I saw my Dad 3 days after he died, I really wish I hadn't.

I saw my lovely gran half an hour after she died and it was fine, just like she was sleeping. I then saw her again 4 days later and again, I wish I hadn't.

When I saw my dad and my gran (for the second time) it's was really strange. They didn't look like them. They had been embalmed, their faces looked kind of, slightly melted. Sagging down at the sides, but at the same time firm. And there was an unpleasant odour too.

I wouldn't do it again I don't think, but if your DH wants to say goodbye and feels that seeing his DB will bring him closure then that's up to him. Prepare him before he goes though. That image will stick with him for a long time.

So sorry for your family's loss x

Hassled Mon 04-Mar-13 22:50:58

I saw my father after he'd died - and while it was truly awful it was the bizarre confirmation I needed that he really was dead (like your BIL, a sudden death). It was a sort of closure - one I didn't have after my mother died and with the benefit of hindsight, probably would have helped in my coming to terms with her death. It is all very weird - the person you knew so clearly isn't there anymore, but I do think it's useful to see/know that for yourself.

Shutupanddrive Mon 04-Mar-13 22:52:09

Thankyou allbelly that's what I needed to hear, sorry about your dad sad . I guess it's not up to me and he seems pretty sure that he is going (with his two other brothers) so I will just have to try and be there for him as much as I can

deemented Mon 04-Mar-13 22:52:19

Oh thats awful, i'm so sorry for your loss sad

Given that his brother may have been dead for so long, i wouldn't advise it - mainly because he's unlikely to look very much like himself after so long. But saying that - it's his brother and he may need to see him to see for himself that he's really gone, iyswim. It's so hard though. Does he feels like he has to see him, or does he feel like he should see him? Theres a huge difference.

Just a thought - would you feel up to seeing him yourself? Maybe it's something you could do for your DH? That way you can tell him how he honestly looks and he can then make a decision wether to see him or not.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Mon 04-Mar-13 22:53:56

I'm not so sure I'd go. A body that has been embalmed and has been laid out would be one thing after a week but a body that has lain undiscovered would be quite another. The funeral home will be able to offer you advice on whether they would recommend your DH visiting his brother.

Owllady Mon 04-Mar-13 22:57:31

Has he asked what it will be like and how he committed suicide etc?

I saw my sister and it was weird because they had dressed her in a weird gown and tbh she would have been horrified as she was only 21 hmm and she looked like a victorian but I am glad I saw her as I picked her some nice clothes to be buried in
but everyone is different

dothraki Mon 04-Mar-13 22:58:43

My fil died suddenly and it was a tremendous comfort to see him, he looked so calm and peaceful - that was the right decision for us at that time. A relative went to see their friend after a dreadful accident - and this was the wrong thing to do. They can't get that dreadful image out of their head. All you can do is just be there x

Shutupanddrive Mon 04-Mar-13 22:59:16

Thankyou for all the advice, Dp seems pretty certain and I don't want to push the issue any more, so I will let him get own with it. I'm sure all the things I'm thinking are in his head too, I feel sick. He hasn't seen is brother for a while and they were close as children but not so much lately. They think he took an overdose

Sunnywithshowers Mon 04-Mar-13 23:05:21

I'm so sorry OP. I went to see my friend as she committed suicide and I needed 'proof' to really take it in.

I thought it would freak me out but it really didn't. She smelled 'different' and was really cold, but was recognisably 'her'. I was able to talk to her and say my goodbyes. I am hugely glad I went.

BabsAndTheRu Mon 04-Mar-13 23:08:49

We were with my dad when he died and we also went to see him at the funeral parlour. It really helped to get it into my head that he was gone, I found it so hard to take in at first. My mum had a poem to put in with him and I had a photo of him and DS1, commonly known in the family as the flat caps photo. DS just a wee tot sitting next to his Grampa both wearing their flat caps. My dad always had a thing about warm wooly socks and I gave a pair to the undertaker. I had this need in me to make sure he had them on and wouldn't be cold, I know it sounds ridiculous but was a real comfort to me. Let your DP go with his instincts, if he wants to go let him, its part of the grieving process to accept he's gone, otherwise it just feels like they're away somewhere and will be coming back at some point. Sending my love to you and yours.

The first person I went to see was my grandad - I had not seen him for a long time sad (different countries). I'm glad I did that, it helped somehow. BUT, it struck me how strangely different, yet the same, he looked. Sorry, not very coherent.

About a month later, my grandma over here died. I'd seen her the evening before, but I went to see her still. Because I'd been to see my granddad, it seemed like the 'thing I now do'. I am glad I went to say goodbye to her too. Again, she looked like grandma, but it wasn't her.

I was with my other grandfather when he died last year. I went to see him at the funeral home too. Strangely, I found it difficult and barely stayed on there. I think it might be because I was with him while he died, it somehow wasn't necessary this time?

It's a difficult decision, but I am inclined to think if he wants to go then he probably should. He may regret it if he doesn't. Sorry that you're all having to go through this.

LittlePushka Mon 04-Mar-13 23:15:06

Over the years I have seen many dead folk, all of whom I knew in life. Some have looked really peaceful and very beautiful, some have been shockingly unrecognisable. Very few looked like they did in life, and without exception all were very cold and very hard to the touch. I sometimes have advised relatives or friends that the person does look very different so that their expectation is realistic.

I have not (and will not ever) chose to see any of my own close relatives or friends in rest. Not because the image might endure...(I always recall my clients as they were in life...) but because immediately after death is a very raw point in the grieving process, and for me personally, the death of someone you loved deeply is real enough without it having it endorsed by a physical presentation of that death.

It is an really important question you raise, but I think the answer will be different for each one of your family and for very different and valid reasons.

Wishing you and your family well.

chipmonkey Mon 04-Mar-13 23:32:32

Here in Ireland, it's the done thing for the family to have the dead person in the house where they lived, not in the main living room but in a bedroom or dining room. People come to the house, socialise in the main living area but go to "see" the dead person as well.
I think it does help to confirm that the person has died but it can be upsetting when they don't look like "themselves" My Dad was laid out in a nice suit etc and one of our friends said "F really didn't look like himself. His hair was too neat. Whenever I saw F, his hair was always tossed!" We did laugh at that, it was so true!

My dd was like a little doll.sad She had been such an inquisitive, spirited baby, that I really knew she had gone.

I do know other people where their loved one's body had been damaged by an accident for example and they did find it upsetting, both the appearance of the body and also shock and upset at the manner of their death. So I would say that if the bereaved person feels deeply that they need to see their loved one for confirmation of death, just to be prepared that the image itself may be haunting.

So very sorry for you and your dp. It is a dreadful shock for you all. <<<HUGS>>>

1944girl Mon 04-Mar-13 23:50:49

I was with my mother when she died, and I stayed with her for an hour afterwards.I sat by her bed stroking her face and then left her.
I had the chance to view her body again at the undertakers but declined.I did not want to see her after she had been dead for a couple of days.
My niece took her own life, by hanging.The undertaker advised the family afterwards that was not advisable to view her body, she had had two post mortems.I went to say goodbye to her when she was in a closed coffin.
I am no stranger to seeing dead bodies, having been a nurse all my working life.It is my belief that the soul leaves the body at death so what you see is not the person you knew, just an empty case, as the body is just the covering for the soul.
I know that some people get alot of comfort seeing the dead body of a loved one.

dothraki Tue 05-Mar-13 00:01:21

Shutup - I also endorse what Babs said - taking things to leave in the coffin. It was so long ago with fil but - it was right - to leave momento's and very comforting for us. x

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