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

NomNomDePlum Wed 20-Mar-13 13:51:39

i mean seeing my father's body helped to ground the loss

NomNomDePlum Wed 20-Mar-13 13:50:21

i think it's a good idea generally to see the body - but i'm irish and the first dead person i saw was my grandfather when i was six, he was laid out in the front room of his house and there was a proper wake. i remember it very clearly, but not as something traumatic - i hadn't known him well, though.

i lost my father ten years ago and i think it really does help to ground the loss, as it were - the same year i lost an old friend and she was in a closed coffin (had died abroad) and i found that much harder to cope with, i think partially because it was unbelievable without properly witnessing it.

if some time has passed, though, it might be a much more traumatic thing to do, i suppose. in ireland, funerals almost without fail take place three days after the death.

SirChenjin Wed 20-Mar-13 13:35:55

I went to see my Grandfather in his coffin, and was very glad I had. He looked very peaceful, but really just a copy of him - he had obviously gone, and there was nothing left but the body. It really helped me to accept it and move on.

I was there when mum died last year, with my dad and my sister. She had gone into hospital for pain in her hip and it turned out she was riddled with cancer - as missed by an incompetent GP. She died a few days later. The hospital let us stay with her and sleep in the room, and we said lots of goodbyes, so although I saw her die I had no wish to go back to see her again in the funeral home. We chose a lovely nightie for her to wear and Dad took it in - he said she looked beautiful in it.

My cousin was killed in a push bike accident and we were all advised not to see him.

I would second others who have said to get advice from the funeral directors.

echt Wed 20-Mar-13 13:27:50

OP, it has to be the DP's call. Mostly better done that not, though the circumstances affect this, as has been noted upthread.

Dear dad... my first dead person, so full of trepidation. Couldn't get the smell of the funeral home out of my memory for yonks. HATED the vile turquoise shroud they stapelled into the fecking coffin, instead of his scruffy jumper. He looked like himself, but not so later.

Clothes are important.

Dear brother: ditto horrible white stapled shroud.

Dear mum: lovely homely clothes put on by thoughtful care home.

Goodtalkingtoo Tue 12-Mar-13 19:09:45

I saw my dad immediately after his death, it was fine, didn't really look like him but it was fine

I went to see my cousin after he had passed 3 weeks, he was prepared for funeral, it was awfull, I regret it.

Please get advice from the funeral director.

dothraki Thu 07-Mar-13 22:02:18

Shutup - it sounds like it is the right thing for him - and that is the key. Its good he is going with his brothers. Its clear he has your support which is so important at this time - my thoughts are with you at this awful time x

BabsAndTheRu Thu 07-Mar-13 21:38:33

Shutupanddrive

Hope all goes well for your DP and he finds some comfort and acceptance from his visit. You sound like a really loving and supportive partner for him. Take care all of you.

Shutupanddrive Thu 07-Mar-13 19:55:17

Thank you, I have read all the replies and found them very helpful. He is going with his other brothers, better than alone I think. Thankyou for the kind wishes, they have helped more than you know. We have had a heart to heart and he is sure he wants to do this

NotTreadingGrapes Thu 07-Mar-13 16:15:43

Make sure he knows what he is going to be faced with after a week. :-(

Sorry for your loss.

I went with my Mum to see my stepfather and she really really wishes the dick of a "bereavement counsellor" hadn't virtually forced her into it.

I've since visited a lot of Catholic houses (am in Italy) where it is totally normal, as Molly199 says, and somehow comforting.

Just support him in his decision I suppose. x

molly199 Thu 07-Mar-13 16:12:16

I'm sorry for your loss.

I don't see the problem with seeing the body. I'm from NI and our funerals seem to be different from the rest of the UK.

From the minute the person dies the undertaker takes them to be dressed, put in coffin, then a day later brought home. They open the lid and place the coffin in front of the living room window (all blinds closed, windows open).

And over 2 days relatives, friends will come say their goodbyes. The funeral will then leave from their. It has always happened this way, so I don't personally like the way the coffin is kept in an undertakers, as for example when my grandmother died we wanted her in her home where she would have wanted to be as is custom.

When I die I would hate the thought of being left alone in an undertakers.

But I understand why British people do this their way. But I feel it helps with the grieving process, and also I feel they look like they are sleeping and it is peaceful for me. We take turns staying up all night with the coffin, toasting the life of the person we lost.

permaquandry Wed 06-Mar-13 17:37:49

So sorry for your loss.

My DF died in the same way. I saw him in the funeral home and I'm glad I did othwerwise I would have always wondered if he would walk through the door again, or be out there living a double-life (bit far-fetched, I know).

I would suggest your DP checks what the undertakers think due to the amount of time he was undiscovered.

Such a sad thread. My sympathies to you all.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 06-Mar-13 17:20:30

I was very close to my gran and didn't go and see her body. I just couldn't. I wrote a letter and asked my aunty to put it in with her.

I didn't have any problem accepting she was gone, and her death was very sudden. I don't think I would ever want to see a loved one's body.

Sticklebug Wed 06-Mar-13 17:14:56

i would trust his instincts.

I really did not want to see my mum when she was dead, but got talked into it but a persuasive Swiss undertaker who kept telling me what 'a lovely job' he had done of her! I regretted it instantly and should have stuck to my guns and politely said no. 4 years on the clearest image I have of my mum is in her coffin.

However, my sister also went in to see her and it really helped her accept my mums death - which was v sudden and in another country.

pamelat Wed 06-Mar-13 17:07:44

I missed being with my grandma when she died by minutes. I'll never forgive myself those minutes. I went to see her in the chapel of rest and it was awful and I regretted it.

I went in alone and it was eerie and the room was horrible and too small, and smelt. Sorry. I found the "smell" followed me for days and scared me.

Most upsetting was speaking to her without hee being able to speak, it sounds ridiculously but that really upset me. It's three years ago and still upsets me.

It was the wrong thing for me but I felt I had to.

I lost my grandad six months later and was there at his death. I went to see him in a small group. It was ok. It sounds odd but I was comfortable with it. I'd fully accepted it and was prepared for the worst. It was a nicer room, no smells, and just better.

Personally I'd go, but in a group and it sounds silly but prepare yourself as it's quite a shock

SaggyOldClothCatpuss Wed 06-Mar-13 00:19:34

I was with my Grandfather when he died, and I saw him in the Chapel of Rest. I really wish I hadnt. It was very distressing.
However,
I wasnt with my Grandmother when she died, and I didnt see her in the Chapel of Rest, and I really wish that I had.
I think because I was with GF, I saw he had passed, and after leaving the hospital room for him to be laid out, then re entering, I could see he had gone.
There was no closure with GM. She had been ill for a very long time, far outlived her prognosis, and for years I couldn't quite believe she had gone.
IMO it would have helped me with closure to see her in the chapel.

As others have said though, after a week, seeing DB might well be upsetting but I think you are doing the right thing by going with the flow and letting DP decide. Whatever happens there will be regret and upset, but if you push him in either direction he may feel you helped him make the wrong decision.

louisianablue2000 Tue 05-Mar-13 23:46:17

I went with my Mum and brother to see Dad after he died of cancer. It was very strange but we'd had a long time to prepare for his death and he'd been unconscious for his last week and didn't look very different. That's a very different situation as well. I think I'd want to check with the undertaker about the appearance of the body but expect your Dh to still want to see the body whatever they say. It must be so hard for him.

1944girl Tue 05-Mar-13 23:31:35

Horsemad*

I believe the body is a shell too, when the soul which is the person you knew has gone, all that you see is the earthly covering.
I gave my DH some comfort over this when his mother died.She was a catholic and at her funeral he broke down in the church when he saw her coffin with the candles around it.I told him that his mother was not in that box but watching over him.

Novemberish Tue 05-Mar-13 11:07:24

Sunnywithshowers

I was lucky. She looked simultaneously like herself and not like herself - as if someone had put her together not having ever met her.

Such a perfect description. This sums up how I have been feeling about the way my beloved grandmother looked when I sat with her body.

For me, this was important and although slightly distressing, I am very glad I did it. It gave closure and allowed me to speak out loud to her body to say goodbye and tell her I loved her. I can't fully explain it but I felt her body needed me there and it was somethign I had to do.

On the other hand some other family members thought the idea was disgusting and morbid and the fact that I had been to visit her actually caused a few arguments.

Bereavement is such a personal process, I think everyone needs to do what they feel is neccessary to get through the hardest times and sometimes it may be hard to understand or the temptation to criticise might be there but I think we need to learn to respect these different opinions and actions at these times.

Horsemad Tue 05-Mar-13 10:59:20

It is such an individual decision. I saw my dad at the undertakers after he'd died suddenly and for me it was the right thing to do as I don't think I'd have believed it if I hadn't seen him.

What struck me most was that it was him but it wasn't. I realised then that his body was a shell and what made him him had gone when he died.

Sunnywithshowers Tue 05-Mar-13 00:07:51

Babs I know what you mean about the socks. I worried terribly that K would be lonely and wanted to put a teddy in with her at first.

I was lucky. She looked simultaneously like herself and not like herself - as if someone had put her together not having ever met her.

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

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.

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>>>

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.

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.

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