Visiting your loved one in the Chapel of Rest

(34 Posts)
bigbluebus Tue 19-Nov-13 21:13:54

My dear Dad died suddenly and unexpectedly at the end of last week. He was old, but as fit as a fiddle - or so we thought.sad. We are busying ourselves with all the funeral arrangements and finances and supporting my Mother, who is frail and lost as Dad did everything for her.

Mum wants to go and visit Dad in the Chapel of Rest and has asked me and my brother to go with her. It hadn't even occurred to me until it was mentioned today. I have no previous experience of close family bereavement and so this is all new to me.

Can someone who has done this please tell me what to expect? I know Mum is arranging for a Priest to come with us as both she and Dad are devout Catholics, so I assume he will do some sort of blessing/prayers as there was no opportunity for the Last Rites. But I can't begin to prepare for seeing Dad in a coffin as I have no idea what to expect, except that Mum has taken Dad's suit in for him to be dressed in.

Blondeshavemorefun Tue 10-Dec-13 18:47:13

so sorry to hear about your dads death sad

i saw my dh almost 3years ago in the chapel of rest - i did it as needed him to look as normal as possible (as death was suicide and i found him) and needed a good last memory iyswim

funeral directors were lovely, they told me to take my time, i chose what clothes i wanted and they shaved and brushed his hair (silly but what i wanted)

you can go in alone, or with them/a friend/relative

i left some of his fav things, like packet of tobacco/lighter/bottle of beer

you can stay as long or little as you want

it was a weird exp, and tbh not one i want to repeat ........ but needed to go

dh mum didnt want to see him shes a cold woman and my female friends didnt either (fair enough) so went with his aunt

some of dh male friends went to say goodbye to dh

as hard as it was/is to go, personally it was something i needed to do and would have regretted not seeing dh x

LilyTheSavage Sun 01-Dec-13 15:27:17

Thanks for your message. I'm sorry about your husband. My DS died very suddenly in a tragic and silly accident. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with him before his funeral. We are still in shock nearly four months later.
I like hearing about you reading the sports pages to your DH.
I hope you find peace and happiness. XX

strugglinginsilence Sun 01-Dec-13 11:17:14

Oh Lily, my heart goes out to you.

I lost my DH nearly three years ago and also spent a lot of time at the Chapel of Rest with him, I would read the sports pages to him each morning until the funeral.

I do think if the loved one has died after a lot of medical intervention it is best not to have the memory of how the treatment leaves them.

Look after yourselves, bereavement has a huge impact across your whole life and you need to be kind to yourself.

3girlies Sat 30-Nov-13 19:57:22

Hi, firstly I am very sorry for your loss. I went to visit our daughter aged 6 in the funeral home a couple of times, firstly alone, the funeral director was very kind and stayed with me, then with my parents, husband and Flora's sister who was 10 at the time. I as very glad that we did this, she was dressed in a beautiful outfit and I was glad that she was no longer in pain, just us. I am very glad we did this this, took a few last photo's, and spent a little time with her. Hope you feel the same. XX

LilyTheSavage Thu 28-Nov-13 08:29:01

Hi Echt. I'm sorry for your loss, but I'm loving the scarlet cardi - and didn't mis-understand what you meant. We had my DS (aged 21) dressed in some favourite shorts, old rugby socks, a vest and his fluffy dressing gown. It was a really eclectic mixture and looked dreadfully mismatched, but his brothers had chosen them and they were perfect. I chose his dressing gown as he loved wearing it and also his big snuggly blanket. When I went to see him the first time in his clothes at the funeral home chapel of rest they'd draped the blanket over him like a tablecloth so I rearranged it to snuggle around him. To their credit they left it exactly as I'd put it.
Makes me cry a bit too writing this. Hope you're ok now. XXX

echt Thu 28-Nov-13 08:05:07

Or cardi.

echt Thu 28-Nov-13 08:04:45

That should be "dressed her". The idea of a care home in a scarlet card is a bit odd. smile

echt Thu 28-Nov-13 08:03:06

I think seeing your dad in his suit will be a comfort. When I saw my dad, he was in a shroud provided by the funeral home. If you looked close it was just pinned over the body and into the sides of the coffin - like Howard Wolowitz's fake polo necks. It made my lovely dad look like the Pope, when his weird jumpers and tatty tweed jacket would have been just right.

The same happened when my DB died who, oddly, had the same negligent attitude to daily clothes as our dad.

When my DM died, the care home she was in dressed in a lovely skirt, blouse and vivid scarlet cardigan. So much better, such a comfort.

I'm crying a bit just writing this

All the best, bigbluebus. On the whole, seeing your dead loved ones is better than not.

Musicaltheatremum Tue 26-Nov-13 21:27:22

I went to see my husband the day before his funeral. He had died peacefully at home. I am so glad I did it. It was the most harrowing distressing part of that horrible time but it was the correct thing to do. I went with my children (18 and 16) and we put notes in the coffin with him. I think the thing that upset us more was seeing the lid of the coffin saying his name with his age (50) on the coffin. It brought it home and made it very real but I look back and see it as an important part of the grieving process.

Thanks Lily - it's only been 8 weeks, so it's still a very new bereavement, really.

I still have days where I just want to hide away and cry. Not having the regrets and the "what ifs" has definitely helped, though.

LilyTheSavage Mon 25-Nov-13 12:37:53

Hi. Well done for going to see him. I think it was probably a good idea and then you won't always be wondering "what if!" At least you could say goodbye to him there. My DS looked the same but the stillness was weird, if he was asleep he'd have been curled up. I understand exactly what you say about being cold. He felt hard but with a soft coating as well. I spent a lot of time with my boy the week he was in the chapel of rest, just being beside him, sometimes reading, sometimes just touching him, a lot of time crying. Makes me weepy again writing this, and I only do so hoping that sharing what happened to me will help you in some small way.
I'm very glad that you got some closure, and I hope it gives you some peace.
Hugs. XXX

Sending hugs xxx

I went to see my granddad after he died, at the funeral directors.

It was very hard, but I am so glad I did, as I didn't go to see him the day before he died and was holding onto lots of regret about that.

He was very cold to touch, and looked different, but for me, the whole experience offered me some closure.

I hope it does you too x

LilyTheSavage Sun 24-Nov-13 13:57:44

I am so sorry for your loss. My darling son died in August and so visiting him in the mortuary the day after he'd died and then several times in the chapel of rest is still very clear. When we saw Paddy in the mortuary although he was in a private room he was dressed in a hospital gown, he still had a tube in his mouth and he still had blood on his head where he hadn't been washed yet. It was terribly sad seeing him like that, but it didn't seem like him any more. We then saw him a couple of days later in the chapel of rest and by then the lovely funeral directors had washed him and dressed him in the clothes we'd chosen. He wasn't in his coffin but was on a trolley so I was able to snuggle him up in the blanket I'd brought. We put letters and photos in his dressing gown pockets and I'd said that he wasn't to have any make-up on. He was 21 and would have hated that. He just looked asleep and peaceful, but the thing that shocked me was how cold he felt when I kissed him and how hard and still. It was my boy, but yet it wasn't. The funeral directors were really lovely and we could visit at any time of the day or night and as many times as we wanted. Nothing was too much trouble. They are used to tears and seeing people upset and grieving. I hope yours are as kind as ours were. It helps.
Look after yourself and be kind to yourself. Don't be afraid or worried about articulating to people what you want. This is a good time to just say things just as you feel.
I hope you feel peaceful when you've visited your dad.

Sending you hugs. XXX

Juneywoony Fri 22-Nov-13 06:51:12

So sorry for the loss of your dear father.

My sister committed suicide almost 4 weeks ago now, four days before her 28th birthday.

I had always thought that when somebody died I would like to remember them in life and not see them in the chapel of rest, however being hit with this situation it totally changed. Like you I had never really lost anyone so close to me before.

I went to see her the night of the day she did it in the hospital, I just had to see her, I didn't believe she was dead! At this point nothing had been done to her so although she did look asleep, she didn't look quite right.

I went a week later to see her in the chapel of rest, they had brushed her hair down lovely, she was in a lovely set of fluffy pj's her best friend had bought her. She looked so peaceful and just like she was asleep, I just expected her to just wake up. I think the fact that she was young made a difference as she really looked like herself. The funeral parlour told us that they hadn't had to put any sort of make up on her as her complexion was just so lovely.

I took photo's of my children, a picture my 6 year old dd had drawn of her, I wrote her a letter and bought all her favourite chocolates and placed them in the coffin. I went with my our mum. We sat and chatted to her and stroked her hair, it wasn't at all scary, just terribly sad and upsetting.

I hope your experience is as nice as mine was.

Sending you lots of hugs at this terrible time, xxxxx

Weegiemum Wed 20-Nov-13 23:41:41

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I've only seen a dead person once, when a neighbour of ours died ans she phoned us in a panic (dh is a doctor).

The moment I walked into the room it was so clear to me that this wasn't Mick any more. It was the place Mick used to live.

We have several imminent deaths in our family coming up - knowing what it looks like already is a great relief.

Ohwhatfuckeryisthis Wed 20-Nov-13 23:32:31

thanks for your loss. My dm died a month ago. I was with her at the end but ds wasn't. She wanted to go, but felt much like you, unsure and a little afraid. all the ops are right, he will look different. But we sorted the tie on her dress, did her hair properly, sprayed some of her favourite scent on her hands.And actually realising that the spark that made her Mum was gone helped us to let go. Take him something, tell him you love him and look after your mum and yourself.

If you're the one dealing with the practicalities, then you may find the grief catches up with you a bit later, when you're less busy and things have calmed down again after the funeral. It can be a bit of a shock (to you and those around you) if you've been looking like you were 'coping' and 'getting over it' and then all of a sudden you're a weepy mess. But, if it happens, just accept it and be kind to yourself. Sometimes the busyness blots out the feelings for a while.

Arkina Wed 20-Nov-13 10:56:26

I had a conversation with my BF in early Jan 09 when her gran in law died and how the fact her FIL was going to see her at the undertakers gave us the heebie jeebies and oh no absolutely no way wed do that.

My dad suddenly several weeks later and 2 days before the funeral my mum, brother, SIL and myself went to see him at the undertakers. we all spent a wee bit time on our own with him said our personal goodbyes and put a letter in the coffin

Ive never regretted it and would definitely suggest to friends when the time comes to do it

bigbluebus Wed 20-Nov-13 08:51:31

Thanks everyone. I'm in floods of tears just reading this thread, so imagine what I'm going to be like when I see him.
I think the last few days have just been a blur really, as I have been so busy making funeral arrangements and investigating support to be put in place for Mum. I don't think I've really cried apart from when I took the initial phone call to say that he had died. So maybe seeing him is what I need to do so I can start to grieve.

everlong Wed 20-Nov-13 06:55:51

It is a scary and unimaginable thought seeing someone you love in a coffin and I was adamant that I couldn't go and see my ds (20) when he died.
But I did. And I'll be glad that I did forever.

You will find your strength from somewhere to say goodbye to your dear dad.
So sorry for your loss.

JazzTheDog Tue 19-Nov-13 22:11:44

I went to see my dad after he died in the Chapel of Rest and was glad I did as the last memory I had of him was seeing him dead in the hospital and he looked more like himself in the chapel.

I sorted out his hair to make him look right too.

Sorry for your loss x

Floralnomad Tue 19-Nov-13 22:08:18

My dad died suddenly aged 50 ,in 1990 . I went with my mum to see him in the Chapel of rest ,one of my sisters chose not to come . In hindsight I wish I'd made that decision as he seemed so old in the coffin and didn't look 'right' ( I had seen him dead at home about 30 minutes after he died and he looked normal). Because it played on my mind I went back again the day before the funeral which was a huge mistake and an experience which will haunt me .Sorry about your loss .

bigbluebus Tue 19-Nov-13 22:06:10

Thanks all
I will have to have a think about something I can put in the coffin. That hadn't really occurred to me before either.
I am lucky to have got to nearly 50 and not lost anyone very close to me until now. My Grandparents all died when I was small and we weren't that close as we lived some distance apart. But I realise that this is just the start, as DM is quite frail and old and DMIL & DFIL are in late 80's too. sad

Allalonenow Tue 19-Nov-13 21:59:22

I am so sorry that you have lost your lovely Dad bigbb
I lost both my Mum and my Dad very suddenly, but I was glad that I went to see them, to have a final few moments with them, to say goodbye.

My Mum died just around Mothers' Day, I had already written her card, but not yet posted it, so I slid it in with her, so that she would know I had been thinking about her. You might have a small token that you would want to leave with your Dad.

The funeral directors are all very kind and gentle, your tears will not worry them, I know I cried a lot.

There is no right or wrong way to say goodbye to someone that you love, all that you can do is to be true to yourself and to the one you have lost.
Take care dear bigbb

duchesse Tue 19-Nov-13 21:49:35

My dad died earlier this year, in France, where open coffins at the funeral are the norm and you can visit your loved one's body as often as you like (by arrangement) in the run-up to the funeral. I saw my father's body in his hospital bed, in the mortuary, and at the funeral- four times in the 3.5 days before he was buried and it really helped I think. I really knew he was gone, and that it was only some shell left. I think it helps with the grieving process tbh. My sisters and stepmother touched his body but I didn't want to and I don't regret that. The point is that I had the chance to.

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