What would anyone else do?

(18 Posts)
needahug57 Mon 14-Jul-14 09:00:30

My husband died In Spain just over 2 weeks ago and his body only arrived back in England last Wednesday. After he'd died I was allowed very little time with him and now because he's been embalmed and they do it differently over there I'm being advised not to see him. (It was a peaceful death he had a heart attack in his sleep and I believe he knew nothing about it.) I've discussed it with my sons and we don't want to be haunted by what we might see if we do decide to see him. It's just so hard though knowing I have just a few days left when I can see him before he's cremated.
Has anyone else been in this situation and decided to view their beloved and regretted it afterwards? I so desperately want to see him one more time. My sons feel that if they don't see him they can't quite believe that he's died (they're in their twenties) but I'm scared they will regret it if they do.

CorporateRockWhore Mon 14-Jul-14 09:09:49

Oh I am so sorry for your loss.

I don't have any good advice as I have never been in your situation but couldn't read and run. Hopefully someone more helpful will be along soon.

Be kind to yourself.

KiaOraOAotearoa Mon 14-Jul-14 09:26:16

Do go and see him, you need closure.
The advice was well intended and I am sure it was done with your family's best interest at heart. How about a half way solution, go and hold his hand and if you feel you want to see more, say so, if not, just spend some time holding his hand.
I am very sorry for your loss, hope you find the strength you need.

Purplewithred Mon 14-Jul-14 09:28:42

So sorry for your loss. What Kia says is lovely advice.

Leakingwellies Mon 14-Jul-14 11:37:52

I went to see my dh in March just before the funeral and although I don't regret it as such I think it was too emotionally demanding on me and I have no recollection of how he looked. I just remember saying it wasn't him (he had had a pm). We brought him home in a closed coffin the night before the funeral and I felt peaceful then knowing he was home. Its a very personal decision to make and whatever you decide I wish you strength. X

campocaro Mon 14-Jul-14 12:08:06

I wasn't able to see my father before he was taken to the undertakers and had difficulty accepting his death. So when my mother died after a horrible illness (when I went for a short break after a week´s bedside vigil...) I wanted to see her. I did say goodbye properly and that was good and necessary for me.

However it took me along time to come to terms with the image of her face in death. I found it helpful to have a couple of good photos of her to remember her in life -still have these and the haunting memory of how she looked in death has now faded but it did take several years.

Selks Mon 14-Jul-14 12:13:07

I'm very sorry for your loss, OP.

Maybe if you were able to get some more information about how the embalming process might have affected the body it would allow you to make and informed choice and be prepared before you did see his body, if that is what you chose to do, although the details of the embalming might be upsetting. I think that's what I might do, although clearly there is no easy answer for this situation.

Selks Mon 14-Jul-14 12:14:13

Kia's advice is good. Holding his hand could be a good compromise.

HeavenlyE Mon 14-Jul-14 12:17:59

Hello, am sorry for your loss.

I saw my son after he died - immediately after, when he looked just like himself, and then when he was in his coffin when he looked nothing like himself. I have been able to 'wipe away' the image of his face then as I only looked at him for a very short time.

However, I would have regretted not seeing him that last time if I had not done it.

I agree with campocaro that seeing your loved one in death is very difficult and does haunt me in a way, but the very fact of his death haunts me, so having seen him is just a part of that.

I suppose what I am trying to say is my advice based on my experience would be to go and see him, but to be ready to only have a short visit if you feel he is too changed. When I saw my son as well I had a profound feeling that it was not him: what made him 'him' was gone.

I would be very wary of thinking that seeing your husband will give you any kind of 'closure'. I am not sure you can get 'closure' when a loved one dies, especially when it is out of the blue - the shock and disbelief can last for a long time.

slithytove Mon 14-Jul-14 12:25:35

When my daughter died, it took a couple of weeks to get her body back after the autopsy.

I asked the funeral home staff if they thought I could see her, and they said yes. I am so so so glad I did. That was my final goodbye to my little girl, after all the rush and blur of losing her to begin with.

Not scary at all. And lovely to see his nicely she was treated.

I'm so sorry for your loss thanks

slithytove Mon 14-Jul-14 12:27:20

*how nicely

I will say though - again, it wasn't 'her'. She looked like a little doll. The essence of her had gone.

Solo Mon 14-Jul-14 12:34:26

OP, I'm sorry for your loss. Can I ask who advised you not to see your Dh's body now?
When my DDad died, we viewed him several times, but his funeral was 3 weeks after his death and he wasn't embalmed. His Brother came for Dads funeral and asked if he could see Dad before he left the Funeral Parlour, but the lovely lady there advised that is was not the best idea at that stage. The reason we decided against embalming was because my best friends Mum died a few weeks prior to Dad and she had been embalmed, my friend said it completely distorted her Mums face which still haunts her 5 years on.
I would be guided by the Funeral Home in your place I think.

sillymillyb Mon 14-Jul-14 12:40:08

I saw my dad just after he died, and was reassured by how it wasn't him. It really wasn't, though I can't place why - because he looked the same. He was just gone.

I think the advice of holding his hand is good, see how you feel and take it from there.

I am so sorry for your loss x

needahug57 Mon 14-Jul-14 12:41:12

Thank you everyone for your replies. I have the funeral director coming to the house this afternoon and I think I'll chat to him about it. Holding his hand sounds like a good idea as a part of me doesn't even know if it's really him inside the coffin.
It's my boys I'm thinking about but maybe if I see him first I can make a decision as to whether they should go. My dad died 18 months ago. I was with him when he died and it was traumatic so seeing him later was a good thing as he looked so much like his old self. I was with my husband as he died by my side in bed and looked very peaceful, he just seems to have died in his sleep. He's had a PM and it was a sudden heart attack with no previous symptoms which is why it is such a shock for us all.
My husband always believed in seeing his relatives after they'd died and I know if it was me he would do.
Thank you for your support x

Could you take a good friend with you. Someone quite practical who didn't know your dh and is willing. They could possibly check first and tell you if they think it would upset you too much.
I'm sorry for your loss x

needahug57 Mon 14-Jul-14 13:21:07

Thank you, that's a good idea. I've just spoken to my dh's GP and he thinks that if I don't see him I might always regret it. The funeral director just says he's very pale as the embalming process in Spain is very different to here. I'll speak to him this pm before I make my decision.

Solo Mon 14-Jul-14 13:38:24

Just very pale doesn't sound so bad really. All the best to you and your Son's.

Honsandrevels Mon 14-Jul-14 13:47:51

My dad died before I was born and my heavily pregnant mum wasn't able to be with him in time. She regretted seeing him after he had died because he had gone. It wasn't him anymore and I think it took a while for her to put aside the image of him when he had died and concentrate on happier times.

I'm sorry for your loss and hope you manage to make a decision. It must be terribly difficult to know what to do.

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