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Visiting your loved one in the Chapel of Rest

(37 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.

ITCouldBeWorse Tue 19-Nov-13 21:19:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SauvignonBlanche Tue 19-Nov-13 21:22:42

I'm sorry for you loss. sad I lost my DF suddenly too, it was a terrible shock.
When you see him in the chapel of rest he'll look like him but he'll look different. The strangest thing is how cold he'll be.
My DM was a devout RC and when she died we had a short service for close family round her one coffin, all her grandchildren were there and we all took turns making the sign of the cross on her forehead.

It was sad but very beautiful. Good luck for the days ahead. smile

rainbowfeet Tue 19-Nov-13 21:26:17

It's such a personal thing, nobody can tell you what to do. My dad died suddenly too at 49 when I was 20... I went to the chapel lots my sister didn't both of us stand by our choices. I found it comforting kind of felt like his soul or sole ?? Had moved on & all we were looking at was a mannequin that looked like him.
Didn't like how cold he felt though.hmm

AMumInScotland Tue 19-Nov-13 21:27:00

In my experience (only done it a couple of times) there will be a smallish room, with your Dad already there in the open coffin ahead of your visit, assuming you let them know roughly when you're going to be there. He's likely to be mostly covered up, but his face and the top of his jacket/shirt will be visible. The top of the coffin with his name and dates may be against the wall.

The funeral director will likely show you in and then leave you there for as long as you want. I have no experience of the Last Rites so I don't know quite what the priest will do.

IME, he will look very 'peaceful' but not really as if he is asleep - I think you can tell that what made him 'hinself' isn't there any more.

FWIW I found it a good way to get a sense of closure, but be prepared to feel a bit overcome, or just numb, or all sorts of other things.

CocktailQueen Tue 19-Nov-13 21:27:36

I'm so sorry for your loss. Hugs to you.

Your dad will look peaceful but he won't look like himself. The undefinable something that made him him will be gone (and I gave found this really comforting - it means his spirit is gone, and all that's left is his shell).

I think it's important to see him for closure for you. Hugs, xx

Sirzy Tue 19-Nov-13 21:31:14

So sorry for your loss.

The undertakers will do their best to make him look 'right' but of course its impossible for it to be perfect. When I went to see my Grandad we messed his hair up because he didn't look right with it so neat. My nan died the day after I had written christening invites for DS christening so I put hers in with her in the coffin when we visted. There really is no right and wrong when it comes to these things it is what gives you comfort.

You may get there and not want to go in at all which is fine.

Just as a side note but if you are planning on visiting more than once you are charged each time they bring the body out - we discovered that the expensive way after my Nan visited my Grandad every day for a week (not that it mattered as it gave her comfort but prior warning would have been nice)

bigbluebus Tue 19-Nov-13 21:37:35

Thank you all for sharing your personal experiences.
I think I am going to find it tough, but it's something I need to do, as I didn't see him that often when he was alive (due to distance). Visiting my parent's house this week has been a strange experience really - knowing he's not there sitting in his chair but it almost being like he's just absent as he's popped out to the shops, rather than never going to be there again, IYKWIM.
It will be good for my Mum to see him looking peaceful, as he collapsed suddenly at home and she found him, but it was too late to do anything. She currently keeps remembering him lying on the floor not moving, rather than remembering the 60 years they spent together.

Letticetheslug Tue 19-Nov-13 21:42:47

I really, really didn't want to go, but my mum needed to,so I went with her ( I was 54!) I am so glad I did, he didn't look alive , but it helped me so much to realise he (the real person) had gone. He died while I was out of the country.

I think it helped my mum too. My sister didn't want to go either, but after I had been she went to and felt the same

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.

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

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

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 .

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

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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

AMumInScotland Wed 20-Nov-13 11:10:28

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.

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.

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.

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

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

LollipopViolet Sun 24-Nov-13 16:03:16

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 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

LollipopViolet Mon 25-Nov-13 21:06:07

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.

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