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Chapel of Rest visits - advice and opinions welcomed

(21 Posts)
ChineseFireball Fri 17-Jan-14 21:24:56

My dad died recently after a short illness. He had stage 4 cancer and lived for three months after his diagnosis. During that time he was only really ill for a couple of weeks or so but those weeks were fairly bad. I saw him last 5 days before he died when the hospital called to say it would be a good idea to visit him NOW. He barely knew we were there and was very out of it. I chose not to go and visit him again before he died.

Historically my relationship with him was not good. I found him very difficult to please, he was offensive and unsupportive in many ways and it was not unusual for me to be very ashamed of his behaviour. I'm so sorry - I sound absolutely awful, but it's important for my question that I explain a little about our relationship.

He is currently in the Chapel of Rest at the funeral directors. I don't know whether to go and see him or not. I am expecting that he will look very old, fairly jaundiced and sort of "sunken" because he lost a lot of weight in the last 3-4 weeks, but I think that he will also look a lot more peaceful than he did when I saw him before he died.

I'm wondering whether to go and tell him how I felt about him and to explain why our relationship was poor. Or to go and just tell him how sorry I am that his last 2 weeks were so horrible, but that I am glad it was just 2 weeks and not a drawn out thing. Or maybe to just go and maybe say goodbye or something. Or perhaps just not to go at all.

Does anyone have any advice, please? I'd like to remember the good things about him, but the last time I saw him he was very poorly and not in a good way. Might seeing him now be an improvement on my last memory? Would it be selfish to go to try to get my head around it a bit more? Should I just not go, and would I regret it if I didn't?

Quoteunquote Fri 17-Jan-14 22:57:28

I found it useful to see mum, she looked gone, but peaceful, and I told her how much I loved her,

Seeing my son was harder, but it felt that I was doing my last conversation with him.

good luck.

ChineseFireball Sat 18-Jan-14 05:41:24

Quoteunquote thank you so much for your reply and I'm really sorry for your loss sad

Morgause Sat 18-Jan-14 06:26:13

I didn't go to see my mum or dad in the chapel of rest and have no regrets at all.

DipDabDabDip Sat 18-Jan-14 06:34:15

I was with my nan when she died and stupidly went back into the room to see her one last time on my own as everyone else came out while I was phoning my DH.

It was a horrible last memory and I initially wanted to go and see her at the funeral home but luckily my parents and sister talked me out of it. I don't think it would have helped me and it would have just replaced that last image with a worse one.

I'm sorry for your loss. Would you not find talking at his graveside better? Or write everything down you want to say in a letter and ask for it to be placed in his coffin?

MumOfStan Sat 18-Jan-14 09:22:49

I'm so sorry for your loss. my dad died two months ago of advanced cancer. I live overseas and as such saw him last a month before he died where he looked very ill bless him. sunken as you describe and also jaundiced. it was only at the very last moment I decided to go and see him at the undertakers as I simply could not imagine being able to bear seeing him dead. however I am so glad I did. his jaundice was no longer apparent, and he looked very smart and well groomed in his coffin. he was unmistakably dead, didn't look like he was sleeping and I did notice how cold he was. but I felt some kind of calm descend over me once I'd seen him and kissed him a final time. hope this helps you.

ChineseFireball Sat 18-Jan-14 14:57:42

Thank you all for your replies. It is so sad that everyone at some point in their life will have to think about these things.

Dipdabdabdip that's a really good idea about the letter. He is to be cremated so I think I could bear that. I wouldn't want anyone to find and read the letter later on, although of course I know that would be very unlikely. I've arranged to go and see him tomorrow. I think I'll write something tonight and take it with me and then either I can talk to him or I can just leave the letter there.

Thank you for helping me straighten my thoughts out. Many condolences to you all.

MumOfStan Sat 18-Jan-14 15:09:54

I hope it goes smoothly. Is that even the right word for talking about such a thing? Who knows. but the letter sounds like a fab idea and I now remember that I put a rose in and a little note to dad too, whilst I was there. much love for you at what is such a hard time.

ChineseFireball Sat 18-Jan-14 22:03:45

Thanks Mumofstan. I appreciate it x

Mikkii Sat 18-Jan-14 22:12:53

I refused to see my nephew when he had died in an accident. I had seen him the previous weekend and that was how I wanted to remember him.

My father in law died following an accident and a weekend in ICU. I was pressured into seeing him as that is normal in their culture. It was nice to see him relaxed after being on life support and then struggling on for a further 48 hours or so once life support was withdrawn. However, he looked cold and yellow (he was naturally very tanned) so didn't look himself.

If you do not want yo go, just tell him what you want to say. I don't believe you have to say it to his body.

homeanddry Sat 18-Jan-14 22:50:01

My sister and I wanted to see our Dad in the chapel of rest because we'd had no idea that the previous time we'd seen him a couple of months before would be the last. So we both needed the visit to truly believe it, and to say goodbye.

But it was a shock. He looked so different that I didn't recognise him at all at first. I don't regret going, and it hasn't tainted my memory of him, but I don't think I'd have wanted to or gained anything from it if I had seen him in his final days.

It has to be your choice, with the sole aim of helping you cope as best you can with his death.

JeanSeberg Sat 18-Jan-14 23:00:12

I got a great deal of peace from seeing my mum in the COR. She died from Alzheimer's at 87 but when I saw her she looked so peaceful and minimum 10 years younger. They asked for a recent photo of her to prepare, I gave them a lovely summer dress she wore to my wedding to wear and asked them to make sure she was wearing her glasses.

All in all an uplifting experience but deeply personal of course.

Daerve Sat 18-Jan-14 23:06:54

Having had a large amount of experience dealing with the recently deceased I personally wouldn't see any of my relatives after death.

They just don't look the same and I'd much prefer to remember our happy moments together when we were smiling rather than an incredibly sad moment with someone whom you hardly recognise.

I realise it brings some people peace which is why I'd never be against it but for me, no.

ChineseFireball Sun 19-Jan-14 14:43:16

Well I went. I'm glad I did. He looked very different and sort of like a wax work of himself. I kept waiting for him to breathe, but of course he didn't. But he did look peaceful. Not asleep, but at peace. And younger - maybe because there didn't seem to be any wrinkles on his face. They had dressed him really smartly and he would have been proud of how he looked. Not at all what I expected and there was a smell in the room which I can't get out of my nose, but the right thing for me to do. Thank you all so much for your contributions. RIP Dad.

JeanSeberg Sun 19-Jan-14 14:53:26

That's good to hear, I hope all goes well with the funeral. thanks

MumOfStan Sun 19-Jan-14 16:01:57

Ah glad you felt positive about going. RIP to your dad. May your loss get easier to bear in time. thanks

echt Fri 24-Jan-14 04:34:23

Sorry for your loss, Chinese, and glad that the the visit went well. I've posted because of what you said about the smell. When I went to see my father in the COR, about 20 years ago, I'd never been in one. I was on my own and apprehensive about how he might look, as you mentioned. The smell is what I remember, and have occasionally caught a whiff of it it certain florists. I think it's a smell to mask the chemicals they use when preparing the body for viewing. Like you, I could not and cannot forget it. memory and the olfactory nerves are very intimately linked.

I hope this post is not out of order, but you brought it all back for me.

All the best in the future.

meganorks Sat 25-Jan-14 20:11:38

I just went yesterday to visit my dad in COR. I wanted to go. He was very old and in poor health, but in the end died quite quickly and I didn't get a chance to say goodbye.

For me it made it all real. We have been busy with arrangements and I've had the odd tear. But seeing him there and saying goodbye I was quite upset. He didn't really look himself. He was quite thin and gaunt when I last saw him, but quite puffy faced in the COR. He also had more colour than he did in real life. That was all a little unnerving and added to my upset. I guess they tried to restore him a little instead of being pale and gaunt. But they had gone too far the other way.

I'm still glad I went, but its very much an individual decision.

ChineseFireball Sat 25-Jan-14 23:40:58

echt I thought initially the smell was in my nose like the smell of bleach when you overdo it, but you're absolutely right. I keep getting a sort of ghost of a smell. Really strange...but not unpleasant. I'm sorry if it has unsettled you, but I'm not sorry you posted.

meganorks I think we were very lucky with the funeral directors. It didn't even cross my mind that Dad would have had chemicals or make up on. He just looked like himself...sort of.

I didn't have any experience of losing a close relative as an adult before this. Now I do I am so so sorry for those who have lost someone. It's saddening but also gladdening that the condolences I will write or send or otherwise express in the future will be that much more sincere and heartfelt.

Death affects you in more ways than you'd think, doesn't it?

TheArticFunky Sun 26-Jan-14 01:23:39

It's a personal decision. I chose not to go because I didn't want my last memory of my Dad to be of me looking at him being dead.

My mil was very close to her mum who died over 20 years ago she regrets seeing her in the chapel of rest. My mum saw her mum at the undertakers just before the funeral
and she regrets seeing her.

I have many regrets. I wish I had spent far more time with my father when he was alive. I don't regret not seeing him when he was dead.

It is an individual thing and I think you should follow your gut instinct.

I 'm sorry for your loss.

TheArticFunky Sun 26-Jan-14 01:25:39

I'm sorry I hadn't read the whole thread before posting.

If you went then I'm sure that was the right decision for you.

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