When someone has an initial brush with death, the traditions of death and burial may seem foreign and confusing. Even more perplexing may be the visitation, which is the viewing of the body that is typically held before the cremation itself or alternatively done with just the ashes present. During a traditional visitation, the closest friends and family members often stay by or near the casket while loved ones come and view the deceased person's body one last time. Visitors also comfort the family. Here are some of the dos and don'ts of etiquette when you're attending a visitation prior to the cremation service.
Do Consider and Follow Instructions in the Public Death Notice
In the aftermath of a death, the family typically posts a public death notice in the local paper and news website. Oftentimes a more length obituary will be published. Be sure to read the notice and look for information within the piece on the visitation. It will often state the date, time, and location of the visitation. If the specific location isn't stated but a funeral home is given within the piece, it's a safe bet that the visitation will be there, but you can call the funeral home to confirm this.
Read this carefully for clues on what the family prefers for the visitation. For example, they may request a donation instead of flowers. It would be rude to ignore he family's request and do what you want instead. This time should be about easing the family's pain by following their requests for honoring their loved one's memory.
Don't Bring Friends to the Visitation
Although you may want to bring someone along to the visitation, especially if you have plans directly after a brief visit to see the family, resist the temptation to bring along a stranger. The last thing that the family of the deceased will want to do is meet new people at the visitation. Sometimes the visitation can be more painful for the family than the cremation service itself.
The visitation presents them with an extended amount of time to sit in the immediate presence of their loved one's dead body, which can be traumatic, especially for younger people. Try not to introduce added stress by bringing a stranger or guest to the viewing. It's not a party, and it's not intended to be a social gathering beyond sharing remembrances and condolences.
Do Wear Dark, Traditional Clothes
You are not required to wear black to a visitation, but you shouldn't come in brightly colored attired, either. Think brown, black, gray, navy blue, or other dark color. The style of clothing should be simple and traditional. Skip any sort of flirty dress or shorts. Dressing simply makes sure that you don't distract from the visitation and shows your respect for both the deceased person and the mourners.
Finally, minding your manners at a visitation before the cremation service isn't always as straightforward as it may seem at first. However, keep in mind that the first rule of thumb is to treat the mourners as you would like to be treated in that situation. When you remember that and follow these do's and don'ts, you are sure to be an appreciated presence at the visitation as well as the subsequent cremation service.
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