Seeing is Relieving

Closeup of a beautiful funeral floral arrangement


How a Viewing Before Cremation Can Help Heal

For some, the thought of seeing their loved one’s body after they have passed away seems extremely difficult, if not impossible. The truth is, for most people, it is difficult—very difficult. Yet it is something hardly anyone ever regrets doing.


Cremation has surpassed traditional burial in the last several years as the preferred method of final disposition. Many families are surprised to learn that holding a public or private viewing prior to their loved one’s cremation services is not only possible, it’s something we at Chapman Funerals & Cremations encourage families to do. Although the trend of cremation has changed over the decades, the needs of the grieving have not. Viewing a loved one in death may be one of the hardest things a family will ever have to do, but it’s also one of the kindest.


What is a Viewing?

A viewing is a time that the family and friends of the deceased come to see them after they have been prepared by a funeral home. Viewings can be private with close family and/or invited guests in attendance only, or public, such as a wake, visiting hours, or open-casket funeral. A viewing oftentimes takes place in one of our Chapman viewing rooms, available at all of our locations. The deceased can be embalmed or not, depending on the family’s preference. They are prepared and gently arranged in a viewing casket with a quilt laid over them. The family may provide clothes to dress their loved one in.


What Do I Do at a Viewing?

This is an opportunity to say goodbye before cremation takes place. You can talk to your loved one, or just be in their presence at this final stage of life. You may touch them and hold their hand. You may also place items of significance in their casket to accompany them in cremation, such as letters, prayers, stuffed animals, or pictures. We’ve witnessed families send their loved ones off with bibles, baseball bats and caps, and fishing poles. Providing these items to their loved one during a viewing can bring comfort and peace of mind.


If you are not close to the deceased, you may choose to approach the casket and pay your respects to the family. However, no one is obligated to approach the deceased. If you don’t feel comfortable seeing the body, you can politely decline the viewing and pay your respects to the family in another way.


How Can a Viewing Help Heal?

Many families never get to see their loved one before they die and are transported to the funeral home. Others are present at the time of death in situations that are stressful or traumatic. A viewing allows families to see the person they love one last time in a calm and serene environment with the support of others around them. We prepare the deceased so that the family is given a last memory of their person that is peaceful and kempt. 


But most importantly, a viewing provides a family with the first, crucial step in healing through grief. Seeing the reality of death with one’s own eyes, sensing lifelessness through touch, are ways that one can truly accept the reality of their loss. As living creatures, we take in the world with our senses. When we are deprived of this experience when someone we know dies, it is much more difficult to reconcile the loss on a deeper, subconscious level.


Being by a loved one’s side as they make the journey toward cremation can bring comfort that lasts for the rest of a family’s life. Knowing their spouse, parent, sibling or child was with the people who loved them most until the very end can provide profound peace of mind.


Over the last 150 years, our funeral directors have helped countless families in their most difficult days. It is our purpose in life to provide comfort and guidance to the communities of Cape Cod and Massachusetts who are experiencing loss. If you would like to learn more about viewing, cremation services, or costs, please call us at one of our funeral homes nearest you in Falmouth, West Falmouth, Mashpee, Martha’s Vineyard, Wareham, Harwich, Yarmouth, Marstons Mills, Nantucket, Bridgewater or East Bridgewater.


We are always here to help.

Feeling overwhelmed with the options and decisions that accompany a loved one’s cremation? We’re here for you.



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