The Importance Of Visiting Hours

Close-up of the hands of two women comforting each other in grief


The death of a loved one can be a major destabilizing force in our lives. The person whose presence we were once so used to is now gone, and it might be difficult to believe that they won’t be coming back. This feeling can leave us feeling adrift, and confused. Our hearts long for someone who is no longer there, and our minds cannot fathom that absence.


Visiting hours give the deceased’s family and friends a chance to reckon with that absence. During visiting hours, also known as a visitation, friends and family of the deceased get the opportunity to view the body in an informal setting before the funeral services. Visiting hours often take place the day before the services, and aren’t limited to a set time, allowing those who loved the deceased to come and go on their own terms.


Visiting hours are an important part of the healing journey, and there are many benefits to this simple but meaningful ritual.


Visiting Hours Happen On The Family’s Own Terms

Visiting hours are a period of time set aside for the family and community to come together to mourn a loss. It’s a convenient opportunity for the public to pay their respects and grieve, and do the right thing by visiting with the family at a time that is convenient to them.


Visiting hours are also convenient for the family, who gets to see their community on their own terms, in a healthy way. When you give friends and family the opportunity to visit, view the deceased, and offer words of comfort, you ensure that there is only one gathering. We believe it is better to have one gathering rather than scores of mini gatherings at the grocery store, dry cleaner, Little League game, and other times in life when you might not be prepared to confront grief.


Visiting Hours Allow For An Emotional Release

A viewing isn’t for everyone. Seeing the body of a loved one can be difficult, and it usually brings out emotion. But feeling emotions is a good thing. It starts the healing process by allowing the reality of the moment to sink in. And becoming emotional at the funeral home is expected and normal. Visiting hours are a safe space for emotional release, which can lead to a feeling of catharsis and acceptance.


Visiting Hours Give Closure

The importance of knowing that the person in the casket is indeed your loved one cannot be overstated. Even if the casket is only open for five minutes, you will know that your loved one is present, at peace and surrounded by those that loved them. Our funeral directors have never encountered a family that regretted the viewing. In fact, we have spoken to families that felt regret about not having a viewing. Such is the power of seeing, and knowing.


Visiting Hours Are A Comfort To The Family

It is often the case that a person can attend a funeral or memorial service and never have the opportunity to speak with the family. They might be busy with the logistics of the funeral service, or simply have too many other people to talk to. Visiting hours are designed strictly for seeing the family and visiting with them. The next time you see the family you can talk about something else and not the death, which can be difficult if you see each other in a public place.


The pandemic has underscored the importance for us to talk to, touch, and express our feelings to one another. The best way to communicate is in person. Nothing even has to be said. A hand shake or hug, along with body language and facial expression, says it all. The grieving family will appreciate this gesture, and will find comfort in their community, family, and friendship. The intimacy of visiting hours makes this possible.


At all of our funeral home locations in Massachusetts – Falmouth, West Falmouth, Mashpee, Martha's Vineyard, Wareham, Harwich, Yarmouth, Marstons Mills, Nantucket, Bridgewater, and East Bridgewater – we are here to help support and guide our community during their times of need. If you have any questions about funeral arrangements or burial services, or are in need of assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re always available.

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