The Benefit of a Viewing Prior to Cremation

 A Viewing Before Cremation Starts a Journey of Healing Through Grief 


 Making a final memory with a loved one who’s passed on  


People say that viewing the body of a deceased loved one brings closure, but that’s not necessarily the best way to think about it. The idea of “closure” implies an ending. We believe instead that spending time with a loved one’s body allows for a healthier beginning to the journey of grief.

Sometimes people believe that choosing cremation instead of burial means they cannot have a viewing, visitation or funeral. The truth is that you may have a funeral, public viewing or memorial service no matter how the body will be laid to rest. Even if you will not have a public visitation before the cremation, a private viewing for the family can be extremely helpful and healing.

 Being near the body, seeing and touching it, makes the loss more tangible and helps you move past the initial shock and into acceptance. This last visit with your loved one also allows for powerful memories to be made: memories of love and support from others gathered to say goodbye, and a memory of peace and rest for the loved one who’s passed on.


Viewings Mark a Transition Between Life Before and After a Loss


In Virginia, the state requires a positive identification of the deceased by a family member or friend prior to the authorization of cremation. We view this as more than a legal formality. This private viewing offers a moment of transition from the start of your grief to the first steps of healing. We encourage families to take this time to sit with the deceased and spend as much time as needed to say their goodbyes.

 Family members are sometimes nervous about viewings, worrying about how their loved one will look or what to expect. At our funeral home, each deceased person is bathed and dressed in preparation for cremation. While no one will look the same in death as they did in life, most often the deceased’s appearance is one of rest and peace, which many families find to be a comfort and relief.

 There can be instances when viewing the body might be too upsetting or not advised, especially if there is great trauma to the body. In some of these cases, a viewing may do more harm than provide comfort. But even in those instances, we can take steps to accommodate the family and promote healing. We might cover up certain parts of the body but leave visible areas with less damage, such as the hands.


A Positive Final Memory

 As an example of the healing power of viewings: We once took care of a young woman who had died suddenly and traumatically. Her brother had been the one to find her after her death, and he had a violent image in his memory of how his sister appeared. The family was reluctant to view her prior to the cremation because of this and worries that seeing her in death would be too difficult and upsetting. 

After restorative work had been completed, there were no visible injuries, and we believed that a new final memory of his sister might help the brother in his grief. We discussed this with the family. After hearing our explanation and considering it, they decided to spend time with their loved one. How they’d imagined she would look was much worse than her actual appearance, and everyone in the family felt comforted by how peaceful she looked. The parents later shared their appreciation to us for encouraging that time to say goodbye.

 Creating these moments of comfort and space for grief and healing is one of the most important things we can do as a funeral home. From cremation services and burial services to grief support and memorials, the Farris Family has served Abingdon, Virginia families in their time of need for five generations. We are honored to take on that responsibility. If you have any questions or need guidance on a loved one’s passing, you can call us any time, day or night, at (276) 623-2700 or stop by to visit at 19415 Lee Hwy.


Forest Hills Memory Gardens | (276) 623-2717
19415 Lee Highway, Abingdon, VA

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