Frequently Asked Questions For Planning A Viewing

The viewing, also called visitation or calling hours, refers to a period of time before the funeral during which the body of the decedent is displayed in a casket. Though the viewing tends to take place one or two days before the funeral service itself, they are typically planned as part of the same event. The viewing is not mandatory, but many families find solace and comfort in attending them. Not sure what to do? Read these FAQs to learn more about planning the event.

What should the decedent wear during the viewing?

The deceased person typically wears their own clothing, and it is usually something that the family would recognize as belonging to this person. It should be personal. Many opt for their loved one to wear their "Sunday best" for the viewing and funeral, but this is a personal choice. Jewelry, including watches and necklaces, are common. Many people want their loved ones to wear a wedding ring as well. You will have the opportunity to take off the jewelry before burial or cremation if you wish.

Does my loved one have to be embalmed in order to have a viewing?

This is often a personal choice, and one you need to discuss with your funeral home. The choice to embalm is often based on religious beliefs and burial requirements. In some cases, viewings are possible soon after your loved one has passed away without embalming.

What do viewing attendees typically do?

Those who come to the viewing typically socialize with others. A guest book is often available for signing and is used as a record for the survivors of the deceased. Family members may also look at photos of the deceased and reminisce about good moments in his or her life. Some prized possessions, like a favorite hat or pair of cowboy boots, may be on display too. Some families will also create a DVD or slideshow with great moments from the decedent's life.

Does a viewing have to have an open casket?

In some cases, viewings are held without open caskets. The body of the deceased does not have to be on display, and many family members prefer for the casket to be closed. In some cases, the body of the decedent is damaged due to trauma or illness, and display is just not feasible. A formal photo may be placed on top of the casket so that loved ones can remember how they looked in good times.

I am Jewish. Can I have a viewing?

Again, this is a personal choice. Jewish funerals are typically held very soon after death, and the body of the decedent is not displayed. Additionally, the Torah speaks against embalming the body. It is wise to speak with a religious figure in your life to find peace with your decision to have or not to have a viewing.

Where does a viewing take place?

The viewing is commonly held at the funeral home preparing the body for cremation or burial. Some people choose to have a viewing at a church or other religious sanctuary.

Still have questions about planning a viewing? Get in touch with a funeral director, such as those at Parsippany Funeral Home Inc, today to discuss options, whether you are planning for your own future or for a dearly departed loved one.