One of the purposes of a funeral is to activate a support network for those who are grieving. We aren’t meant to live life alone, and the visitation provides an opportunity for friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors to pay their respects and offer their support and condolences.
By choosing to include a visitation in your funeral plans, you give others the opportunity to show their love for you, support you, and offer words of kindness and sincerity. Most often, the body is present during the visitation, but this is not required. However, if the body is not present, prominently display a photograph, urn, or some other item to represent the person who has died.
Including a visitation benefits you in a number of ways:
- Activates a community of support for the grief journey. The visitation allows those who love you to express their emotions about the loss and offer their comfort and support.
- Helps you acknowledge the reality of death. The visitation provides an opportunity for the grieving to come to terms with the loss. By talking about the loss, sharing the last moments or memories of your loved one, you begin to accept the reality that a loved one has died.
- Allows you to share memories. Have you noticed that you might share the same story again and again? By sharing memories and stories, we not only have an opportunity to get our thoughts and emotions outside of ourselves, we also have the opportunity to encourage others with our memories. Someone else may share a story that gives a fresh look at a loved one’s life and impact your own grief journey.
Whether or not you hold a visitation is entirely up to you and the needs of your family. No two families are the same, so their needs will be different. Visitation or not, set aside time for people to come together for a special time of remembrance and healing where they can share memories and tell the story of a person’s life.