You may wish to spend some time with the person who has died to say your last goodbyes. This often takes place at our beautiful riverside funeral home where you can gather, have tea and biscuits or bring something stronger, take your time and reminisce as a family, or just come and sit quietly with an open or closed coffin. Or if you wish you may hold a vigil at your home, or in church or where the funeral is to be held. Keeping a vigil the night before the funeral is an ancient ritual and a powerful experience. It gives a chance to say goodbye, reminisce, laugh and cry, and often enables mourners to be more present on the day of the funeral. The coffin can be open or closed.
We also encourage children to be allowed to come and see the person who has died. We set up the room with the coffin at a height they can see over, have lots of drawing paper and coloured pens available to them or they can play with our dog, Tati, so they have a distraction if they want. Before they go in we tell them exactly what they will see so there are no surprises or shocks. Actually seeing the person, especially if their last experience was of Granny or Mum with lots of activity, tubes and monitors around her, can allay their fears and stop their imaginations conjuring up frightening images. But it is important that the child has choice. If the child is offered the opportunity to view the body but chooses not to, then this must be respected, the important thing being given the opportunity gives some control over a life which at that point feels chaotic and out of control.
Research has shown that people rarely regret seeing the body of the person who has died, even in challenging circumstances, if they can talk through what they are going to see. We would explain to you exactly what to expect and set up the room to make this as easy an experience as possible for you.