View The Body, Or Not View The Body? That Is The Cremation Question

Cremation funeral services still provide families with choices. This may surprise you if you thought that a cremation was just a cremation followed by a religious service. One of the biggest choices that any crematorium and funeral home offers those choosing cremation is whether or not there will be a viewing of the body. Here is the how, when, and why of this choice.  

How the Choice Is Made

If the body of the deceased has been too badly marred or it has decomposed past recognition, a cremation is imminent anyway. What is also imminent is a desire to avoid showing a body of a loved one in such horrific conditions. Even if the deceased had not wanted cremation, under these circumstances it may become necessary. 

On the flip side, a body that is still in good condition may only be cremated if that is the wish of the deceased. Planning ahead for one's death and talking with family members about final plans helps. It also alerts family to the fact that the person wants family and friends to have a chance to say their goodbyes to a body at the viewing, and not miss out on that chance because the body was cremated before it could be viewed. 

When There Should and Should Not Be a Viewing

As previously mentioned, a body that is seriously decomposed, marred from an accident, or is little more than skeletal remains when the body is recovered should not be held for a viewing. At the very least it should not be an open casket. Unless the deceased mentioned that he/she did not want a viewing, the rest of the situations for a viewing are fair game. 

Why a Viewing or No Viewing

Sometimes the viewing can be too emotional or too traumatic for some people. Sometimes a viewing is too scary if there are little children left behind. Sometimes remembering that the deceased was full of life is the way family members want to remember him/her. There is also the deceased's final wishes to consider and respect in this matter. 

There is also the healing comfort of being able to see the deceased laying in a casket and coming to terms with that fact. It is important and therapeutic, before the body is cremated, to see the loved one and say goodbye. Discuss both sides of the cremation coin to see what works best.