One of the most daunting parts of dealing with the loss of a loved one is the visit to the funeral home. First, there are the arrangements to be made, and then there is the potential for viewing your loved one. Much like the beauty and solace that is found when purchasing memorial jewellery, time with the funeral director and at the Chapel of Rest could help to move you through the process of grief. Although your time at the funeral home can feel unbearably painful, the decisions you make and the discussions you have can help begin the healing process.
Here we want to debunk some of the worries and concerns you may have about the funeral home. We hope this guide will provide some comfort and help overcome any potential fears you may have.
What Is A Funeral Home?
A funeral home is the name of the building where people are taken when they pass. A funeral director runs the establishment. It is this funeral director that will help you in your preparations for the burial or cremation of your loved one.
What Happens To A Body In A Funeral Home?
The funeral director will be asked to retrieve the person who passed once the death has been certified. This means that the funeral director will go to the family home, or the hospital, and remove the patient. They will then bring them back to the funeral home. What happens with your loved one from this point forward depends on the length of time between death and discovery. Sometimes, it can be many days or even weeks before a patient is found. At this point, the retrieval, and management, of the person is difficult, and the family are unlikely to be involved further with the body of the loved one.
However, if the death occurred in the hospital or the family home amongst relatives, the patient will be refrigerated once at the funeral home. If someone is left untreated at room temperature, the remains will deteriorate quickly. Once permission is granted, the person who has passed will be embalmed. The embalming process then involves the removal of bodily fluids and the replacement with embalming fluids.
However, much depends on the beliefs of the person. If the person who has passed is of the Muslim faith, it must be an imam who comes in to wash the loved one and then wrap them in an unbleached cloth. If your family member is Hindu or Sikh, then it is family members that must come and do the washing themselves.
Once embalmed, your loved one will be dressed and placed in a coffin. Again, cultures vary here. It is traditional for the family to provide the clothing and many offer a favourite outfit of the person who has passed. Some African cultures bury the dead in full robes and headdress. In some Chinese families, they also ask the funeral director to layout spare clothes around the coffin, to aid your loved one in their journey to their next life.
The funeral director will ask you for a picture of your loved one. The photograph helps the mortician present your loved one in a way that reflected the person in life. Therefore, they will return the skin tone and style the hair appropriately. It is also possible to apply make-up as your loved one would have worn it in life. Once prepared, your loved one will be transferred to the Chapel of Rest. Here the coffin will be placed in a private viewing room and can stay there for a day or longer if required.
If your loved one needed a post-mortem, you should not worry. The post-mortem will not change the appearance of the person who passed, and they can be prepared in the same way as if this had not happened. You will still be able to view the person who has passed.
What Is A Chapel Of Rest?
A Chapel of Rest is a room or a building where you can view your loved ones if they have passed. It is a room of remembrance. It is a place where you can visit to pay your last respects to those who have passed.
The Chapel of Rest is usually attached to the funeral home, where you went to arrange the details of the funeral. Alternatively, the funeral director may have a building used specifically for the viewing of bodies somewhere else.
There is no hard and fast rule as to what a Chapel of Rest should look like. The size and décor of the chapel will vary. The person who has passed with be placed in a coffin or casket, known as a catafalque. There may be seats for mourners to stay a period of time with the person who has passed, or there may be a place to light some candles. The privacy of those choosing to view their loved one will be secured. Although Chapels of Rest vary, they all share the same aim to keep this experience discreet.
What Happens In A Chapel Of Rest?
The Chapel of Rest is where people visit the loved one before she or he is buried. These places exist for those people who feel it is essential to say a final goodbye to a loved one. There is no requirement for you to visit the person who has passed or to see them.
The person organising the funeral will be given authority over whether the person can be viewed and by whom. There are no limits to who can see people who have passed, so a person of any age can visit the Chapel of Rest. Your relationship with the person who has passed is irrelevant.
The funeral director will advise you if it is suitable to view your loved one. It may be that the viewing would be too distressing, or that the cause of death means they are infectious. It may be that the coffin will need to be sealed for your emotional protection.
If it has been a long time between death and viewing, then your loved one may have begun to change. In these cases, the funeral director may encourage you to come much quicker, and they may cover the person who has passed with a veil, so the extent of these changes can be camouflaged.
Can You Take Photos In A Chapel Of Rest?
If you have permission from the next of kin, you can take photographs in the Chapel of Rest. However, you must ask permission of the person organising the funeral. It is likely that the taking of photographs could cause extreme distress or offence and should not be done if no consent is extended to you.
For some people, the taking of photographs can be useful as a tool for explaining the death to younger family members. It may be too challenging for very young children to be close to the remains of those who have passed, but the act of seeing the loved one in a coffin can help them to process the idea of death.
Chapel Of Rest Etiquette
Although visits to the Chapel of Rest are highly personal events, there are some general rules that people tend to follow. If you fear there may be specific instructions for how you should act, you can speak to the funeral director or the next of kin of the person who has passed.
First, what should you wear? To be honest, it is entirely up to you. It will ultimately depend on what you feel comfortable in – and it will depend on your relationship with the person who has passed. This is not the funeral; therefore, you are not expected to wear black, formal wear. You may have rules that are dictated by your culture or your spiritual beliefs. However, ultimately, you should decide what feels appropriate to you.
Should you speak in the Chapel of Rest? Many people take the opportunity to talk to the loved one who has passed. Visiting a loved one who has passed is the time when many people take the opportunity to vocalise how they feel and to say goodbye. Be aware of your tone of voice, what you are saying, and how it is being said, in case it is overheard by others who knew the loved one, and your words may hurt them. If you are alone in the room and cannot be heard, then you can speak from your emotions. Just remember that this is a moment that will last long in your memory.
You can choose to go into the Chapel of Rest alone. Be aware that this is an emotional and challenging experience. If you need someone to go in with you, the funeral director will likely be happy to accompany you. There is no set time limit, and you can visit more than once – there is no right or wrong decision here.
During your visit, you may wish to place items in the coffin. You may have written your loved one a letter, or want them to have a card, a teddy bear or a poem. This item will stay with the person who has passed within the coffin and be with them for the rest of their journey.
The loss of a loved one is challenging. Understanding what happens next can, in some ways, relieve some of the fear and worry about what to expect. In this guide to what happens in a funeral home, we hope we have demystified the establishment. You will now, we hope, be able to work closely with your funeral directors. The many, many people who have experienced the loss of a loved one will confirm that this process will be an essential part of the grieving process and one you will be grateful for in retrospect.