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Gabby101's avatar

What are funeral visitations like where you live?

Asked by Gabby101 (2433 points ) December 23rd, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, my mother died and is usual in this part of the country, we held a visitation (or viewing or mass) and then the next day the funeral. The visitation was arranged so that after visitors viewed my mother’s body, they were forced to go through a “reception line” and talk with my brother and me. Nearly 400 people came to my mom’s visitation and I had to talk with all of them. While I am incredibly grateful for the show of support and all of the kind words, I felt like I was involved in an endurance test on Survivor. I was exhausted and sad and honestly didn’t feel like I could make it through the night (we had to stand the whole time). There was a lounge, but every time I went to sit and take a break, someone would come and get me because there were people in the reception line again. I was just curious how other areas of the country or other faiths (maybe?) do this. It couldn’t have been easy for the guests either – some of them had to wait 30–45 minutes and many were elderly. I just think there must be a better way.

I was in Iowa and it was a Protestant funeral, BTW

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12 Answers

whitetigress's avatar

Everyone was invited to see the casket drop and put flowers on top at ours. We had a baptist preacher hold ceremony.

wilma's avatar

I have seen some that were arranged like what you describe. I have been to others where there was no line but visitors would come to the funeral home to see the family. The family may be sitting, but usually standing and others milling around visiting. I think it’s more apt to be the way it was for you if there are a lot of visitors. It is exhausting and it does seem like there could be a better way.
I live in the upper Midwest.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Of the family and friends funerals I’ve been to where there was a body viewing, it’s been similar where the closest family receive the attendees and accept condolences. When I was a kid then there was usually a banquet after the viewing from the family for the attendees. It would turn into a big party, sometimes gatherings going on for a few days at different family houses. It was a good way for the living to reconnect over the sharing memories of the dead.

DaphneT's avatar

I had to go through this with my father’s funeral and again last year for my sister’s. I was helping my brother-in-law and their 5 children, as were my remaining sisters and brothers and our mother. We all took turns with the line, with the brunt of it on my brother-in-law as the most immediate family member affected. The children ranged from 12 to 3 so were in and out as they desired. Where I live, and we’re catholic, we call it a wake, with funeral services the next day. The viewing is a variant of long ago practices of seeing the dead into the next world. It has developed into a social ritual that allows family, friends and acquaintances to acknowledge the life that has gone and to affirm that it wasn’t lived in vain. With my grandmother’s wake and funeral we called it a family reunion.

Jude's avatar

I live in Ontario, Canada. We did the same for my Mom’s funeral. People lined up out the door, down the road a bit, and ‘round the block. I shook hands with all of them.

filmfann's avatar

At my Fathers funeral, my sisters and I stood at the front of the church, and greeted the guests as they entered. Having 3 of us there helped, since some guests felt it necessary to talk for a minute.

geeky_mama's avatar

@Gabby101 – my condolences..first on the loss of your mom, and then the marathon visitation. I live in Minnesota—so as you might expect, funerals here are about the same as what you describe.
I grew up in Ohio (Lutheran) and..same there, too. Personally, I dislike the visitation night..but I’m a bit of an introvert. Also, I find the open casket (often at the visitation) a bit…unsettling.

The best part of funerals I’ve been to have been to here in Minnesota have been the meals by the church ladies after the service (but before the graveside service-which is typically just the family and nearest friends.) Some churches do quite a lovely hot dish meal for funerals..and there are groups of women who volunteer to be on-call for this at our church.

Also the custom around these parts is also to flood the immediate family with lots of pre-made meals and hot dishes (or salads if it’s summer weather) if they have a loss. I get a call relatively often from church to make a dish for someone who’s had a death in the family. Seems counter-intuitive to me…if I lost a family member I don’t think I’d be hungry. Still..it’s tradition around here and it’s just one of the things we do.

Personally, I’ve already put in my will that should I die I want a casual family party & a cremation. No visitation, no church or graveside service and DEFINITELY no open casket or ANY event of any kind at funeral home. No black funeral clothes (unless you want to wear your little black dress) and I’ve suggested some music—but it’s all upbeat. (And if I live to an advanced age I might need to update the play list!)

JLeslie's avatar

I hate receiving lines. I hate having to go through them and I hate having to be the one to greet everyone. I did not do one at my wedding, and I would not do one at the funeral of my relatives if it was up to me to organize it, unless the relative specifically requested it.

At the Catholic viewings I have been to, usually the family is seated, and people can go up to them and share their condolensces. The Jewish funerals I have been to (I have never been to a Jewish funeral with an open casket, I have no idea if we even do them?). Anyway, the Jewish funerals I have attended I never had to go through a reception line either.

If my husband passed away, God forbid, I think people from his job would come, and I really could care less if I personally shake each of their hands. I appreciate their attendance, don’t get me wrong; it would make me feel good to know he was liked by so many.

the_overthinker's avatar

From what I remember.. when I was a child.. we went to the funeral home and all the relatives of the passed away (including me) had a white cloth tied to our foreheads. People from the Buddhist temple was there, and then they chanted for 3 hours (I think?) while we prayed. After the chanting, we all lined up to the casket and took a last look in at the body. We then burned joss paper. Incense was also lit at one point.

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SmashTheState's avatar

My family is poor, and we aren’t big on tradition. When my mother died, we just had a funeral which lasted about an hour, less than a dozen guests (most of whom were just polite co-workers of my brother), and no one except my father and I to speak, which took less than ten minutes. When I die, there won’t even be that. I want no funeral or service of any kind. I don’t want a bunch of people who couldn’t stand me when I was alive weeping crocodile tears at a half-ass ceremony I won’t even be there to sneer at.

Blueroses's avatar

First; I’m so sorry for your loss and I hope you’re bearing up under the sadness of the first Holiday season without your mother.

My family has been divided on funeral procedures. The Catholic side has 2 days of viewing in the chapel with family members taking it in shifts to receive the condolences while the rest of the family gets drunk and shares memories in the grand Irish tradition.

My mother had intensely disliked the idea of being stared at in a casket, so we had her cremated immediately and held a small memorial party a month later in the mountains that she loved. We had small glass vials for anybody who wanted to take a part of her ashes to keep or to spill in one of the many places she had visited in her life. That is what I wish for myself too.

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