Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Recently I was honored with sitting with a family to plan the arrangements for a family member. The topic of the “visitation” came up, they asked what they should do. I responded with, “what would you like to do?” and in turn, they responded with… “what is traditional?”
Well, what is “traditional” I ask you?  Who’s tradition? Yours? Mine?  WHOS? You see, my experience is that tradition differs from family to family. Not race, not religion, not side of town you were raised on or what kind of car you drive.
Now, the only TRADITION I usually see is the tradition of the funeral home recommending you use the maximum amount of time in his facility that will bring more revenue to his business.
I have seen visitations last 12 hours in a facility which many funeral homes love to offer because that is also a great deal of revenue for the facility. Then again I have seen other facilities allow families a ½ hour private family visitation prior to the scheduled visitation. This is what we do at Avenidas.
I have been asked by families if they can just have an hour visitation prior to the service. Then they get charged for the “minimum” three hours as per the price list. Why? (you only used one hour)
If it is your desire to have a simple one hour visitation prior to a chapel service consider including a chapel service half way thru your three hour visitation service, concluding with the last hour as a closing visitation. Tell the funeral arranger/director that you do not want a chapel service, just the three hour visitation and that you do not need their assistance for a chapel service. There is no reason why you should not be allowed to do this; you are the one renting the facility for a three hour time period witch just so happens to be called a VISITATION. Use it as you see fit. If they choose not to accommodate you, ask why not and if they refuse to accommodate, then it is all about the money. Consider moving on.
Now, why do we have a visitation?  Some like the idea to say goodbye. It has been my experience that this is very important for younger people who are just starting to comprehend what life and death is, and assists them in understanding or bringing them aware of mortality.
Some individuals are just morbidly intrigued by looking at and observing the presence of a dead body. As uncomfortable as this may sound, the reality of it is, is that this does exist.
Then there are those that wish to say goodbye. See the person for the last time and face the reality that they are gone.
Then there is probably the biggest reason of all, because the funeral director/arranger convinces you that you NEED to do this for closure.  Well, what is closure? Accepting the fact that the deceased is gone. 
If you spend time with a living individual and one day they are no more because they have passed, trust me, this is called death and at that moment you will know what closure is and how YOU will find your own closure with the deceased. In death we mourn and grieve, and we all do this in our own way. We do not need a person dressed in a nice suit telling us what we need to do to mourn and rack up charges so they can have nice clothes and take an annual cruise to the Bahamas.
So why visitation? Because you want to, that is the only reason why. If your family is trying to decide on whether to have a visitation or not and the director just sits in the room with you and stares around at everyone making you feel uncomfortable, this is not because they care. The only thing they care about is you making THEIR right decision that puts more money into THEIR pocket.

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