A viewing, or visitation, is an opportunity for survivors and friends to view the deceased in private usually in a special room within the funeral home.
Part of the positive perspective of viewing is in its social dimension. Viewing is seen as a gathering of family and friends. One shares one’s pain with family and friends and gains a sense of belonging.
Family and friends are a source of support for the bereaved. It is important to the friend to give support because of the value of friendship. It is important for the bereaved to experience the support in order to grow through the grieving process and feel a sense of self worth and dignity.
Part of the positive perspective of viewing lies in the grieving aspects of viewing. For example, sadness is also present at a viewing. This intensifies the emotions of the grieving process, sometimes along with a feeling of impending loss of control.
The body within the casket, when it looks nice and restful, communicates an air of serenity and tranquility. This is important because of the love had for the deceased, a belief in God and eternal life, as well as the resulting peace of mind that comes from the conclusion of the grieving process.
A viewing allows the living to pay their last respects to the deceased. These last respects are important – they allow the person to remember a worthy person. Feelings of self-worth, dignity, love, God and peace of mind are stirred.
The controversy with viewing comes over whether the casket should be open or closed and whether the body looks natural or dead. Those who favor a closed casket do not want to see the body looking dead; they want to remember the worthy person. For these people, a dead body cheapens that worth.
However, those who are in favor of an open casket also want to see the body looking natural – this enhances their memories of a worthy person. Remembering a worthy person is important because of the feelings or values of self-worth/dignity, love, God and peace of mind.
See also: muslim funeral services