A funeral service often involves a visitation or viewing before the service. This is a time when family and friends can come together and express sympathy. Many visitations are open to any person who knew the deceased. Some are more private. Respect the family’s wishes. If you aren’t invited to the visitation, you shouldn’t take it personally. Visitations and viewings are typically held at funerals home in Ottawa, but they may also be held in a home or religious place of worship.
How to Act at a Visitation
The etiquette is similar to what you’d expect at the funeral or cremation service. You should dress solemnly, preferably in pale or dark colors, unless the family wishes otherwise. The mood is usually serious and formal. Put your cell phone on silent. Don’t take pictures. There will probably be a guest book to sign. You can bring a condolence note with you. There may a table set up for notes and cards. Don’t expect the family to open it while you’re there. The casket may be in the room. At a viewing, it will probably be open for loved ones to pay their last respects. If you’re taking younger children to the visitation, explain things to them ahead of time.
What to Say to the Family
If the family doesn’t know you, introduce yourself. Keep your voice low. You may want to share how you knew the deceased and what the person meant to you. Express sympathy but do it gently. Now is not the time for drama. Keep in mind that you want to comfort the family. The family shouldn’t need to comfort you. If you get upset, step out of the room. Avoid the urge to ramble on. Most people only stay 15 to 20 minutes at a visitation, so don’t worry about leaving too soon. Before you leave, reiterate to the family how much you care and want to support them through this difficult time.