There's a very basic truth we'd like to share with you: funeral visitations are, for many grieving family members, a most profound experience. And we're not saying this lightly, without cause; after all, we've had the privilege of witnessing the power of the funeral visitation firsthand. In fact, it's very common to have surviving family members and many of their guests, tell us how wonderful it was to have this time together; how their loved one's visitation was a uniquely special. How it was a very intimate time where stories were recounted, sweet memories shared; and both laughter and tears offer them welcomed emotional release. As we've said, no matter what you call it, a funeral visitation can be a very rewarding experience. But if you're unfamiliar with the visitation experience, it may help to learn exactly what we mean when we use the word.
A visitation, an event which is also known as a viewing, calling hours, a reviewal, or a wake (depending on what part of North America you're living in), is a time set aside so that family members and friends can pay their respects to both the grieving family and the deceased.
The prominent presence of the casketed body provides everyone in attendance the opportunity to view the personally say their words of farewell. (Although viewing the deceased is certainly not required, we have witnessed how much it can help in the overall acceptance of the fact of a loved one's death–which is an essential task within the grieving process.)
The viewing of the deceased is only one small part of what takes place at this event. In fact, the remaining activities (the engaging conversation, story-telling, memory sharing, hugging; the tears and the laughter) all play a major part of the restorative 'magic' of a funeral visitation. Often, families and guests tell us that when they stepped into the room that afternoon; they felt a lifting of their spirit–simply by the healing power of expressive, compassionate companionship.
The short answer to that question is "anyone". Whether you've arranged for traditional burial in one of our local cemeteries, or if you've chosen cremation, you can also make arrangements for a visitation. In all honesty; selecting cremation doesn't limit your ceremonial options in any way. Not only could you have a visitation before the scheduled cremation; you could also make arrangements for a funeral (held after the visitation and prior to cremation). Or, in addition to the visitation; you may prefer to hold a memorial service after the cremation occurs. Fortunately, you don't have to make all these decisions alone; when you sit down with a licensed member of our staff, you'll explore all the possibilities. But if you have any questions right now–about funeral visitations or anything else you've read on our website–call us at 708-532-5400. Let's now take a closer look at the features, healing qualities and profoundly personal experiences common to a visitation held here at Colonial Chapel.
Visitations here commonly occur in the late afternoon and evening, between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 9 p.m. In this way– a six-hour event, held later in the day–most everyone will be able to attend, despite their busy daytime schedules. We prepare for each funeral visitation by baking three dozen cookies (of three different types); which will later be served to family members and guests. Everyone in attendance will also be able to choose from a wide selection of liquid refreshments, including coffee (offered with their choice of delicious creamers); and assorted teas (including black, green, and herbal).
We ask the family of the deceased to arrive an hour earlier, at 2:00 p.m.; which gives them private time with their loved one, prior to the arrival of the first guest. We've long realized this is a very special time; and everything we do in preparation for this private visitation is intended to make each of these sixty minutes noteworthy and memorable. It's during this time that we first present their loved one's Tribute Video, which will also be shown to guests throughout the visitation.
We'd also like you to know that when your family makes arrangements with us for a funeral service to be held in one of our local churches, we will handle all the necessary details for your loved one's casket to lie-in-repose there, for an hour before the service. This period of lying-in-repose is somewhat more formal and is, of course, without the refreshments served at the visitation held in our funeral home. Yet, these additional minutes of visitation can be as restorative, enriching and healing as those spent in the funeral visitation held earlier.
These periods of visitation, whether held at Colonial Chapel or during the time of lying-in-repose prior to the funeral service; provides comfort, camaraderie, and support to the bereaved family. Everything that happens there–from viewing of the casketed body to sharing of entertaining stories and happy memories–is an act of generosity; and we all know how good such kindness feels–to everyone involved. What did the ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi (also known as Lao Tzu) write? "Kindness in giving creates love.” And love is exactly what's needed at times like these.
And without doubt; during a Colonial Chapel funeral visitation–when a grieving family member is surrounded by his or her friends, neighbors and co-workers–there's a strengthening of the emotional and social ties between them. This reinforced awareness of the true extent of their support network can serve mourners very well in the months following the death of their loved one.
We've also seen how a visitation event (either the one held at the funeral home, or that time of lying-in-repose at the church) can also be a very personal experience; one where attendees are gently reminded of the finite, impermanent nature of all living things. This, in turn, can reinforce their appreciation of life, making their hearts lighter, and every day just a bit brighter.
We believe it's easy to see how a visitation can make a significant difference in the early days of bereavement for grieving survivors. Who can't see how time spent in compassionate camaraderie, surrounded by one's loving friends and family; can support, nurture and enrich the lives of everyone in attendance? If you'd like to explore the functions, dynamics and healing potential of a funeral visitation held at Colonial Chapel, we ask you call us at 708-532-5400. We look forward to the conversation.