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If you’ve lost a loved one you might have the opportunity to say goodbye to them at a chapel of rest. It’s natural to have questions about what to expect. Here we’ll take you through what the chapel of rest will look like, who can visit and how the funeral director can support you.

What is a chapel of rest?

A chapel of rest is a place where family and friends can go before the funeral to say goodbye to a loved one who’s passed away. It’s often a room or building that’s part of a funeral home. It’s a private space where you can view the person who’s died and sit with them to pay your respects.

Not all funeral homes have a chapel of rest. If you know you’d like to have some quiet time visiting the person who has died, make sure you choose a funeral director who can arrange this for you.

What does a chapel of rest look like?

Not all chapels of rest will look the same. But they all have similarities. They’ll usually have a stand where the coffin will be placed. This is called a catafalque. There may also be some seats or benches where visitors can sit. Heavy curtains will be drawn across any windows so that you have privacy too.

What to expect at a chapel of rest?

Your funeral director will always do their best to make you aware of what to expect at a chapel of rest. To ease your nerves speak to the funeral director beforehand about what your loved one looks like. And ask them for support when you go into the room if you need to. They’ll make the room as comfortable as possible for you and other family members. It’ll be a quiet, private room so that you can say goodbye in the way that you feel most comfortable with.

Can you touch someone in the chapel of rest?

When visiting someone in a chapel of rest it’s normal to want to hold their hand or touch their hair. Usually this is completely fine unless the funeral director tells you otherwise. If you’re unsure just ask.

Can you take photos in the chapel of rest?

You can take photos in the chapel of rest as long as you have permission from the next of kin or people organising the funeral. Check again when you visit the chapel of rest to make sure it’s okay. The last thing you want to do is cause anyone distress.

Can you talk at a chapel of rest?

Yes, you can talk in a chapel of rest. You may want to say goodbye to the person who’s passed away. Or you may want to speak with other family members while you’re there. Just be mindful of how other people in the room may be feeling. They may want to sit peacefully. Try to keep that in mind if you want to speak.

Who can visit the chapel of rest?

Can anyone go to the chapel of rest? The next of kin or person who’s organising the funeral will let you know if you can visit the person who’s died. They may decide only family should visit. But there are no restrictions on who can visit legally. If you’d like to pay your respects and aren’t immediate family then check with the person organising the funeral or contact the funeral director to see what’s appropriate.

When can you visit the chapel of rest?

You can usually expect to visit the chapel of rest a few days before the funeral. But you’ll need to contact the funeral director to arrange a time. If you ask the funeral director in advance you might be able to visit your loved one more than once before the funeral.

Should I go to the chapel of rest?

Choosing to go to the chapel of rest is a very personal decision. You might decide it’s not the way you’d like to remember your loved one. On the other hand, visiting the person who has died could help you grieve. It’s completely up to you. Speak to your funeral director if you’re unsure. They can tell you what to expect which may help you make your decision.

Poppa 3   Alicias story
"It’s a nice thing to do, to have that one last private moment before the funeral"

Photo by Eli Solitas on Unsplash.