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When someone you love dies, you’ll usually be asked if you’d like to go and see them in the chapel of rest. It’s completely normal to feel unsure if this is the right decision for you. Some people find comfort in seeing their loved one again and sharing some final moments with them. Others prefer to remember them as they were. 

It’s completely your choice – try to do what feels right for you. To help you decide, we’ve spoken to professionals in the funeral industry, as well as people who’ve visited their own loved ones in the chapel of rest, to share a range of opinions.  

What a grief specialist says 

“The answer to this question is going to be different for everybody. A benefit of viewing someone in the chapel of rest is that it can help you to accept the reality of their passing. Especially if their passing was unexpected. You can see for yourself that they’re no longer alive. There’s power in that as part of the healing process. If they’d been ill, it can also help to see them peaceful and out of pain. 

“Conversely, if the person’s death was the result of an injury, violence or some sort of trauma, visiting them could be counterproductive. This is where you might want to listen to what the funeral directors are telling you. If the funeral director advises that you don’t open the casket, it’s usually an informed recommendation. Sometimes, it’s better for you to remember the person as they were in life. 

“If you’re not sure, you might want to send someone who knows you well to check for you. They can go in first and say whether they think it’s a good idea for you to see them or not. This is always an option.”

- Carole Henderson, Grief Specialist 


Steph on visiting her mom in the chapel of rest

“The funeral home gave me the opportunity to go and see her body. I did go and do it. I don’t regret it at all. I would’ve preferred to be there at the moment she passed, but I couldn’t be. I knew that she’d passed away, but going to see her gave me closure. I had to see her one more time to know that she had definitely gone."

Practical notes from a mortuary professional 

“When someone who’s passed away is in our care, we check on them every couple of hours. Then we can advise families and friends on whether we think they should see the person in the chapel of rest or not. We can’t ever tell anyone they can’t see their loved one. All we can do is advise as time goes on as to whether we think it’s a good idea or not. 

“If people are travelling from overseas and will be visiting the chapel of rest days or weeks after the person has passed away, we do advise people to consider embalming the body. We also advise that the body is embalmed if lots of people are going to be visiting, or if family and friends want to visit every day. This is because the body will face temperature changes as we move the person in and out of the cooling units and into the room temperature of the chapel of rest. 

“We also recommend that if lots of people are visiting, or close family and friends are visiting regularly, that people are very careful when touching the person who’s passed away. Skin becomes very fragile, so we advise against touching the person’s skin repeatedly. 

“There’s no one answer, or clear right or wrong, when it comes to whether you should visit your loved one once they’ve passed away. We find a lot of people are glad that they went and viewed the body. But everyone’s different. Some people go in and wish they hadn’t. Some people don’t go in and have regrets later down the line, wishing they had taken the opportunity. It’s all down to the individual, their beliefs and what comforts them.” 

- Tracey McCabe, Mortuary Assistant 

Poppa 2   Alicias story

Alicia on visiting her grandfather in the chapel of rest

“We all took our drinks for one last drink and sat in the room and just spoke. We didn’t have the coffin open – we had it closed – but I don’t think anything can prepare you for looking at a coffin. If you feel up to it it’s a nice thing to do, to have that one last private moment before the funeral. We spent a few hours chatting and laughing and crying – hats off to the funeral director for putting up with us for so long.”

Should I bring children to the chapel of rest? 

“When it comes to children visiting the chapel of rest, the decision is down to the parents. There’s no age restriction on who goes in. When my mom passed away, my two granddaughters visited her and even helped to do her makeup for the funeral. They were very comfortable with it. We’ve had some situations where children have gone in and felt scared, cried, screamed or wanted to leave. As a parent, chances are you’ll know your child and what’s best for them. If you want your child to view someone, we - the funeral directors and funeral home staff – can help explain what they’re going to see and prepare them to go in.” 

- Tracey McCabe, Mortuary Assistant


These are just a few opinions on visiting a loved one in the chapel of rest. Hopefully, they've given you some insight into what to expect and will help you consider whether it's something that could help you during this time. If you're unsure, it's always worth asking your funeral director. They’ll be able to have a discussion with you and make a recommendation based on your individual circumstances.

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