In most cases it will be possible to visit the person who has died in the chapel of rest before the funeral and say your last goodbyes. Some people find this helps them come to terms with the death, especially if it was unexpected.
It is entirely up to you if you wish to visit the body or not; at the time of arrangement, a S Smith & Sons Funeral Directors funeral arranger will discuss this to help you make the right decision for you. They will agree a suitable day and time for you to visit, this is usually a couple of days before the funeral ceremony, once all of the legal documentation has been completed by the doctors or coroner.
Once the coffin or casket has been decided upon, you will be asked to choose what you would like the person who has died to be dressed in. This could be their own clothes or one of our range of gowns which complement the style of coffin or casket. If you choose own clothes, we would need a full complement, (including underwear). Shoes may also be worn for visiting but may need to be removed at the final stage before cremation depending upon the material – your arranger will advise you.
All the people entrusted into our care are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. Prior to being placed in the coffin or casket, they will be washed, shaved, dressed, their features set and hair styled, regardless of whether visiting is to take place or not.
However, if you do wish to visit the person who has died in the chapel of rest, we would strongly recommend hygienic treatment, commonly known as embalming. This is for three reasons:
Presentation – so the skin tone can be restored and enhance the appearance. Preservation – to slow down the deterioration process which naturally occurs to the body. Prevention – to stop the spread of infection or contamination to both yourselves and our team members.
Hygienic treatment is a highly skilled procedure carried out by fully trained professionals; your funeral arranger can talk you through the process in more detail if you wish.
If you can provide us with a photograph of the person who has died, we can try our best to style their hair as they would have worn it, and for ladies we can apply make up.
Visiting someone in the chapel of rest may be a daunting experience, especially if you have not been through the experience before. You do not have to go through this alone; we are happy to accompany you into the chapel and stay with you as long as you like. During your visit you may wish to place items into the coffin such as letters, cards, teddy bears, flowers, poems or personal items. This is absolutely fine, the items will then remain in the coffin when it is closed and stay with the person who has died for the rest of their journey.
In some cases, the person who has died may be referred to HM Coroner for further investigation. This is usually if the death is unexpected, due to an accident or surrounded by suspicious circumstances. If a person has not been treated by a GP or hospital in the 14 days prior to death, then they will automatically be referred to the Coroner. Sometimes a post mortem may take place to determine the cause of death; if this occurs you will be fully informed by the Coroner’s Officer and we can answer any questions you may have. A post mortem will not alter the appearance of the person who has died or prevent them from being prepared in the same way.
Religious wash and dress
If as part of your religion you would like to wash and dress the person who has died yourself, this can be arranged. We can organise a suitable day and time for you to have exclusive access to our facilities and provide any necessary assistance.