Should I go see mum in the Chapel of Rest next week?

Discussion in 'After dementia — dealing with loss' started by Ray96, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. Ray96

    Ray96 Registered User

    Sep 29, 2018
    #1 Ray96, Jun 26, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
    Mum passed 2 weeks ago, she will be ready for viewing next Tuesday, so that will have been three weeks after death, she was embalmed just over a week after passing, I'm told that's in fact quite late, since she is going into a vault where dad is.

    The undertakers have said that she is presentable but not what she was, so I imagine that she has changed somewhat having been kept on ice, so to speak, for so long. It is only me that wants to go see her before they close the coffin but so many of my friends say that it's best left alone, that I should remember her how she was alive, I'm now 50/50 as to whether I should go or not, with no support from anyone on this.

    I was with her when she died, she died at home, and I did in fact say my goodbyes that evening, she was with me a good 3 1/2 hours or so and was still warm, until the undertakers came at 2am, although there were paramedics here with me until almost 1am.

    So what should I do, part of me wants to say a final goodbye, part of me feels guilty about not going along to see her, but if she looks bad or really different in some way I will remember that picture in my mind for ever. I saw my dad when he was all laid out and he looked great, but that was the day after he died and was fresh, mum was with me and other relatives. I'm a bit in turmoil over this now and simply cannot decide what to do.
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hello @Ray98. Please accept my condolences.

    I was sure I wouldn't go to see my husband but something made me change my mind and I was very glad I did.

    Our son wasn`t sure either but once he heard of my experience decided he wanted to see his dad too and was also glad he did.

    My husband was embalmed soon after death and he looked lovely. In fact he looked better than he did when he was dying which was a big surprise to me.

    The undertakers have prepared you. You also saw your mum as she was dying and when she died. You are the only one who can make this decision.

    Either you will have regrets because you didn`t go to see her or you will be relieved.

    Either you will be relieved you did go or will have regrets.

    Is it really about how your mother will look? However she looks she will still be your mother.

    I sincerely hope you will be able to make the right decision for you.
  3. Ray96

    Ray96 Registered User

    Sep 29, 2018
    Thanks Grannie for that. All of a sudden I have two lady friends that say they will come with me if I decide to go, one will drive and the other said she will support me and come with me to view mum. Really sweet of them.
  4. Jaded'n'faded

    Jaded'n'faded Registered User

    Jan 23, 2019
    High Peak
    I'm really glad you have support - it must be a difficult decision.

    My mum is in a care home but when a friend's dad died recently and she (my friend) went through the same dilemma I also wondered about what I would do when the time comes. I think you have perfectly articulated the pros and cons! Maybe it depends on your previous relationship, maybe on how you feel on the day. It's a very personal thing so no one can say what is right for you.

    Whatever you decide, I wish you peace with your decision and I'm sure your mum would understand.
  5. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    hi @Ray96
    your final paragraph is worded in a way that may help you decide
    you mention feeling guilty, and that's very different from regret ... if you choose not to see your mum now there's no guilt involved, it's simply a choice personal to you, there is no ought or should or must ... you were with your mum throughout so have shown your love and respect during her life and at her death
    for me, there is no final goodbye, maybe a gradual farewell as my life continues and I carry memories of my parents with me
  6. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    It's a deeply personal decision, and I'm not sure I can advise you. Personally, I wish I hadn't. It was so final and I hated seeing him so lifeless. But for some people it is a comfort. Only you can decide.
  7. Ray96

    Ray96 Registered User

    Sep 29, 2018
    Such kind and very helpful replies, thanks everyone. You really are wonderful people on here.
  8. Jale

    Jale Registered User

    Jul 9, 2018
    I'm not sure if there is a right or wrong answer - I went to see my Dad the day before the funeral and he had passed away 2 weeks previous. I felt I had to see him because I would never see him again and I wasn't with him when he died. He was the first dead person I had ever seen and I was worried that it may not look like him but he looked so peaceful because his pain had gone (he hadn't got dementia) it did bring some comfort.

    Whatever you decide to do must be the right decision for you, it is nice that friends have said they will go with you, I'm not sure I would have coped going on my own.

    Take care x
  9. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    It’s a very personal decision. I had a close relationship with my mother and brother and wanted to remember them in life and not in death. I held my brothers hand as he was in intensive care and he mouthed “I love you”. After that everything would have been a downward move so I left it and held on to that last memory. I was abroad when Mum died and by the time I got back the undertaker advised against looking at her. You weigh it all up and do what feels right.
  10. Ohso

    Ohso Registered User

    Jan 4, 2018
    For me it was an odd feeling of 'unfinished' or 'finished' that may not the correct phrasing but closure sounds so trite as it is used for so many things.

    When a friends son died I needed to see him, it didnt matter to me what he looked like I just knew and so glad I went, he was 2, that was my first experience.

    When my dad died, at home, I sat with him, held his hand and told him I loved him, he stayed at home over night and the following morning I did the same, I never saw him again and it was the right decision for me, there was no 'need'

    When my husband died I had to identify him, even though he died in hospital and I was there when he passed, I am not sure why I had to to that but for me it was an official duty given the choice I wouldnt have seen him again after being on the ward with him, I didnt see him in the undertakers.

    When my brother died I had spent a week with him and although I was in the ward a\t the time, he was taken into a seperate room to be removed from life support, I felt I had said all my goodbyes and had no plans to see him again, unfortunately mum wanted to, so I took her to the funeral home to see him, she wanted me to go in with her, I wish I hadnt, not that he looked bad, he just didnt look like my brother and I am sad that I have that image in my head.

    My point is that somewhere inside you is the answer, and what is right today might not be right tomorrow so take your time, and see how you feel, how would you feel if you never took the chance to see her again, ever......if the thought of that is too awful then maybe seeing her is right, only you know how you feel in your heart. xxx
  11. DianeW

    DianeW Registered User

    Sep 10, 2013
    Lytham St Annes
    It’s such a very personal decision to make.....

    The first person I saw was my friends Mum, she looked peaceful and serene, I was just there for my friend so obviously not as emotionally connected.

    My own Mum was next and to me it wasn’t my Mum, I think because she had a wig on that I wasn’t used to, she had been through cancer treatment. I was glad I spent time with her, my sister was with me and struggled more so, I was happy to fix her clothing and hair etc, my sister telling me all the time not too because she was squeamish. We did have a little joke in the end when I said to my sister I would lift Mum a bit so she could straighten her clothes.......I didn’t mean it but we did chuckle afterwards at my sisters look of disgust thinking I meant it.
    She tells that story often, but it did lighten it for both of us.

    Lastly my Auntie who was like another Mum to me and she was like asleep.......again very peaceful looking and restful.

    On reflection the person for me has gone, yes their body is there but it just feels empty, it’s hard to explain...sorry

    Good luck with whatever you decide, if you do go i hope you feel some comfort.

    Oh and to reassure you, for me my memories are not of that final viewing, but all the other happy or sad times spent together. Yes like now I can go back to that final time, but it isn’t my first thought about the person when remembering them either.
  12. Kikki21

    Kikki21 Registered User

    Feb 27, 2016
    East Midlands
    As others have said, it is a very personal decision & no right or wrong answer. I was with my Dad when he died in hospital & my mum was with me & I decided not to see him again in the chapel of rest.
    I wasn’t with my mum when she passed away but I had been with her for a lot of hours in hospital in her final week & the decline was rather awful to see & I think seeing her in the chapel of rest would not have done me any good. I prefer to remember her as she was before she went into hospital. It’s good that you have support at this sad time, that is really important.
  13. Duggies-girl

    Duggies-girl Registered User

    Sep 6, 2017
    I went to see my mum although I didn't want to and she had always told me that she didn't want anyone to see her after she died so I would have respected her wishes. My dad wanted me to see her and it seemed important to him so I went for his sake and mum looked lovely. In fact I went twice with him because he wanted to see her again.

    I wish that I hadn't because of my mum's wishes but at the time I had to consider dad. We were both with her when she died and said our goodbyes then so I would have been happy with that but it was important to dad.

    I would go with what your gut feeling, there are no right or wrong, it is up to what you feel is right for you.
  14. Ray96

    Ray96 Registered User

    Sep 29, 2018
    Thanks again everyone for all your support and advice, it's likely now that I will go to see mum next Tuesday. My biggest worry is that she will have been in the mortuary for three weeks by then, I know that she has been embalmed, but three weeks just seems like such a long time to store a body.

    The funeral directors have advised me by email that the embalmer has made her "visible" and can be viewed but to not expect her to look like before she passed away, well I know that she will look different, I imagine a little extra work had to be done due to the fact that she was embalmed rather late.

    One of mums carers who would wash mum and change her and bedding etc that we were particularly close to, an African lady from Guyana who was very close to both me and mum in the last year or so of this journey, called me late yesterday to tell me that I must go, that mum is waiting for me and that I will never get the chance again to see her once the coffin is shut. I felt that she was probably right so chances are that I will be going now.
  15. nita

    nita Registered User

    Dec 30, 2011
    I saw my mother after 3 weeks in the funeral parlour. I am afraid I got a bit upset as, although the funeral director said to me "she didn't look too bad" (rather an insensitive remark, I thought), her expression was not quite what I expected and it didn't look like her, something was missing and her expression wasn't quite "her". As @DianeW said, it is just the body of the person and the spirit has gone. My mother always told me not to go and see anyone who had died and I think I should have heeded her.

    On the other hand, although I now have that memory, lots of happier memories still come to mind.
  16. Ray96

    Ray96 Registered User

    Sep 29, 2018
    Hi Nina
    Yes I'm pretty sure that it will be an upsetting experience for me too, but it's still mum so it will be the last time that I will be able to see her and spend some time with her, I keep telling myself that and it sort of gives me a bit of extra courage.

    I had a dream last night, a bit confusing, something about school exams that I missed. Then there were these trollies like they have in hospital and I was told that someone had just been cremated, it seemed that it was my mum.
    So I thought, I must have got there too late to see her and I was fine with that in a strange way. Then I went into this room and there was my mum, lying there in what seemed to be some sort of swimming costume, looking quite well in fact almost alive and about 40 years younger too, she was covered in a very thin layer of plastic wrap type of stuff. And then I woke up.
    Such a strange dream.

    Anyway, two of my oldest lady friends are going to be coming along with me on Tuesday, we sorted all the details out this afternoon, one is driving, then I'm taking them for a meal. So I will be going, in fact they will be closing the coffin on Wednesday morning.
  17. Marnie63

    Marnie63 Registered User

    Dec 26, 2015
    I saw mum six weeks after her death (morning of funeral), and she looked fine still. She also had to be transported from my locality to an FD in the area where she was buried with dad, so was not embalmed for a while. I went several times. Her face remained the same throughout, but her fingers were a bit thinner the last visit. I never went alone. I had no issues going to see her at the FD, but I found it too hard to do alone, so you are wise to take some friends with you @Ray96. The six weeks by the way were because my chosen priest was on holiday during that time.

    I found it helpful to see mum on the morning of the funeral, though I hadn't planned it for that reason. I went with two friends, one who'd been with me before, the other who'd come from overseas for the funeral, who insisted on going with us. She found it hard, but I'm glad she came with us. It's a very touching thing for friends to do, and will remain with me forever. We stayed a while, then they left me alone with mum for a few mins (I was brave enough for that!). I gave her a last kiss, then one of the funeral people came in and asked if I wanted him to seal the coffin. He did it in front of me, and it gave me comfort to see that - that I knew it was done properly and that I knew how she looked that final time. When they picked us all up from the hotel and swung round to the FD's office, and they drove mum out in the hearse, I was more 'relaxed' as I'd already been to see her that morning and seen the coffin being closed. It certainly helped me. I also think that when we face up to something in life (ie. death) it makes it less frightening. It's not for everyone, but seeing something that you often wonder about has made death less frightening for me, generally.
  18. Ray96

    Ray96 Registered User

    Sep 29, 2018
    Thanks there Marnie63, you have given me an extra boost in my confidence that I am doing the right thing. In fact I did view both my dad and uncle just after they passed away and was there when they closed the coffin, although I couldn't actually watch when it was being sealed up, their funerals were very soon after they died though and no embalming was done. This is why I feel now that it's the right thing to do, for me anyway, and I was much closer to mum.

    Funny thing happened late last night, I remembered mums glasses, she always wore them so I wanted to put them on her when I go tomorrow. Strange thing is I can't find them anywhere.
  19. Ray96

    Ray96 Registered User

    Sep 29, 2018
    Just to let you all know that I went to see mum today. She looked just like her old self and sleeping, in fact I was quite amazed to see her looking almost alive. Spent about half an hour there, I'm glad I went along to say my final goodbyes.
  20. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    I never realised how good embalming was for giving close family a comforting final memory. I was pleased I went to see my husband and @Ray96 I am glad it was the same for you.

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