When you have lost a loved one, there is so much to do to prepare for the burial and funeral. If you can summon the emotional fortitude to handle the arrangements, the first thing you need to do is call a funeral home. The funeral home will ask a few questions, and then begin the rest of the preparations. Here is what is typical of this process, and what is not.
The Retrieval of the Body
After the coroner has finished with the autopsy, the body is placed back into a refrigerated drawer until the funeral home comes to claim it. Your funeral home will send a hearse to collect your relative's body. When the body returns to the funeral home, it is prepared for the viewing. At this point, the funeral home will request clothing from you for the viewing. You can bring whatever clothing you like that is appropriate to the occasion and/or for which the deceased wanted to wear for his/her funeral. The body will be washed, dressed, and groomed, with arms and hands posed as requested. A less typical occurrence is rubbing the body with perfumed oils, burning frankincense or myrrh, and/or not preparing the body with preservatives for religious reasons.
Choosing a Casket
Your next step, or the step that can be completed while you wait for the coroner to release your relative's body, is choosing a casket. ( If your loved one wanted cremation instead, then you will choose an urn.) Then the funeral home places the body of the deceased carefully in the casket (or prepares the body for cremation). Now the body is ready for viewing.
A less typical situation is knowing that your relative paid for a casket in advance, and has already chosen the method of burial. Paying for a burial plot or an entombment long before death is also unusual. However, if your relative had prepared in advance for his or her death, that removes a lot of the choices you will have to make at this emotional time.
Holding a Viewing
The funeral home will hold a viewing within three days of your relative's passing. The less typical ceremony is to skip the viewing completely, and hold a funeral service at the burial plot or entombment. After the viewing, the body is held in a cool, dry place in the casket until the burial or entombment the following day.