Posted on September 29, 2015 by Rachel Zeldin
A viewing or visitation gives family and friends a place and time to gather, grieve, and console one another. But what is the difference between them?
A "Viewing" is when the body is present in an open-casket.
At a "Visitation" the body may be present in a closed casket or not a at all.
Choosing a visitation or viewing is a totally personal choice. If you choose to have a visitation or viewing, you can have it be a private, invite-only affair, or it can be a public one where all friends, family and community members are welcome to come to the viewing or visitation.
A viewing or visitation takes place before a formal funeral service. In the past, this often took place at the home over several days, giving friends and community members at place to gather and console one another. But these days the most common places to host them are at the funeral home or religious establishment. However, you can still host a viewing or visitation at home for 24-48 hours, depending on your state, which can be a deeply personal and healing affair. If this option appeals to you, you can read up about Home Funerals or reach out to a Home Funeral Guide for additional advice on topic.
These days, with busy schedules and increasing funeral costs, many choose to have either a viewing or visitation in the evening and then again the next morning followed by a funeral service, or have everything on one day. This is especially true if you are hiring a funeral home since you pay for the use their staff and space.
Tip: If you are looking to save money, having the viewing or visitation at home or on the same day as the funeral service often cuts the cost of the funeral by several hundred dollars.