Mortuary Musing
a mortuary science student's perspective on the study of the dead

A Mourning of Lost Time

The other day I went with a friend to a visitation. I originally had no knowledge or any intention of attending a visitation that day, but my friend wanted to make a quick stop at a Free Methodist Evangelist Church where the visitation was being held. Since we were already in the area, and my friend said the stop won’t be one second longer than 10 minutes I figured okay.

Showing up to a visitation where you do not know a single person does give you a feeling of slight awkwardness. Worse is I was showing up for a visitation wearing a dirty t-shirt, kaki shorts and sandals, but then I reminded myself that this was a small Midwestern town. I probably looked normal for a person showing up for church or a visitation. If I had some screaming children with me to smack around I probably would fit in perfectly with the people from that town. Just hand me a cold beer and I will yell “Junior, don’t make me whip your butt!” in front of everyone.

Well the supposedly 10-minute stop turned out to last over one hour thanks to how the funeral home set up the visitation. You walk inside the church and the funeral director has you sit down with a certain row of strangers until it was your turn to get up and go see the family. My friend and I sat on the chair for approximately 25 minutes, which I won’t complain because it did beat waiting outside in the hot sun with the heat index of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. But the visitation was like going through an assembly line in a factory. You walk in a church, sit down on the chairs and wait your turn. Then when it is finally your time, you move to the back room and wait in a single-file line. You see the family, you see the urn and then you see the exit doors. Goodbye. Hope you enjoyed little Johnny Boy’s visitation. Please don’t look for a time clock to punch out when you exit those doors.

There was no life at the visitation (no pun intended). It was absent of people walking around and socializing with each other. A person could literally hear a needle drop. The entire time my friend and I were stuck seated next to people we didn’t know. Of course I didn’t know anybody at the visitation, but most likely people will feel more comfortable talking or sharing stories with other people that they know. Not every person is outgoing and social able with strangers. And my friend and I were there longer than we wanted to be. With no disrespect to the deceased, the visitation was extremely dull and boring. Visitations should be full of life and not dead like the decease.


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