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While families sometimes choose to skip the viewing, it plays an important role in grieving. A viewing or visitation provides time for those who are grieving to gather together and support each other. And since the body is present at a viewing, family members and friends can see their loved one, say goodbye in person, and accept the reality of the death, which is an essential step in the grieving process.

As you prepare for the viewing, you’ll need to bring clothing, accessories, and makeup for the deceased. While your funeral director can give you more details on what they need, here are a few things to remember.


Navy blue suit jacket as a piece of clothing for a viewing

There are plenty of factors to consider when choosing clothing for the viewing. Traditionally, the deceased is often dressed in their “Sunday best” suit or dress, but as times have changed, this aspect of the viewing has become more personalized. If your loved one didn’t express their wishes about the choice of clothing ahead of time, consider their religious and cultural background, favorite pieces of clothing, and interests.

Some religions and cultures have guidelines or traditions surrounding the deceased’s clothing, whether a particular outfit or a specific color. If your loved one was a person of faith, talk with their religious leader about typical funeral customs and requirements for a viewing. Additionally, if your loved one had a strong connection to their culture, you can opt for a traditional garment.

To create a more personal visitation, you can also choose clothing that was meaningful to your loved one. Did they have a favorite sports jersey they always wore? Were they a dancer who had a favorite tuxedo or dress? Did you always see them wearing their favorite leather jacket or sweater? If they were a member of the military, would they want to have their uniform on? These personal touches to your loved one’s outfit can help create a more meaningful experience.

As you gather clothing for your loved one, remember to include undergarments, shoes, and socks. While funeral homes often have these items on hand, providing them will make things easier for your funeral director.


Gold pearl earrings resting on white fabric

In addition to clothing, you can provide accessories for the viewing that your loved one typically wore. These small touches can help your loved one look more like themselves. If your loved one always wore glasses, a wig, a hairpiece, or a bowtie, you can include those items when you bring the clothing.

Jewelry is another item to consider. Did your mom have a favorite pair of earrings? Did your dad always wear his class ring? If they were a service member, do they have military decorations you can include? Keep in mind that hanging jewelry, like necklaces or earrings, may look different on someone who is lying down.

After the viewing, you can also request that these items be returned, especially if they are meaningful to your family. Whether you provide your loved one’s favorite watch or the bracelet they always wore, jewelry and other accessories can help make the visitation more meaningful.


makeup and eyeshadow palette with brushes and beauty blenders

While funeral homes will typically have their own makeup to use, every person has their own style, shades, and preferences regarding cosmetics. If your loved one regularly wore makeup, you may want to provide the funeral home with your loved one’s products for the mortuary cosmetologist to use while preparing the body for the viewing.

Additionally, it’s important to provide a reference photo of your loved one so the embalmer and the mortuary cosmetologist can accurately recreate your loved one’s hairstyle and makeup. Try to choose a current photo rather than an older one, and let your funeral director know of any specific requests you have.

As you gather the items for the viewing or visitation, consider your loved one’s preferences and talk to your funeral director about what you need to provide. They can give you ideas to make the viewing more personal and ensure no items are forgotten.

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