Accompanying the Viewing

Fundamental points:
Saying goodbye to the corpse of a deceased person is a substantial stage of the grief process. Often pathological grief with lasting negative effects for the bereaved can be prevented.
Taking leave can only, however, be provided as an offer to close relatives and partners and requires sensitive support. Any concept of consideration can only be applied to the bereaved in respect of themselves and must be accepted. It may not come from an external source.


  • Do not plan to help alone.
  • Discuss the procedure in advance with the authorities (police).
  • Only offer to help if you feel able to handle it.
  • Keep un-requested witnesses, members of the press and curious onlookers away from the site.
  • Seek to observe dignified external circumstances.
  • If possible, view the corpse first without the bereaved.
  • The corpse should be laid on its back with hands at the side and eyes closed.
  • Ensure that any traces of medical measures have been removed (resuscitation tubes, ECG electrodes, medical access devices, traces of blood etc.)

Taking leave:

  • Encourage the family to take leave together and fundamentally: leave children with their parents.
  • Prepare them for what they will see / touch. Let them know what they can do.
  • Respect spontaneously expressed needs (the bereaved, especially children, have a very sure idea of how much they can cope with spiritually).

The bereaved are taking their leave from someone whom they still have in immediate memory as a living person. They need time for this confrontation, the duration of which only they can determine.
It is often the case that the bereaved only fully realize the news of death when they see the dead person. In this case, reactions of the most varied kind are possible (crying, screaming, aggression, silence, etc.)
A lack of concentration occurs: arrangements are forgotten etc.

The administration of sedatives (Diazepam, Valium etc.) should be avoided. Such medication does not alter the cause of grief but increases the impression of being “not fully present” or experiencing everything “like a dream”.

Seek relief from your own strain (e.g. by talking with someone you can trust).