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Bereavement due to traumatic death

Viewing the body

Many people hear about their relative's death from police at their door or when friends or relatives phone with the terrible news. Most people we talked to wanted to see their dead son, daughter, parent, partner or friend at once, but how soon they reached the hospital or the mortuary, and what happened next, varied greatly depending on how the person died and, to some extent, local practices.
 
Josefine and her husband Nicholas started the Natural Death Centre. After Nicholas died in a car crash she went to the hospital mortuary. She visited him for hours every day for three days.
 

Josefine chose to spend many hours with Nicholas in the hospital mortuary before the post-mortem....

Josefine chose to spend many hours with Nicholas in the hospital mortuary before the post-mortem....

Age at interview: 57
Sex: Female
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I don’t know how long we stayed actually, I think maybe two hours. And also we wanted, I wanted to touch Nicholas’s body, I didn’t want him with a wooden surround and covered up and everything and  you know, it was only hours ago he was alive, so why shouldn’t I want to be with him now that he was dead? And the other thing is he… he looked remarkable, like my mother who died a few months later, of cancer actually  and had only just been diagnosed three weeks before Nicholas died, she’d been diagnosed with cancer. She and Nicholas had this ecstatic look on their face, as if some orgasmic ecstasy had happened which also was a wonderful thing [laughter] you know, there wasn’t a scary impression, it was like an ecstatic expression on his face.
 
Were you left alone with him?
 
No we were all together but I actually, was I alone with him, but we went to see him for three days, every day.
 
You didn’t have to have a police officer there or?
 
No, no, no.
 
They left the family?
 
No they just left us [her and her friends], and also, yes. They made time for us, they were just so kind. I have one regret, that I didn’t bring a, I didn’t think of it, you know, [laughter] now I would  think a little bit better, I know a lot more now, but I should have brought a record player with me to play his particular Hari Krishna music to him, which he used as a way of meditation every morning, dancing naked around his room learning poetry by heart. And  this music is very beautiful and  I just felt it would have been, you see this is the other thing, this is just me and again the coroner was so kind, there needed to be an autopsy but I didn’t want his body interfered with until… I felt ready to let him go and I said to him “Look we have Buddhists  belief and we don’t want the body to be interfered with for three days” and he accepted it and so we had a sort of wake, for three days, we came every afternoon and spent , friends came also, spent time with his body in the room and you could feel his presence there. It was as if he was there in a way. And I left my scarf with his body somehow, because his head was bent backwards and I wanted it, and so I put my scarf under his head and by the third day I practically lay alongside this trolley with him, holding him, I was sort of getting used to, that his body was now cold and lifeless but was so familiar and, you know, it was important to be allowed to have that.
Jayne saw her husband soon after he died from stab wounds. She was allowed to stay with him in his room at the hospital for two or three hours. She was left alone and could talk to him, sing to him, and reassure him he wasn’t alone. The next day Jayne saw Jonathan in the mortuary. Viewing the body there felt very different.
 

After Jon died Jayne spent time alone with him in a hospital room. In the mortuary he was behind...

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After Jon died Jayne spent time alone with him in a hospital room. In the mortuary he was behind...

Age at interview: 44
Sex: Female
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And when they took me into Jon where Jon was laid out, you know he was in a room on his own and I think my over riding feeling was that I didn’t want Jon to be frightened, which obviously he would’ve been, because it was such a violent attack at the time, but it was just this feeling that you know somebody that I loved was dying and I didn’t want him to be on his own, so I stayed with Jon as long as I could until they told me that I had to leave him because they had to put Jon in a fridge. Which I knew they had to do, I knew it was limited the amount of time that I could stay with him, but I wanted to, I know it’s going to sound a bit silly, but I think the over riding feeling was that I wanted to share, I can’t say share what he was experiencing but be there with him so that he wasn’t on his own, so I talked to him a lot, and I reassured him that he wasn’t on his own, and sang to him. I got up on the bed with him and held his hand, and you know tried to be his wife I suppose, that he wasn’t completely on his own with this experience. And until I had to leave him, I left and that was the most difficult part. Having to leave him at the hospital and knowing what was going to happen to him, because I knew he was going to have to have a post mortem, I knew that.
 
Did you go back and see him again?
 
The next day we went to the mortuary but it was a very different experience. I wanted to be in a room with him, and I wanted to be able to touch him, and when we got to the mortuary he was behind a glass screen and the police who were with us said to me that Jon’s behind a glass screen and that I couldn’t go in the room, and at that, at that point I can remember feeling completely overwhelmed and terrified by what was taking place, and then screaming.
 
Did they tell you why you couldn’t go in?
 
Well they told me it was for health and safety reasons. They still do it, I know they still practice this because I’ve heard, because of the work that I’ve done since. I think it’s because the body’s evidence, and different mortuaries have different practices and different facilities for families. It was a very small, I can remember it, I mean it can be completely different if I revisited it, but it was a very small corridor, very, very narrow and I wanted to go in there on my own, because a part of what I needed was to be on my own with Jon, to have that intimacy with him, and they wouldn’t let me go into the corridor on my own, which I think escalated, escalated or exaggerated the feelings that I had, because I remember standing in that corridor with the police by my side screaming my head off. And Jon was laid out, and they’d put like a purple robe on him, and you know he looked ridiculous, do you know what I mean? It’s dressing up a dead body isn’t it? Its not the person you know, they put this like velvet robe on him, and you know that sense of, that sense of him being out of touch, being out of reach really was overwhelming.
 
Would you rather that he’d still been in his own clothes, and that you could have touched him?
 
Well he looked regal, do you know, and this was a 27 year old boy, you know who was very proud of how he dressed you know, with his leather jacket and his scarf, and his black hair, you know? His very dark hair, he was a very handsome man, and to see him, just, almost the word that comes to mind is standardised, was very painful really. I mean I can’t even remember what clothes we buried him in, but I think it was a white shirt and black trousers, which he looked smart in, but I can’t even remember choosing those, I just, those are the things that I can remember, I can remember him being completely out of reach, and it being extremely painful because I went with a different expectation, and I couldn’t understand, even to this day I can’t understand why they wouldn’t let me go in the room with him.
 
No, so it was very, very frightening. It became then to be really, really frightening because it, you lose control over everything, because the body becomes evidence. Witness statements are being taken, the offender was in custody and you know, I knew that Jon’s brother was being interviewed so all these things start to go on around you that you’ve got no control over. And the person you love, you haven’t got a choice about well, I didn’t feel like I had a choice about how often I saw him. You know because if somebody said to me, you can go back every day, I’d have gone back every day to see him, but that wasn’t what was offered to me, and I was allowed to go back once more, which was the day they released his body, which was the day before Christmas Eve, Jon was stabbed on the 17th December and they released his body on the 23rd. And we were allowed to go back that morning, and in that intervening period all I was doing was waiting for Jon to come home basically. So the whole period of time following his death was focused on getting him back.
 
I really, really needed to see him again before he had his service.
 
And could you touch him then?
 
Yes, and they left me alone with him, we bought Jon home, and Jon was in the chapel of rest, and the undertaker had put make up on him, and you could tell they’d put make up on him, and he had a white shirt on, and I’d brought him a ring, and he’d brought me a ring just about a week before he died, I think a week before he died, a little cheapy, moon and stars thing, and I’d bought him the same, and I was able to be in the room with him and I was able to touch him, and have a conversation with him, and tell him I loved him, and tell him what the songs we were having at his service, that we were doing our best for him, and, you know and have a chat with him really. My Mum came with me, and she was able to say goodbye to him.
 
The undertaker trusted Jayne not to ‘lose the plot’ and allowed her to spend time alone with Jon. She appreciated that, unlike the police, the undertaker treated her with respect and dignity. Partners and parents often felt they had to care for the person even after they had died. When Elizabeth heard that her daughter, Marni, had died in a car crash, she wanted to go to the mortuary straight away because she was sure there was ‘something she could do’.
 

Elizabeth was angry about the delay before she could see her daughter. She wanted to touch Marni...

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Elizabeth was angry about the delay before she could see her daughter. She wanted to touch Marni...

Age at interview: 52
Sex: Female
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I just wanted to get to her straight away because I felt that there was something I could do, you know, that’s what every mother feels, isn’t it, you can always do something to make it better.
 
Where was she?
 
In the morgue.
 
In the city morgue?
 
Yes.
 
And was that the right thing for you to do to go and see her?
 
Yes definitely, definitely I, yes I couldn’t wait to get to her, I had such a, and I was so, I was actually quite angry that they hadn’t let me know before, it happened at 2.30 and it was quarter to five before I knew.
 
Yes, it’s a long time isn’t it?
 
I thought it was terrible, it seemed so long, I suppose it was that feeling of, if you’d told me before I could have done something about this, but I know that’s futile really because , you know, obviously I’ve since learnt that she was dead at the scene, there wasn’t even any… any rush to the hospital because she was dead..
 
And you saw how she looked?
 
She looked as though she could wake up, you know, it just looked, and, I just thought any minute she’s going to look up at me and say, “got you”, you know, she just looked as if she could open her eyes.
 
Were you allowed to touch her?
 
Oh yes, nobody could have stopped me touching her, there was nothing like that, nobody would have, I wouldn’t have, I would not have, I felt I… I felt very angry at the thought of people telling me that I couldn’t touch her, I thought this is my daughter you’re not going to tell me that I can’t touch her and in fact nobody did but… I think they got the message. But I don’t think people, I don’t think they do stop you touching people these days do they, or do they?
 
It depends on the circumstances, if they, there’s a suspected  murder or something then I think it would be different.
 
Yes, well obviously in this case it was not that. Yes there was no question about that, they did warn me before I went in that she’d, she’d got some bruising on her face… but it wasn’t much, I mean it was just a little bit of  a scratch on the side of her face where the glass had gone in, you know, it was nothing, nothing really at all, she just looked, her hair looked a mess which she’d have hated but I could see where there had been some blood but… she just looked fine really.
Some coroners ask the coroner’s officer or another official to stay in the room while viewing the body takes place. These officials usually remain quietly in the background, but when Lisa went to identify her ex-boyfriend she was disturbed by police ‘chatting about irrelevant stuff’. She said she wanted some ‘quiet time’ with her friend without disturbing interruption.
 
Pat’s son died when riding his motor bike. She wanted to reach him as soon as possible. She bitterly regrets that she was not allowed to stay with her son in the mortuary without the coroner’s officer. Pat could not understand why she had to ask permission to see her son and that she could not wash and dress him. Peter’s son died in a car crash. Peter wasn’t allowed to touch Tim when he went to the mortuary.
 

Pat wanted to be alone with her son when she saw him in the mortuary but the officer came with...

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Pat wanted to be alone with her son when she saw him in the mortuary but the officer came with...

Age at interview: 62
Sex: Female
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Looking back was it the right thing to go and see him?
 
Oh yes I couldn’t have borne not to have seen him. I think it was, oh yes, definitely. We needed to see him, we needed to see him. We needed to see him but again I think I, I can only speak for me, I couldn’t grasp, I couldn’t grasp it, I couldn’t grasp that this would be the last time I would see my son. I could not grasp it and I wish my mind had been able to function a little better then, I do, but there… And so we came out, and then we had some more words with the coroner’s officer. And then I asked if I could go back in to see my son on my own. Because I knew then I wanted to touch him.
 
I knew then I wanted to make a noise. But my throat was completely stopped up. I couldn’t open my, I couldn’t open my throat or use my voice at all. I couldn’t, I didn’t have a voice. I wasn’t able to speak, I didn’t have a voice to express what I wanted to express and I knew dimly that I wanted to and so I asked if I could go back in and see him and of course the coroner’s officer said yes of course I could. And my ex-husband frowned at me and obviously didn’t want me to. And I had to say to him, “Look, I’m not …” he, he looked at me as he might a child saying, “Are you going to behave yourself?” And I said, “Look, I’m not going to do anything silly, I just want to be with… with him again.” And so I went back in. But of course the coroner’s officer, and I guess it’s, I guess it’s a rule of some sort, but she came in to the place with me and was standing on the other side of a glass, a small glass, glass screen where she could see me the whole time. So I wasn’t allowed to be with Matthew,  with my son on my own. I wasn’t allowed to be. And I am sorry about that and I don’t understand why it is that a mother cannot be with her child on her own if that’s what she wishes. I don’t understand why I could not have, I could not have washed him, I could not have dressed him, I could not have looked after him in, and, and, and done that for him, looked after him in that way as I did when he came into the world, and when he was helpless. And I, I would have wanted to do that. And I understand that many people wouldn’t and couldn’t but I would have wanted to do that and, and my feelings are, as I said, that everybody was very, very kind. And I’m enormously grateful to them. But I don’t understand why the, it feels like the organisation, the State, the, whatever it is, the police authorities, have, had taken my son and were, had taken him and were doing with him what they felt best to do. And I was suddenly an outsider and not able to do things for my son. And he was somebody else’s property. It felt as if he was somebody else’s property and I had to ask permission to go and see him. And I had to be observed whilst I did.
 
Did you ask to be left alone?
 
I didn’t, I didn’t. I couldn’t find my voice.
 
At all. I couldn’t, I couldn’t, I couldn’t find my voice.
 
And I don’t, I don’t want to criticise the coroner’s officer at all because I have the utmost respect for her. And I know that she, she was as flexible and would be as, as compassionate and flexible as she is allowed to be. But I really would ask for more understanding, particularly for mothers who have carried their children inside themselves and have given birth to them and have loved them and cared for them through their lives. And no matter how much of an adult their children are when they die, mothers particularly still want and need to care for their children. And in my particular case, having a background as a nurse I had, I had laid out other people and, and yet I could have nothing to do with my son’s care after he died. And suddenly it was a case, it was an operation. It had a code name. He, his death had a code name and was the subject of interest for other people and I was in a position of having to enquire what had happened and not being able to be close to him. And I would ask for more understanding and flexibility and looking at individuals and their skills and capabilities and, and desires and needs in that situation. Because I, that was devastating to not be able to function in that way.
 

Peter wanted to cuddle his son but was only allowed to see Tim’s body from behind a glass screen...

Peter wanted to cuddle his son but was only allowed to see Tim’s body from behind a glass screen...

Age at interview: 60
Sex: Male
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And when you got to the mortuary, you said that you weren’t, you had to look at him from behind a screen.
 
Yes, yes he had, Tim.
 
How did you feel about that?
 
No you want to pick him up and cuddle him.
 
Yes of course. Did they explain why you couldn’t?
 
Oh yes well in as much as they said that  the only way that we can allow you to see him is through a glass screen  he was in a bit of a pickle, they said, and we’ve tidied him up quite well. So he looks quite nice, you know.
 
Did she explain to you why you couldn’t have closer contact with him, if you wanted to touch him?
 
No not really, I don’t suppose, she may well have done, but it was quite clear that  we could only see him from one side of a screen.  and  we accepted that really.
 
Was that very hard?
 
Well it was really, I mean all we wanted was, you know, you want to try and sort of bring him back to life because it was only a few hours ago, maybe there’s a way but I mean there obviously wasn’t, you know, it was several hours on but at the time you think you know, maybe if we could cuddle him back to life like, you know, but you can’t get that near, you can’t touch him and he’s there and you have to accept it. Part of accepting that Tim was dead really and we were then considering the fate of his friend and his friends family and what they must have been going through, you know.
There are no regulations about who is allowed to touch a dead body, but if a criminal offence is suspected most coroners will not allow the body to be touched before the first post-mortem in case evidence is lost. Some relatives feel upset that the body is treated as police property without regard to the feelings of the bereaved.
 
Viewing the body of the deceased may be delayed. Linda’s son Kevin was murdered and she was not allowed to even see his body for 24 hours. She had to wait until after the first post-mortem. She found this very hard to accept, though she said that on reflection perhaps the 24 hour delay, between seeing her son being rushed to theatre and seeing his body, allowed her to adjust to the shock of what had happened. When she did see him she was told she should not touch his body because lawyers would want a second post-mortem.
 

Linda was allowed to see Kevin after a post-mortem, and was upset that she wasn’t allowed to...

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Linda was allowed to see Kevin after a post-mortem, and was upset that she wasn’t allowed to...

Age at interview: 52
Sex: Female
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Did they take you into the ward, then, just to be with him?
 
No, no. We didn’t see him again then. From then he became police property which was even harder to take on. We weren’t allowed to see him. We weren’t allowed to go anywhere near him until they’d done an autopsy on him.
 
Couldn’t you even just be with him a little bit?
 
No. And even then all we were allowed to see him a full 24 hours later after the autopsy, we weren’t allowed to touch him. And so we had two police officers with us in the room when we went to see him at the hospital. So there was no privacy, you had strangers with you.
 
Everybody was very kind.  I just think the hardest bit to deal with was that he, he wasn’t allowed to be my son any more. That, that was, I think if it had been a road traffic accident you wouldn’t have had the police… although I suppose to a certain extent you might of because if it was somebody’s fault…it, it might have been the same way, I’m not sure.  But it was pretty horrific.
 
Really, trying to…
 
Not being able to hug him and, hm…
 
Not, being told at first we couldn’t touch him. And in the end they said that we could kiss him but we weren’t allowed to pick him up. But my youngest daughter did actually manage to do that and by lifting his head and shoulders up of course… she saw the, the stitches and, and sort of became quite hysterical after that. But it was, it was very difficult because it was so final.
 
You know, to having been told he died to actually seeing him and seeing it for yourself was, was very, very difficult.
Ann was also ‘desperate’ to see her son after he was stabbed to death but like Linda she also had to wait a day before she could see him at the hospital.
 

Ann was allowed to see her son’s body after about 24 hours, but was only allowed to touch his...

Ann was allowed to see her son’s body after about 24 hours, but was only allowed to touch his...

Age at interview: 57
Sex: Male
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Did you, you saw him the next day?
 
Yes, we were allowed to go, the next day around about the same time. It was, I believe about five-ish. He’d been put in a little side room, and by that time my brother had arrived,  we’d given my mother the news. We all went to the hospital the next day. We went in, I remember going in initially with Westley’s brother and sister, and sitting down and wanting to hug Westley, wanting to touch his hands. We weren’t allowed to do that again because of the forensics. I was allowed to touch his face, it was very striking because Westley’s eyes were open looking across, it appeared as if he was looking across the room. And he had the most distinctive smile on his face. Very distinctive. He looked very happy which is the strangest, strangest thing that I’ve ever witnessed, I, I’ve lost a number of relatives through natural causes, old age or illness, and although people look peaceful they’ve always looked quite categorically deceased. Westley didn’t. Westley looked very much alive that’s the thing that was so striking. He looked as if he’d at any moment he was going to say, “Boo, got you there!” Which would be the sort of prank you know he had a very  huge personality and cheeky, cheeky way about him.
After the post-mortem and after the coroner has issued an interim death certificate most bodies are taken to a chapel of rest. Once there relatives can usually see the body as often as they wish. Occasionally a funeral director or family liaison officer will advise a family against viewing the body because of bodily injuries or because of decomposition. The family liaison officer, coroner’s officer or funeral director may tell people what to expect. Sometimes photographs of the dead person exist which relatives can be shown to give them an idea of what to expect. Some families do not want the body embalmed and so the body changes in appearance relatively quickly.
 
Sometimes the body of the deceased is brought home and may remain there until the funeral. This may lead to a problem if the weather is hot and if the funeral is many days later.
 

William saw his daughter at the hospital soon after her death. After the post-mortem, two days...

William saw his daughter at the hospital soon after her death. After the post-mortem, two days...

Age at interview: 48
Sex: Male
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And so I asked the policeman “Was her body very badly damaged?” And he said, “No she’s not too bad looking.” So I asked could I see her, and the police and the hospital staff took me towards this room, I think it was marked, resuscitation unit, and her Mummy was outside the resuscitation unit already and so they took us in together, and there was the shape of a body underneath a white sheet, on basically a slab, , and right up until that point I was hoping that perhaps there’d been some type of mistaken identification, and that it wasn’t Lauren, and but then they dropped the white sheet from her head and I looked, and sure enough it was Lauren.
 
I’m so sorry.
 
Thank you. She didn’t look too bad, she had sort of a 2” gash, in this part of her head, exposing her skull, but apart from that she looked as if she should be alive, and in fact I put my hand on her leg and her leg was still twitching.
 
And did your son go and see her too?
 
No he didn’t go and see her at, in the hospital. He stayed outside the room, at that time, I think it was probably the right thing to do because he’d enough to deal with on that day, but when her body was brought back to the house two days later after the post- mortem he certainly went down and had his final moments.
 
You had her brought home?
 
Oh yes, yes, and in a strange way, you know there was a certain excitement about her body coming home. I think for, for the first number of days and indeed weeks, it doesn’t sink in that this person has gone forever. And so when the undertaker said that you know on the, I think it was on the Thursday morning, the accident happened on Tuesday it was on the Thursday morning the undertaker said he was bringing her home, it suddenly it wasn’t so bad, and it was nice to have her home and in her room, and , came the time of the funeral, and it was an all, it was, when it came time for the funeral it was with great reluctance actually that you know we were parting with her again as it were.
 
But the funeral was on the Friday. I remember that one, you know there was a couple of wee things happened in the lead up to the funeral, that are just awkward, but obviously it’s a very awkward situation anyway. Firstly, I mean this is, this was in the summer of 2005, and having an open coffin in the summer, by the time it was the morning of her funeral there was a distinct smell of death in the room, which was not pleasant. There was some relatives wanted to, who went to the room and see her, and others didn’t, and that’s fair enough.  
William asked the police what his daughter’s body looked like before he made the decision to see her. The decision is not always easy, but people who chose to do so often wanted to take this last chance to say good-bye and some said it helped them to accept that the person had really died. Some were relieved to see that the person had a peaceful expression on their face or that they looked as if they were sleeping.
 
When Dorrie was killed, Ian and his family were initially told that they could only go in to see him two at a time, but they decided that it was important to them to go in together.
 

Ian and his family went to see Dorrie soon after he was shot. Ian was glad that his brother...

Ian and his family went to see Dorrie soon after he was shot. Ian was glad that his brother...

Age at interview: 39
Sex: Male
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I then prepared to go to the hospital. And when I arrived at the hospital most of my family had already, in fact all my family were there, sisters, brothers, some of my brother’s close friends were there. And we were told that we couldn’t see him straight away, and that we’d have to wait. There was a number of police at the hospital at the time, and one of my older sisters came in and said that they’d told us that we were only allowed to go in in two’s, we’d only be allowed to go in in two’s, and  we didn’t want that, we wanted to go in as a family.
 
But they were refusing to allow us to go in as a family. They wanted us to go in two’s, and this was very, very, I remember very difficult for us at the time, and my Mum was very as always, is very direct in making her feelings known. And it served us well in this particular case because she insisted that we all were going to go in as a family. And she told the nurses and the police that we were all going in together, and no-one argued with her.
 
And as a family we went in, as a family we walked in together.
 
So we were all together, we all walked in, my family. Aunts were there, my Aunties were there, and a number, my Aunties, some of my Aunties had arrived, my sisters, my siblings and some of his friends were there, and we all walked in together and he was just laying there as though he was sleeping, you know he was, just sleeping, and so still, and so at peace, you know, I hadn’t seen my brother looking so peaceful, ever since he was a baby really. Because I was, I’m 10 years older than him so I do remember him being a baby and for me he just looked like such, you know his face had such peace, and for me that was very comforting.
 
It was comforting was it?
 
It was comforting yeah, it was comforting to see that and to experience the feeling of this person looking at least at peace, a calmness over him, and a stillness in him.
 
Were you allowed to touch him?
 
We were. We were allowed, we weren’t, well I think, we were not allowed to touch him, however people, did touch him. We were told that we weren’t allowed to touch him but my mother again was not accepting that, and she touched him quite a lot. She rubbed him, she kissed him, hugged him, held him, she did everything that she felt she needed to do. For me that was not something I wanted to do, personally. I felt that just seeing him was enough for me, and I did not touch him.
 
So seeing him, the most important thing was to see him at peace? Were there any other reasons why it helped you to see him?
 
To accept it, to accept it. Until I saw him he was still alive as far as, even though I’d been told he was he was dead, it was important for me to go and see him, because it would confirm to me that this was the truth, this was something that I had to accept. And seeing him, for me, was very, very necessary, to conclude that he has gone. 
 
Some people regretted seeing the body of the person they loved; others wished they had been better prepared by the police, mortuary attendant or undertaker. Jocelyn was given a description of his son’s body by the mortuary attendant and decided not to view. Sally identified her mother, who was badly burnt in a fire, (see Identifing the body). She saw her again at the funeral home but deeply regretted seeing her mother on both occasions because she didn't look as she did in life. She found it hard to believe that anyone looks peaceful in death but others recalled calm, even euphoric, expressions.
 
Circumstances sometimes did not allow people to view their relative’s body. Cynthia was not allowed to see her daughter’s body, perhaps because of her daughter’s severe head injuries. Looking back she said that she would have liked to have known this at the time and at least have had the opportunity to have held her daughter’s hand.
 

After the inquest Cynthia understood why she had not been allowed to see her daughter's body. She...

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After the inquest Cynthia understood why she had not been allowed to see her daughter's body. She...

Age at interview: 64
Sex: Female
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You said that you weren’t allowed to see your daughter’s body. Was that the right decision? Do you think?
 
Probably in retrospect it was. The first indication that I had of what had actually happened was one of the witnesses in the inquest, so this is a whole seven months later, one of the witnesses in the inquest said that he wasn’t sure what had happened to my daughter, whether it was just an injury or she had been killed or whatever and he said, “And then I looked under the lorry and when I saw that her face had gone, I realised she must be dead.”
 
And that’s the first I knew.
 
Yes.
 
But presumably her head was so badly injured that was why they’d not let me see her, and I think that was probably right, but at the same time I would’ve liked an explanation.
 
Yes.
 
And given the opportunity just to hold her hand or something.
 
Yeah. Yes.
 
Just something.
Rachel very much wanted to see her son’s body but her husband and daughter both decided not to, preferring to remember him as he had been when alive. For similar reasons Michael also decided he did not want to see his son’s body in the funeral parlour.

Last reviewed October 2015.

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