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We have a custom of viewing the body, not just out of curiosity or to judge the mortician’s skill but to face reality. In doing that we grieve, which ventilates our sorrow and helps to bring emotional healing and relief.


A young boy in my former pastorate suffered the death of his thirty-year-old father. Well-meaning but mistaken family tried to protect him by not letting him see the body. Some years later his grandmother told me he was greatly disturbed, because his father’s death was not real to him.


Great effort is expended to recover bodies of drowned hunters; the military goes to great expense to return the bodies of their dead. We do all that because it has value for us.