Short and Sweet: Paying respects to an aquaintance

by epi on July 9, 2013

Q: I need to attend a viewing for the sister of a friend at work. I never met the sister. Is there an appropriate time that one must spend at the viewing? It is in another town an hour away from where I live so it could be a long night. Is 20 minutes too short of a time to pay your respects?

A: No, you don’t need stay more than a few minutes to pay your respects, but it is important to sign the guest register so that the family will know you were present.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanna July 17, 2013 at 11:28 am

Twenty minutes is plenty of time, given that you never knew the deceased. You can pay your respects to the family and just go after that.

In my personal experience, after a very short time, many people at wakes start chit-chatting with one another, and even (pretty awful, IMO) LAUGHING. It’s not a social event!


Jody July 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I disagree with Joanna in part. Laughing and chatting certainly *can* have a place at a visitation. It all depends on the family and the atmosphere. At my parents’ visitations we enjoyed hearing stories from my parents’ friends. It lightened the atmosphere quite a bit and made it more bearable for us. If you’re inclined to chat, take a minute to get the atmosphere from those already there. Your coworker just might welcome the distraction.

As for the length of time, it all depends on what makes you comfortable and how crowded the vistation is. If there are a lot of people in line, you certainly don’t have to stay twenty minutes if you don’t want to. Stay long enough to have a brief moment of silence before the casket (if one is present) and say a few words to your coworker. If there are very few people at the visitation, you might want to stay a few minutes longer so it doesn’t look like you’re rushing out of there.


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