Why do Bodies Look Different at Funerals?
Posted by Quiring Admin on December 21, 2022
Sometimes, people at funerals are surprised to see their deceased loved one looking different than they did in life. In fact, it's not at all uncommon for people to remark that an individual who has passed doesn't look like they did when they were living.
While this can be distressing for the loved ones of the deceased individual, there are several reasons for this. Funeral homes such as ours will do everything we can to make a person look like they did in life, but there is no way to make a person look exactly as their loved ones remember them.
Please be aware that some of the information conveyed in this article may be distressing for some readers. For others, understanding the reasons behind their loved one's different appearance can often go a long way to avoiding surprises during a funeral or memorial service.
1. Disease and injury cause damage to the body. The circumstances leading up to a person's death can have a massive toll on the body and its visible tissues. Large injuries can destroy or remove portions of the body. Diseases can cause discoloration, sagging skin, and other issues. Even life-saving measures can cause bruising and other injuries.
The funeral home can take steps to cover some of these issues, but doing so typically requires the use of heavy make-up and other techniques which can alter the appearance of a loved one. For example, it is not uncommon to hear people close to the deceased remark that their loved one would never have worn such heavy make-up during their life, but these cosmetics are necessary to cover large amounts of skin discoloration.
2. Memories can become clouded over time. It is important to realize that a person's memories of their loved one, especially memories of times when that loved one was healthy and happy, can greatly influence their perception of how that person looks to them after they pass. Long diseases and injuries can have an effect on the body, but it is impossible to recreate the feelings of joy that used to surround a person, or to recreate the "spark of life" that they held. If friends or family members did not see their loved one a lot before they passed, it is very possible that they will be shocked or surprised at their appearance.
Even people who spent a lot of time with the deceased are surprised at their appearance in the funeral home. This can be because they grew so used to the small changes that their loved one's body was making over time that they are now surprised to see their loved one after a few days have passed. They have often spent that time thinking about their loved one, and the memories that they hold are simply not the same as what they see in the funeral home.
3. The body is being viewed in an unfamiliar place. Very few people spend a lot of time in a funeral home, and the simple fact that the environment is so unfamiliar can greatly change a person's perception of who they see there. For example, family members who have fond memories of their loved one being outside or in their home can often find the experience of them being in a funeral home to be quite jarring.
Even if a person believes that a different location may not affect how they see their deceased loved one, there are a lot of small differences in a funeral home that can affect a person's perception, especially in a time of grief. Different lighting, smells, and even just being around a large number of people can have a huge effect on how a loved one is seen.
4. Clothes and makeup may be different than how a person would have done it themselves. Preferences for clothing, make-up, and jewelry can be made by the deceased's next of kin, and the funeral home will do its best to accommodate these requests. There are a lot of reasons why this will not result in the deceased looking like they did in life.
To start, it is possible that the person viewing the deceased have strong memories of them in other type of clothing or make-up. It's common, for example, for deceased person to be dressed in a dark suit, but for many people attending his or her funeral to remember that person in more casual clothing or brighter colors. Just being in a different or unfamiliar outfit can greatly change a person's perception of someone else.
Similarly, if a person does not wear a lot of make-up or jewelry, seeing them with the heavy make-up that is sometimes required to hide skin discoloration can be surprising. Our make-up artists will do everything they can to match colors to what the person looked like. It is not always possible to do things exactly as they would have done.
The result of all of these issues is that the deceased may look very different than how their loved ones remember them. It's important to remember, however, that this last look is not the only way that people will remember a person. Many people tend to cling more tightly to their memories of their loved ones, and the vast majority of people will choose to remember how a person looked and acted throughout their life instead of at the end of it.
You can create a meaningful custom headstones and schedule from Quiring Monuments; contact us today. Whatever option you choose, make sure you take the time to design a headstone that captures your essence and tells your story.