Year: 2010 Source: BMJ, v.340, (April 30, 2010), 11pp. SIEC No: 20100447

This analysis of narrative interviews with 80 bereaved individuals interprets their accounts of why & how they decided whether to view the body & their emotional reactions to this, immediately & at a later stage. Half of the sample had been bereaved by suicide. Decisions about seeing the body varied. Viewing the body brought home the reality of death & it could be shocking or distressing but few who did so said they regretted it. It is concluded relatives should have the opportunity to view the body & time to decide which family member, if any, should identify remains. Officials should prepare relatives for what they might see & explain any legal reasons why the body cannot be touched. Guidelines for professionals must be sensitive to the needs & preferences of people bereaved by traumatic death. (32 refs.) JA