Should We Plan a Visitation?

Calhoun Funeral Home have been part of Northeast Ohio and beyond for over 65 years, serving area families for generations. When our staff sits down with a family to plan a funeral, there are many decisions that need to be made. One topic of discussion is whether to hold a visitation.


Some families aren’t sure what to do, asking questions like, “If we have a visitation, do we have to have an open casket?” Or, “If my loved one is cremated, can we still have a visitation?” We are here to talk through these details and also explain the difference between a viewing (when the loved one who died is present) and a visitation.


First, know this: You can absolutely have a visitation without having a viewing. A visitation is simply an opportunity for family and friends to come and share their support and love.


A visitation can also be a time when you express your loved one’s personality. When the visitation is held at one of our beautiful and comfortable funeral homes, you have access to our state-of-the-art facilities as well as our planning expertise. We can help you add personal details that are sure to bring comfort and even a smile to those who knew your loved one. This includes:


A memorial table featuring photos and items your loved one collected or treasured over the years. Was your grandmother an artist? We can set up an exhibit of her work. Did your uncle love the Browns? Plan a Browns-themed visitation and ask everyone to wear a team jersey. Some families choose to display their loved one’s military or police uniform.


A tribute video about a loved one can be edited and copied to show at the visitation. We can also arrange for custom-designed floral arrangements and keepsake gifts to distribute to guests, such as a seed packet for a favorite flower or a bookmark featuring a beloved Scripture passage, poem, or quote.


Many families choose to include a viewing during the visitation, with the casket present – either open or closed. If you’re unsure what to do, or there will be young children at the visitation, you may choose to do a private viewing before the visitation, with just family and close friends.


When asked about the benefits of having an open casket at the viewing, we explain the following:


  • Seeing a loved one after they die emphasizes the reality of their death, helping you and others move toward acceptance in your grief journey.
  • If a loved one experienced a prolonged illness, seeing them can help you accept they are no longer suffering and are now at peace.
  • If the last time you saw your loved one was traumatic, having this moment as your final memory of them can provide comfort.


The bottom line is that planning a final farewell is very personal and there are no “right” or “wrong” decisions. It is completely up to you and your family. If you have very strong opinions on this topic, you might consider putting your own arrangements in writing to make sure your wishes are followed.


If you know you’ll need our services soon or would like to learn more about planning your own funeral, reach out to us anytime. We are honored to share our expertise, just as we have been doing for over half a century.