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Bereaved relatives helped by chance to view body after sudden loss

Grieving family members have good reasons to see a dead loved one, even in cases of violent death

People who suddenly lose a spouse or a child to murder, suicide or an accident often benefit from being allowed to see the dead person’s body, even if it’s bruised or starting to decompose, a new investigation finds.

Viewing a loved one’s marred body in a morgue or funeral home triggers distress at first, say Alison Chapple and Sue Ziebland, both medical sociologists at the University of Oxford in England. But those people who choose to do so rarely regret their decision, especially as time passes, Chapple and Ziebland report in a paper published online April 30 in the British Medical Journal.

“We were surprised that many people expressed such an intense need to see, touch, hold, talk or sing to the body,” Chapple says.

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