A Drive-Thru View of Death

September 17, 2014

In the USA, we have drive-thru food, pharmacies, and banks. And now we have drive-thru viewing at funeral homes.

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE NEWS

I suppose, like death, this was inevitable. In the USA, we have drive-thru food, pharmacies, and banks. Now, as reported in the 9/15/14 edition of USA Today, "Funeral home offers drive-thru viewing".

The rationale reported for this drive-thru of death is to allow viewing of the body of the deceased for those who find it difficult, physically or psychologically, to come into a funeral home. There is an associated deposit box for donations, memory items, and to sign in.

While this development may seem macabre to some, one main psychiatric consideration is whether this will help the grieving process for some people, and/or even help them in the anticipatory anxiety about their own death. It obviously won't be relevant for those religions that don't view the dead.

For those religions that do observe the deceased, there should be some psychological benefits-- including providing enough distance from the body to tolerate the viewing, another way to share memories, and another alternative to pay respects.

However, what it misses is the social aspects of grieving, including how being around mourners provides comfort to one another. In that regard, it is probably best not to drive-thru alone, not only for the company, but at the risk of being misty-eyed and distracted while driving away. Should we try to have therapy offices nearby the funeral homes. . .  just in case?