Doom and gloom alert. Be warned.
I should further preface this by reminding y'all that I mostly didn't grow up in the US. I'm an American citizen, was born here, spent summers here, but lived in varying places overseas from the ages of 2-18 the rest of the time because of Dad's job. This had a lot of long term effects on my life, some good and some bad, but one consequence is that I usually wasn't anywhere in the vicinity when any close family or friends died. Mom and Dad generally went back to the States for whatever (rare) funeral services needed attending and left my brother and I behind wherever we were living so that we wouldn't miss school. I attended the funerals of both my grandmothers in my early twenties, but that was about it.
Fast forward to my life here, and my introduction to the concept of the viewing. It may well be a normal American thing, and I'm sure if you grow up with it, it is normal, but to me it seems so barbaric and cruel for the bereaved to have to stand in front of their deceased loved one's body (for the love of God) and make small talk for hours on end, I can't even process it. That actually gets to me me more than the custom of kneeling in front of the coffined deceased to pray, which threw me for a loop the first time I came across it as well. I'm sure my lack of exposure to death is the root of my issues on both counts.
Having all these thoughts because I went to the wake for my friend's husband on Friday. Not the first time I've been to a viewing for someone who died by their own hand, sadly, but the first for someone I knew well personally, and the first goddamned one with an open goddamned casket so I am looking at him at the same time I am looking at his bleak-eyed wife and kids and siblings and then kneeling mere inches from him saying the Hail Mary over his coffin because it's the only prayer coming to mind in the shock of the moment and he was a Notre Dame alum like me anyway, so it's appropriate in a weird sort of way and all I want to do is scream, "WHY????" I probably won't ever know and that's ok. It's none of my business. But Jesus. How does a family even begin to pick up the pieces and move on after something like that?
The line of mourners extended out the funeral home door and down the block, anyway. I hope that brought the family some comfort.