The term "viewing" has become generally accepted to describe that practice which has replaced the gathering of the family at home whilst awaiting the time lapse between death and the funeral itself. When most deaths took place at home, "viewing" was part of that waiting time during which bereaved family members and friends supporting each other would pay tribute to the deceased and pray and support each other by their presence and solicitude.

As most funeral arrangements today are carried out by established and Licenced funeral directors operating from funeral premises, the custom of "viewing" has emerged. This is meant for family and friends to gather at that funeral home to express support to each other and at the same time spend some time with the deceased. This is a particularly important phase of the funeral service. It has the very basic and fundamental purpose of bringing to the fore the physical reality of the death. It also initiates the first expressions of grief and allows individuals to come to terms with their emotions.

It may also serve another purpose - a more basic and fundamental matter-of-fact purpose. Viewing will enable members of the family to make legally qualified identification reports should this be required later for estate or other purposes.