Visitation or Gathering of Family and Friends
A "visitation or gathering" in the traditional sense, is when the remains is present in a casket (which may be open or closed) usually before the service, or the night before, so that family members and friends may come and spend time together.
This time also relates to families who prefer a memorial service without their loved one present.
Such a gathering offers a chance for people to "pay their final respects" to the deceased. Just as important, this time can be a time for mourners to meet and console each other in a more informal setting than at the actual funeral or memorial service.
These assemblies may be scheduled for as little as half an hour on the day of the service, or even the evening before the service.
This time can be restricted to just close friends and family, or be open to the public. It is even common to have a combination of private and public hours if the remains will be present.
Is there a special ceremony?
As part of the visitation or gathering, you can arrange a formal ceremony, an informal ceremony, or none at all.
Preference and time frame, based on how the gathering will affect the scheduling of the actual funeral service, will play a key role
Regardless, this time sharing can be a rich and powerful experience. Not only will it impact the family because of your presence, but this special time of fellowship most likely will impact you.