What is the procedure when I identify the body?

This will probably be a very difficult experience for you. 

A police officer will accompany you. A grief support person may also be present to help you. 

Staff from the medical examiner’s office will try to prepare you for seeing the body in different ways. They will tell you they believe the body you are going to see is your loved one. They will briefly describe any injuries that your loved one received during the murder, particularly if there was serious trauma to the face and head. They may have photographs of the body and they may ask you if you would like to see them before viewing the body in order to help prepare you. It is up to you whether or not you want to look at the photographs. After this preparation, you will be allowed to see the body in order to identify your loved one.

It is important for you to know that you may or may not be allowed to touch your loved one when you view the body. If forensic evidence (critical evidence relevant to the investigation) would be disturbed by you touching the body, you will not be allowed to do so. If you wish, a prayer may be said. Following this viewing and identification of the body, you will not be allowed to see the body again until your loved one has been taken to the funeral home.

The identification of the body takes place after the autopsy has been done. It will not be evident to you that an autopsy has been done. Your loved one will look the same after the autopsy as before; any incisions that were made for purposes of the autopsy will not be obvious to you.

Mennonite Central Committee Canada. (2011). Getting through the maze: A guidebook for survivors of homicide.

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