Should There Be An Open Casket?
When friends and family start planning a funeral service for their lost loved one, they have to make dozens of decisions at a tough time. One of those tough decisions is choosing whether or not to have an open casket or a closed casket for the funeral service.
There are actually several different things to consider when trying to decide if the funeral service should have an open casket or not, and it’s not a decision that should be made lightly.
Why Choose an Open Casket?
Many families choose to have an open casket during a funeral, a vigil, a viewing, or a wake. In fact, in some cultures having an open casket is expected. It is said that allowing mourners to come to terms with the death of their loved one is an opportunity to get closure. Basically, seeing the body helps mourners face the fact that death has truly occurred and that their loved ones are not suffering or in pain anymore. To many mourners having an open casket helps them with their mourning process.
Things to Consider About Choosing an Open Casket
While choosing an open casket is completely up to the family or the deceased’s wishes, there are several things people should consider about an open casket at a funeral service for a loved one.
Date of the Funeral Service
In some situations, a funeral might not happen for weeks after a person died. This often occurs if they were out of the area and had to be transported. Also, if the majority of the family has to fly in from somewhere else, then more funeral planning might be needed, which means the funeral service date is pushed back further. In these cases, it would be better to have a closed casket service.
The Condition of the Body
There might be instances where it’s not appropriate to see the state of the body due to extreme weight loss from sickness or some form of trauma. Thus, the funeral attendees really wouldn’t be seeing the image of the person they remembered. In this case, a closed casket might be a better idea.
Religious Service Might Warrant It
Some religious faiths prefer to have a closed or open casket. The family’s wishes should be considered here, but what the deceased would have wanted because of their faith should also be taken into account.
Wishes of the Deceased
As with all funeral arrangements, taking into the account the wishes of the deceased must be remembered and honored. As with reason two, even if the deceased wished to have an open casket, there may be extenuating circumstances that make having an open casket impossible.
Open Casket Funeral Etiquette
For open casket funerals, the body is often embalmed, dressed up, and made up to give a life-like appearance. It is important to self-check your emotions at the moment as this can be very overwhelming. While some people find comfort in seeing their loved ones as they remember them, it may also be uncomfortable to others.
If they have an open casket viewing, make sure you follow proper funeral etiquette:
DON’T touch the body under any circumstances. Sometimes the casket has a glass to prevent this from happening.
DO stand by the coffin and get closer. You don’t want the family to feel as if you’re grossed out by their loved one. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t go towards the coffin and remain seated.
DON’T make any comments on their appearance. Remember they won’t look exactly the same as they did when they were alive, keep your comments to yourself.
DO give family space. When there’s a viewing many family members won’t be able to separate themselves from the coffin, give them the space they need and don’t try to push through the guests.
Keep in Mind
It is very common to become overwhelmed when viewing your loved one’s body. If you want to view the body, but are unsure of your reaction, ask another friend or family member to walk with you for emotional support. Also, if you don’t think you can handle the emotional experience, it’s understandable that you don’t want to see the body again. Remember, each mourner as their way of paying their respects to the dead and saying goodbye, you don’t have to see the body.
If you have any questions about the funeral you are planning in the South Florida area, including if there should be a closed or open casket, talk with the people at The Gardens of Boca Raton Cemetery & Funeral Services or Boca Raton Funeral Home. They serve Broward County, Dade County, and Palm Beach County. You can call them at (561) 989-9190 or visit The Gardens offices in Boca Raton on North Military Trail.