The death of a loved one is a painful experience that can leave families feeling lost and overwhelmed. When it comes time to plan for the funeral, it feels like a million decisions need to be made. One of those decisions is whether to have the body present at the service.
Deciding whether to have the body present, either as an open or closed casket funeral, can be challenging as it is an intensely personal choice that can be influenced by a range of factors. While some may find comfort in seeing their loved one, others may prefer not to have a viewing. In this article, we will explore some of the key considerations to keep in mind when making this decision.
Religious and cultural beliefs.
A person’s religion or cultural beliefs can play a significant role in determining whether or not the body is present at the funeral. Some religions, such as Judaism and Islam, require that the body be buried within 24 hours of death, without an open casket.
Other faiths, such as Catholicism and Protestantism, traditionally have an open casket during the funeral mass or viewing. It is essential to discuss your beliefs and preferences with your religious leader to determine what is appropriate.
The appearance of the body.
The appearance of the body is another important factor to consider when deciding whether to have an open or closed casket funeral. If the deceased had a traumatic death or illness, their appearance may not be as peaceful as one would hope, which could upset family members and friends. In these situations, it may be best to consider a closed casket funeral or not having the body present.
The age of the deceased.
The age of the deceased can also play a role in determining whether or not to have an open or closed casket funeral. If the deceased was a child, some families may find it too emotionally difficult to have an open casket funeral. In these situations, a closed casket funeral may be a more appropriate choice. However, children's coffins are much smaller than adult’s and even having the body present can be a painful reminder of such a short life.
You might also need to consider the overall cost of the funeral service. If the family is on a tight budget, a closed casket funeral may be a more affordable option, as it does not require as much preparation and fewer embalming and makeup expenses. Also consider the added cost of hiring a hearse to transport the body and coffin if the body is present.
Funeral providers and their services.
Not all burial or cremation services offer having the body present at the funeral, or if they do it is an additional expense as mentioned above. At Bare we don’t believe there is a single way to say goodbye to a loved one, which is why our Bare Funerals are flexible to ensure you say your farewell in the way that’s right for you and your loved one. Aside from a memorial option after the cremation, we also offer the option to hold a ceremony with the coffin present prior to the cremation for an additional but affordable fee.
It is essential to consider how guests may react to an open or closed casket funeral. If the guests are predominantly elderly, they may find an open casket funeral too distressing. It is also important to consider the cultural background of guests who will be attending the funeral to ensure that the decision made is respectful of their beliefs.
Family dynamics can also play a role in determining whether to have an open or closed casket funeral. In situations where there is tension or conflict within the family, an open casket funeral may not be the best option, as it could cause additional stress and tension during an already difficult time.
The timing of the funeral service can also play a role in determining whether to have the body present. If the funeral service is several days after the death, the body may not be in an appropriate condition for an open casket funeral, or you may need to pay more for embalming services. It is important to discuss this with the funeral home staff and make arrangements accordingly.
Preparation and embalming.
If you decide to have an open casket funeral, it is essential to discuss the preparation and embalming process with the funeral home staff.
The preparation process involves cleaning and dressing the body, while embalming involves the use of chemicals to preserve the body. It is essential to understand the process and ask any questions you may have to ensure that you are comfortable with the decision.
If you choose to have the body present at the funeral, you may want to consider having pallbearers. Pallbearers are individuals who carry the casket during the funeral service. They may be family members, friends, or colleagues of the deceased.
Final resting place
Finally, it is important to consider the final resting place of your loved one. Whether you choose burial or cremation, it is essential to consider your loved one's wishes and beliefs when making this decision, and also consider how practical it will be to have the body present.
Final thoughts on viewing the body at the funeral.
It has been ingrained in us that having the body present at the funeral is a vital part of the service, which is still true to many families. However, if this doesn’t align with you or your loved one’s wishes, an urn with the person’s ashes, or simply a photo and memorial table filled with special items can replace the coffin but still be a focal point and represent the deceased.
Whether you are looking to organise a direct cremation, a memorial, or funeral service with the coffin present, we would be honoured to support you. To find out more, visit our Bare website here, or call 1800 071 176.