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Open vs. Closed Casket Funeral | What To Expect  

In the aftermath of losing a loved one, you are likely experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. Not only are you trying to process your own personal grief, but you also are trying to fulfill the wishes of someone who meant so much to you. As you begin to navigate the process of finalizing the arrangements, know that you can rely on our staff to help you make informed, thoughtful decisions about your loved one’s funeral.

One decision that many people have to make is choosing between an open or closed casket for the funeral. This guide will provide you with more information about open and closed caskets, and what to expect from each experience.

Open Casket Funerals: What You Need to Know

In an open casket funeral, the casket remains ajar allowing those in mourning to view the body. Some people feel that an open casket funeral allows them to stay more physically connected to their loved one. Others have said that an open casket funeral gives them more closure. However, an open casket funeral is not the best option for everyone. It is important that you consider your own personal circumstances as well as the wishes of your loved one as you decide between an open casket funeral and a closed casket funeral.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Open Casket Funeral

There are many factors that you may want to consider if you are deciding between an open casket funeral and a closed casket funeral, such as:

  • When the funeral will take place. An open casket funeral typically has to take place within a few days or a week after the person’s death. If the funeral is not going to take place for a longer period of time, then the body may not be able to be preserved well enough to host an open casket funeral.
  • The preferences of the person who died. Many people plan their funeral services in advance, and your loved one may have expressed a preference for an open casket funeral prior to their death. In this event, most people abide by the wishes of their deceased loved one if possible.

Understanding Open Casket Protocols

In an open casket funeral, the upper half of the person’s body is in view. After the body arrives at the funeral home, it is embalmed and readied for the viewing by a mortician. An experienced and professional mortician will strive to make the individual appear as they did when they were alive, which allows those in mourning to feel closer to the person that they loved.

It is important to have an idea of what to expect when you are planning and attending an open casket funeral. For family members and guests, the moment when they view the body for the first time is often an emotional one. Typically, immediate family members are given a private time when they can view the body, allowing them the space they need to grieve.

Etiquette generally requires people to view the body without touching it. It is polite to keep any comments about the appearance of the body to yourself. While the mortician can work tirelessly to maintain the individual’s likeness, there are going to be some differences that you may notice. It may be hurtful to other family members or guests if you comment on the body or the way that it looks in the casket.

If at all possible, many people prefer open casket funerals because it allows them to feel as if their loved one is still with them for another brief moment. It can often bring a sense of closure that cannot be achieved through a closed casket funeral.

Closed Casket Funerals: What You Need to Know

In a closed casket funeral, the casket remains closed during the viewing and the funeral service. Family members and guests are not able to see the body, and some prefer this option for a variety of reasons. It is important to feel comfortable with your own decision, particularly if you are respecting the wishes of your loved one.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Closed Casket Funeral

If you are planning a funeral for your loved one, you may want to consider the following factors before making your final decision:

  • The condition of the person’s body. The cause of death may have an impact on the appearance of the body and could necessitate the need for a closed casket funeral. In some cases, a severe illness may have altered the person’s appearance, and they may not wish to be remembered in that way. In other cases, the death may have been caused by a traumatic event, and it may not be possible to display the body in an open casket. Funeral home staff members will work with you to determine if the condition of the body is suitable for an open casket funeral, or if it would be best to opt for a closed casket funeral.
  • The religious or cultural beliefs of the individual who died. A person’s religious beliefs are deeply personal and often have a significant impact on their funeral proceedings. Some cultures or faiths require a closed casket funeral, and it is important to take these factors into consideration when planning a funeral for someone you love.

Understanding Closed Casket Funeral Protocols

A closed casket funeral is sometimes required due to the condition of the body or cause of death, and it is sometimes preferred by the family of the loved one due to religious or cultural reasons. Regardless of the reason for choosing a closed casket funeral, it is important that you know what to expect when planning or attending a closed casket funeral.

In a closed casket funeral, the body is not able to be seen during the viewing or the funeral service. The casket will be closed the entire time, but that does not mean that people have to distance themselves from the body of their loved one. Visitors at a closed casket funeral are still encouraged to pay their respects to the body and stand, kneel or pray in close proximity to it.

If a family does opt for a closed casket funeral, it is not polite to question their reasons. This can be a difficult decision to finalize, and they may not want to provide details as to why they made that choice. While some believe that an open casket funeral offers more closure, others feel that a closed casket funeral helps them accept the finality of the loss that they are experiencing.

At San Tan Mountain View Funeral Home, we understand that this is a challenging experience that can be overwhelming at times. Please know that you do not have to make these decisions on your own. Our qualified and experienced staff members will work closely with you and help you understand your options. We want you to feel confident in your decisions so that you can feel comfortable grieving your loved one as you honor their wishes.

Feel free to contact us at any time with any questions that you have about the funeral planning process. We look forward to serving you at San Tan Mountain View Funeral Home.

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