Why are coins sometimes placed over dead people’s eyes?
Well… according to the FAQ at funeralmuseum.org;
Hope that helps.
I didn’t know **Clockwork and Candy’**s answer, and am happy that I know it now; makes perfect sense to me.
However, I do know what happens if you die with your eyes open, and no one is around to close them with coins or tape or whatever. The eyelids don’t generally part all the way, just a little way. The exposed part of the whites of your eyes dries out. The drying makes it change color. It starts out as a red-brown color, then turns slowly brown, and with time, black. The name for it is French; it is called tache noire, which means black patch.
Once you’re used to it, tache noire doesn’t look startling, but if you aren’t, you might be pretty glad someone had put coins over the eyes.
When people die in hospitals or at home with friends, so the death doesn’t go unnoticed for a day as happens to so many of my decedents, their eyes can be closed for them the moment they die. If it’s known that they wanted to donate their corneas, nurses and EMTs close their eyes and keep them closed with gauze or tape, so the drying doesn’t occur; because it will affect the corneas. I know if we are going to do an autopsy before the eye bank comes around (rare because they have a 12 hour time limit and we certainly don’t), after I open the eyes to look for arcus senilis, jaundice, or petechiae, we close them back up and put wet gauze on them, to be absolutely certain the corneas don’t dry.
Oh, c’mon, those are all scientific explanations…
To pay for the boat trip to Hades, of course. Remember that for the Greeks, Hades-the-place was where the dead were - it was a “bad” or “good” place depending on what judgement Hades-the-God had placed on you. If you can’t pay the boatman, you stay behind as a ghost, but can’t even do poltergeist stuff; you’re just lost.