The casket will be closed at the funeral?

A distant cousin of mine sent me a recent obituary of another distant cousin of mine. At the end it said that “the casket will be closed at the funeral.” I’ve never seen this in an obituary before. I’ve only been to a couple of funerals in my life. Is this some old-timey thing that isn’t done any more, or just something that’s not usually mentioned in the obituary?

A closed casket can be for a lot of reasons.
Most often it is because the body is not fit for viewing - a truly horrible accident or the result of a long illness that would make the body not be suitable for a last viewing. The family might want to remember the departed as they were in good health.

There could be religious reasons, but my best guess is one of the above.

It’s usually not mentioned in the obituary, no. Actually having a closed casket at the service is pretty common for people who died violent, disfiguring deaths, though.

What did your cousin die of, if I might ask?

My experience may not be representative, but I have observed the closing the casket at the funeral mostly at Eastern Rite services.

It is a honking emotional moment, with a capital ‘E.’ It symbolizes and makes it very real that ‘she’s really dead.’ Not a dry eye in the house.

In the Western Rite services of my experience, the casket is closed in private, after the viewing, before the funeral.

I haven’t been to a whole ton of funerals, or wakes for that matter. The only event (the one wake) that was open casket was the one non-Jewish event. I believe Jewish funerals are usually, if not always, closed-casket, regardless of the appearance of the deceased.

The wording sounds a bit ambiguous; does that mean the casket will be closed the whole time, or at some point someone will walk over and close the casket?

I see. I was reading it as if the lid on the casket would be changed from open to closed at the services rather than it being a closed-casket service. No one in our family is remotely Eastern so I’m sure now that that isn’t the case. Thanks for the replies.

Both Jewish funerals I’ve been to were open casket for a viewing period, and then, yes, the funeral director closed the casket before we prepared to go to the cemetery. The closing of the casket definitely offers a feeling of finality.

I though the casket was usually closed.

I’ve been to 2 funerals (well actually 3, but 2 were for the same person.) and all were closed casket. This was good for me, as I wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise. I refuse to see the the ones I love dead. I prefer to remember them as they were.

You could visit the chapel of rest any time before the funeral if you wanted to see the deceased.

I’ve been to a ton of funerals (I have a huge extended family). I’ve been to two closed casket funerals. One was for a cousin who committed suicide and couldn’t be viewed. The other was for my grandmother who requested, before her death, that her funeral be closed-casket. She didn’t want people looking at her at her funeral.

I think open-casket funerals are kind of creepy and, if I’m not cremated, I’d like to go the way of my grandmother.

I think it just depends. In my family, my grandfather had an open casket, because my grandmother wanted it that way. Several years later, my grandmother had a closed casket. Apparently her last few days in the hospital were pretty hard on her appearance, and my father and my aunt decided that she wouldn’t want to be seen that way. Instead, the funeral parlor made a display of pictures of her throughout her life, that was outside the chapel.

It has been my experience, at (mostly Protestant) funerals, that the casket was open before the service, for viewing, usually in the foyer, and then closed before the service started, and the casket borne into the sanctuary. These were all funerals held at churches, not funeral home chapels. Mourners can also usually view the deceased at a visitation before the day of the funeral.

I’ve left instructions that as soon as I die I’m to be prepared, put in the box, and it’s not to be opened at all for any viewing, for anyone I decided that after my grandfather died, and my grandmother thought they hadn’t got his mouth set right. If folks care to remember me, a debatable point, I’d rather they remember me alive, than in “doesn’t she look natural?” mode.

My mum said exactly the same thing about my Grandad. And she ended up having nighmares about him not being able to talk.

I’m glad I never saw his body.

Sounds like announcing a closed casket would let squeemish family members and friends know that it’s safe to attend. And it would give everyone who felt they were owed a viewing a chance to vent and complain somewhere besides at the funeral.

All the funerals I’ve been to, the casket was closed the whole time. If you wanted to see the dearly departed, there was an open-casket viewing time a day or two before the funeral.

I’d want mine open at the funeral so I could sit up and yell “Gotcha-ya!” :stuck_out_tongue:

My father’s casket was open throughout the whole ceremony. We also had a open-ended, non conventional ceremony. The idea behind the ceremony was each guest who chose to participate would bring a small, very light object with them. An object that they felt repersented their relationship with him. They went up to the front, explained the meaning behind it, delivered a kind of eulogy, then placed the object in the coffin to be buried with him. My brother switched watches with my father so that they would always have part of each other with them. My fathers best friend pu two yankees hats because one of his fondest memories of my father was him sneaking Vic into a Yankee’s game for free by putting him in one of my fahter’s spare navy uniforms.:slight_smile:
My grand-father’s funeral was much more traditional but it was open casket. I guess we wanted to prolong the inevitable of never seeing him again. He had had extensive nerve damage and had lost his hair.
When my friend’s six day old baby died, she had an open casket funeral because not everyone had gotten to see him before he died. Let me tell you, that is something I hope I never see that again.

Well, those are the only three funerals I have been too and they are all open casket. Before I read this thread I didn’t realize it wasn’t common to have the casket open throughout the ceremony.

I’ve been to quite a few funerals, and they have generally tended to be closed casket. When my girlfriend’s father (Vietnamese buddhist) died, there was an extended viewing period involving lots of ritual in which everybody had to make triple circuits of the coffin while holding incense sticks (multiple times). I felt this was rather unfair for the children present - though they actually handled it reasonably well. After a lengthy session of prayer on the day before the actual funeral proper, the casket was closed at 4pm. After this, non-family were permitted to enter the funeral chapel, and pay their respects to the closed casket. There is a Buddhist belief that if non-family members view the body, bad luck can be transferred in one or both directions from the family of the deceased to the friends’ families, or vice versa.
My personal preference is for a closed casket funeral. I can see the rationale of a “final goodbye” at an open casket one, but for mine I’d rather remember the person as something other than a cadaver.

I shouldn’t have opened this thread, I’m crying now, but I’ll post my 2 cents anyways.

I’ve been to two funerals that I can remember whether it was opened or closed. My grandmonther’s I think was open, but I was five, so hard to tell. My other grandmother was open for viewing but closed at the funeral.

My grandfather, on the other hand, was cremated beofre the service. I"m gald I didn’t have to see his body, but there was still that “oh my god, he’s relaly gone” moment. Being away really didn’t help thing, I feel like I’ve gone through his death five times–finding out he had cancer, finding out it was inoperable, finding he was about to die, finding out he was dead, and then finally the funeral. Really rough. [ending hijack, finding kleenex]

Every funeral I’ve been to, from the one where my 18-year-old friend died from accidental drowning, to my grandfather, was closed casket, with the body available for viewing beforehand.

often it is a simple matter of money. It costs quite a bit to make a body “suitable for viewing”, even if the cause of death was natural causes.
My father recently died and we did not have an open casket or viewing simply because we knew dad would be really pissed off that we would spend the extra money on something so pointless and needlessly painful for the family.
Funerals can be ridiculously expensive even for the most basic graveside service and there is no shortgage of misc. extras such as guest books to sign and other paraphenelia not to mention the guilt feelings of not spending the extra couple of thosand dollars for a “prettier” casket.
The worst thing about it is that the people most vulnerable to the sales pitches are those closest to the person who died and is likely the very person making the arrangements.

My father-in-law knew that I hated viewing the body. He would try and trick me into doing it anyway. For example, he’d say “There’s someone in the next room, I’d like you to meet.” I fell for it a couple of times, because my strategy had been to not be interested in where the body was on display and just stay outside or in the lobby. From then on I made sure I knew where the casket was being displayed.

My grandmother requested that her casket be closed. I have requested the same. My personal opinion is that it is a ghoulish custom (however, I respect the fact that others consider my viewpoint as being wierd). So should the wishes of the deceased be respected or if the family disagrees should they follow their own wishes? If I’m dead, why shouldn’t my wife and family do whatever makes them feel good? :confused: