Considerations of Closed and Open Casket Funerals

The decision between a closed-casket and an open-casket can be a difficult choice to make. Most often, the first thought that crosses people’s minds is the state of the deceased. If the departed loved one’s body appears unsightly beyond normal circumstances, many people will consider a closed-casket funeral. However, the likelihood of this is not very high, and the reasons for choosing a closed-casket vary, most often, due to the family’s choice and the religion of the deceased.

Common Determining Factors

Many people choose closed casket funerals simply out of respect for the deceased person, regardless of the body’s condition. And while many people do not feel this way, some people view open casket funerals and viewings as an ultimate invasion of privacy, whether of the deceased person, their family, or both. Sometimes this is a matter of personal opinion, but because there are usually multiple family members involved in the decision-making process, this choice can cause disagreements, and the conversation should be approached delicately and with an open-mind for all the people involved. Pre-need funeral planning can help mitigate disagreements and help everyone reach common ground.


Religion is a common reason people choose a closed casket funeral. Many religions leave it up to the family to decide to have a viewing or wake, and who can attend, but some other religions discourage open caskets. For example, Jewish funerals hold rites known as “keriah” in addition to a small family gathering prior to the service, but they do not hold a viewing. People of the Muslim faith do not believe in an open casket viewing, as the deceased are buried as soon as possible after they have passed. Quaker funerals also have restrictions on wakes and viewings. Religion does not have to be a determining factor in choosing between open and closed caskets; there are many other valid reasons for whatever decision you choose.

Perhaps one of the most prominent reasons for choosing a closed casket is a psychological one. Although some people believe that opting for an open casket funeral offers a therapeutic opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one, some studies disprove this theory as only a nice sentiment and find more evidence of discomfort and apprehension with the embalming process and the sight of the recently deceased. It seems then that the ultimate sense of closure and finality would come from a closed-casket funeral, where guests can accept the death and let go.

 

Choose What is Best for You, Your Loved One, and Your Family

Whatever your reason for choosing between an open or closed casket funeral, the most important things are the wishes of your loved one and your own comfort with the proceedings. As one of the most reputable funeral homes in Philadelphia, PA, McCafferty Funeral Homes provides the best possible care in funeral proceedings for you, your family, and your deceased loved one. For those who are choosing an alternative to a traditional burial, we also offer pre-arranged cremations in Philadelphia as a part of our comprehensive post-mortem services. Please contact us at 215-531-5014 and continue to explore our site to learn more.