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.

What Does a Closed Casket Consist of?

As the name suggests, a closed casket funeral is a type of funeral during which the casket of your loved one remains fully closed throughout the wake, service, and burial. With this type of service, you won’t be able to view your loved one’s body at any point during the procession. Every other part of the funeral, from the service to the burial, remains the same.

There are a wide range of reasons why a family might choose a closed casket service for their loved one, ranging from illness to religious beliefs. We’ll go over some of the determining factors in a later section.

What to Expect at the Closed Casket Service

Understanding what to expect during a closed casket funeral can put your mind at ease in the days before the service. During a closed casket funeral, the family of the deceased will typically place a large bouquet of flowers over the casket, which indicates that the family prefers to hold the service without a viewing. The family will usually also place a framed portrait of the deceased on the casket for family members and loved ones to say their final goodbyes. In many cases, the family might create a collage of photos showcasing the deceased’s achievements and important moments throughout his or her life. If you have a photo with or of the deceased, feel free to reach out to the family to ask if you can share it with the other guests during the wake and service.

Both open casket services and closed casket services are common throughout the United States. Just like during an open casket service, you’re encouraged to share your memories and feelings with other guests and to pay your respects to the deceased during the wake. Following the burial, you may be invited to a meal or reception with the family members and very close loved ones 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 Home 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.