Open Casket vs Closed Casket: The Choice is Yours
November 9, 2015
There are many things to consider with a funeral. One of them is if pallbearers will carry the coffin into the venue or be there when you arrive. Open casket funerals have become massively popular in America. The idea is quite new and is not a tradition from ancient times. However in Catholicism open casket funerals have been the traditional way of honouring a life. They have had their viewings or wakes for long time. The open casket vs closed casket debate rages in South Africa.
Open Casket vs Closed Casket – Staying Together for a While
Catholics believe that wakes are part of the grieving process. They believe that having the dead person ‘present’ helps the family accept the reality of their loss. Those who haven’t seen the person for a long time and who have have travelled far can see them again.
An open casket funeral is for some the chance to come to terms with the death. They can say a final farewell. They also like the idea of an open casket because then they feel friends and family can put in some momentos if they wish.
Open Casket vs. Closed Casket – When the Body isn’t Fit for Viewing
People who don’t like an open casket will say they prefer adorning the coffin with photographs, candles, and flowers. They will tell you that they know of people who have been traumatised for life for looking into an open casket ‘by mistake.’ They feel that a closed casket is the only way to go if the body is not fit for viewing. A horrible accident or a body that has been ravaged by a long illness will make the body not suitable for such a viewing. The family might want to remember the departed as they were – whole and in good health. No open casket vs. closed casket debate for them.
Open Casket vs. Closed Casket – Religious Dictates
There could be religious reasons for choosing an open- or closed casket. Judaism for instance places priority on showing respect for the deceased. In fact, one of their commandments is kevod ha-meit, honoring the deceased. The Jewish culture doesn’t appreciate open caskets, believing that it isn’t acceptable that a mortician work some magic with the body to make it more presentable. They believe that embalming and the use of cosmetics shouldn’t be used because human beings are created ‘b’tzelem Elohim’ which means in the image of God. Jews believe that people shouldn’t do anything to significantly or permanently change their image.
There are other religions who would differ and say that the body is a holy being and not something that is looked upon as defiled and therefore should be hidden. They will say that with a closed-casket funeral, the deceased is the only person not ‘present’ at their own funeral.
Open Casket vs Closed Casket – Do What Makes You Comfortable
Traditions and cultures are changing, and people pretty much do what they want. Catholics around the world were able to view Pope John Paul II as his funeral was broadcast worldwide. Not only that, the official rites for the funeral of a Catholic are flexible, and the Catholic Church actually accommodates a variety of situations.
If a family elects an open casket service and the church they attend doesn’t allow for it, they will simply find someone who will. This is the nature of how things work these days. Thee are however, many people who are anxious to hold on to their traditions. The answer to open casket vs closed casket is ‘what are you comfortable with’?
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All info was correct at time of publishing