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Old 10-29-2007, 09:09 PM   #16
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All of the funerals I've been to have been my religion (Catholic), and have been a case by case basis. Usually open casket at the viewing, closed casket at the funeral.
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Old 10-29-2007, 09:32 PM   #17
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Open casket is fucking creepy, at least for me. I'd rather be left with my memories of someone when alive, as opposed to getting a final glimpse of an empty, pale carcass.
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Old 10-29-2007, 09:36 PM   #18
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When I went to my grandma's wake and saw her open casket, all I remember is breaking down in tears right then and there. It didn't creep me out, it just made me even sadder. It is a really strange thing to look at .

Thanks to people for clarifying things regarding open caskets and whether or not they're only restricted to certain groups as well.

Angela
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Old 10-29-2007, 09:38 PM   #19
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Open caskets have never disturbed me at all. The only time I ever get emotional at funerals is when I leave my aisle at the end and begin walking out, having to see every person behind me crying. That's rough.
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Old 10-29-2007, 10:03 PM   #20
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Open caskets are creepy. The people look fake, orange and strange. And I don't want my last memory of someone to be lying there as a corpse.

I'd prefer being cremated as well. In fact I've told my family that if I should die prematurely, to have whatever is the absolute cheapest method, or I'd haunt them from beyond the grave. I can't believe the prices of some of those caskets/flowers, etc. Talk about profiting from people's grief.
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Old 10-30-2007, 11:44 AM   #21
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I think open caskets are just rough for the family. As mentioned earlier, the "earth suit" doesn't really look like the person who had occupied it, and they are not there! The only purpose I can see is that it makes us realize that our loved one is really gone!

I would like a memorial service, with U2 music and some of my other favorite music; but I don't want anyone looking at me after I'm dead. I want to be cremated--MrPurrl and my son both know that part of my ashes are to be scattered on the beach at Sanibel Island, FL, and the rest off the top of Humpback Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia--but the wind has to be blowing from the west so that "I" go to the Rockfish Valley!
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Old 10-30-2007, 11:51 AM   #22
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Originally posted by yolland
Question about "open casket" wakes/funerals: is that a denomination-linked custom, i.e. some Christian denominations almost always do it while others almost never do, or is it more of an up-to-the-individual kind of thing? I've always wondered about that.
At the funeral itself the casket usually is closed here in Germany, but I think the spouse or parent can also ask for it be open.
The days before the funeral it usually is opened, but you can also demand that it's not "public".

I wouldn't like it be open at the funeral ceremony, and we did have it closed.

My grandmother told me when she was a child it was custom that the body remains in the house where the person lived for one week, and the school class that was at its last school year, graduation year, had to go there and sing for the dead person. And when she was in her last year her neighbour died, who she had gotten to know as a very friendly person, at it was in summer. So she and her class had to go there and sing for him... well, I'm really happy we got rid of such a custom.
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Old 11-01-2007, 12:36 PM   #23
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Full disclosure, I work for the National Funeral Directors Association, a trade association representing about 19,500 funeral directors/10,000 funeral homes.

Green funerals (bodies are not embalmed, people are buried in a shroud or biodegradable casket; cremated remains are buried in a biodegradable urn or scattered) and home funerals are not new. They are they way things used to be done. People used to take care of their own dead. They held wakes in the home, possibly brought the body to a church for a funeral service/mass, took them to the cemetery, dug the grave, lowered the casket and filled the grave.

It wasn’t until the time of the Civil War that embalming became popular – it was a way to preserve the body until it could be brought home to the family. The practice of hiring a funeral director to take care of the dead happened shortly after the Civil War as the country became more industrialized and people no longer had the time to care for their dead.

Funeral directors are there to serve families. They will do anything you want to help you create a meaningful funeral for your loved on – be it a green funeral, a home funeral, biker funeral – so long as it’s legal, funeral directors are there to serve your family.

Now, some of you mentioned embalming/viewing. If I may, I would like to clear up a few common misconceptions:

First, the best way to deal with a death is by dealing with the dead -- confronting the loss, honoring the memory, addressing the religious and spiritual beliefs and disposing of the dead body properly. Grief experts suggest that when a loved one dies, we find it most difficult to believe that death has happened. The process of grieving helps us accept and learn this reality. Early on, the bereaved are often shocked and numbed, refusing to believe. Even if they are able to say and realize intellectually that the death has occurred, it is difficult to fully accept the event emotionally. By seeing and even touching the deceased, we have a visual and tactile image of what the fact of death means. We know that being dead is different from being alive, and we know that the person we loved is truly dead, not simply "gone away".

Second, the embalming process itself is defined as process of chemically treating the dead human body to reduce the presence and growth of microorganisms, to retard organic decomposition, and to restore an acceptable physical appearance. I think most people get the preservation aspect of embalming. But, the “restore an acceptable physical appearance” is something people don’t get.

Twenty years ago, the chemicals and makeup used in the preparation process were quite different. Today, the embalming chemicals are now tinted and as they are injected into the body, they restore a more “lifelike” (for lack of a better word) tone to the skin. Also, the makeup used is not the pancake makeup you were used to seeing. Twenty years ago, the make up was what funeral directors used to restore a lifelike coloring. Now, because embalming fluid does the bulk of that work, make up is used sparingly and only to enhance the appearance of the deceased.

On Tuesday evening, the PBS documentary series FRONTLINE aired “The Undertaking,” a behind-the-scenes look at the work of funeral directors. The entire episode is available on line (http://<a href="http://www.pbs.org/w...dertaking/</a>) and it will likely be rebroadcast soon. I encourage you to watch it to get a better understanding of how funerals help us grieve and memorialize the dead.

As one of the funeral directors says in the documentary, “A good funeral gets the dead where they need to go and the living where they need to be.”
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Old 11-01-2007, 02:18 PM   #24
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Originally posted by JessicaAnn

Second, the embalming process itself is defined as process of chemically treating the dead human body to reduce the presence and growth of microorganisms, to retard organic decomposition, and to restore an acceptable physical appearance. I think most people get the preservation aspect of embalming. But, the “restore an acceptable physical appearance” is something people don’t get.
How much physical damage can embalming undo? For example, if something happened to the body before death that caused gross discoloration of the skin, does the skin stay that color or does skin go back to it's "normal" color when someone dies? If it stays the unnatural color, does the embalming fluid mask the discoloration? With my grandpa, he was discolored and his head was swollen. It wasn't from bad embalming, that happened as a result of the conditions that caused his death. It appeared that there was only so much embalming could reverse...
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Old 11-01-2007, 03:43 PM   #25
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How much physical damage can embalming undo? For example, if something happened to the body before death that caused gross discoloration of the skin, does the skin stay that color or does skin go back to it's "normal" color when someone dies? If it stays the unnatural color, does the embalming fluid mask the discoloration? With my grandpa, he was discolored and his head was swollen. It wasn't from bad embalming, that happened as a result of the conditions that caused his death. It appeared that there was only so much embalming could reverse...
The embalming process and application of cosmetics can work wonders. Embalming won't mask discoloration on the surface of the skin. Concealers can help take away discoloration.

The embalming fluid can take away the ashy, grey color that the skin takes on when blood stops circulating after death.

The preparation process can also help restore the appearance of people who have died under tragic circumstances. I was speaking with a funeral director a few months ago about a family he served. Their college-age son died by suicide -- a gunshot to the head, an injury that obviously caused quite a bit of damage.

The funeral director was able to reconstruct the head and the family was able to have an open casket funeral.

A few months after this funeral, the mother of the boy called the funeral director to thank him for the funeral directors efforts, but she said the funeral director almost did too good a job. According to the mother, seeing her son look as good as he did sort of took away from the violent way he died.

A few things can help ensure your loved one looks as good as they possibly can:
- Provide the funeral director with plenty of photos of your loved one – photos that show them as you would like to see them.
- Communicate with the funeral director about how much makeup the person wore, hoe they styled their hair, if they wore nail polish, etc.
- Ask plenty of questions so you know what you can expect.
- After all, the funeral director may have never met your family or your loved one, so they don’t know what he or she looked like when they were alive. So they take their lead from the information we provide to them.

Typically before a visitation starts, a funeral director will ask the immediate family to come a bit early to ensure their loved one looks right. If something looks “wrong” (too much eye makeup, wrong shade of lipstick, a scar or area of discoloration is visible, etc), they can correct it before the start of the visitation.

If I can say, I know there are stories that creep up every once and a while about funeral directors being in appropriate in the prep room (making fun of the deceased, taking photos, etc). Let me reassure you, this is far and away, the exception to the rule.

The funeral directors I have met and worked with see what they do as a sacred trust. You have entrusted your loved one to their care and that is not something they take lightly. They care for your loved one as you would care for them – with grace and dignity.
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