Open Casket vs. Closed Casket: What’s Right for Your Departed Loved One?

woman thinking at funeral service

When you’re planning a viewing or funeral service, you will need to decide whether the casket should be open or closed.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both options. A number of things must also be considered, from what you believe the departed would have wanted to financial constraints and religious considerations.

In this article, we have addressed some key factors that may affect your decision.


Not everyone in attendance will want to view the body of the deceased.

At any funeral service, there will be some guests who do not wish to see the departed after they have passed on. They may be uncomfortable with seeing their loved one in a casket. For many cultures, the practice of viewing the body of a departed person is seen as odd and unnatural. No matter what their reasons may be, it can be helpful to give guests the option of not seeing the person who passed away. 


Conversely, some mourners will expect to see the body.

Most Americans are used to the Western practice of viewing bodies after death. For many people, taking one last look at the departed provides much-needed closure. If you opt for a closed casket funeral, some mourners may feel denied the opportunity to see or touch their loved one for a final time. Seeing the deceased to say goodbye can be a great comfort and can allow the journey of healing to begin.


Sometimes the choice is made for you.

There are situations when the appearance of the person who passed on dramatically changed before their death. They may have lost tremendous amounts of weight or could be missing their hair. The staff members at the funeral home do their best to make the decedent look as they did in life, but despite their efforts, they may appear unnatural and even unrecognizable. Under these circumstances, a closed casket funeral is often the better choice. In more dire situations, people die in traumatic accidents or from severe injuries. If so, the condition of the body may not allow a display at the funeral service. Funeral directors are experienced in these situations and can provide helpful compassionate guidance.


Culture and faith can be determining factors.

Religious doctrine, cultural norms, and personal values can also be significant considerations when deciding between an open and a closed casket funeral. Some faith traditions require that the body be buried as quickly as possible, while Muslims & Quakers do not permit wakes or viewings. Other religions prohibit embalming or preserving bodies in any way. These are a few examples of the faith and cultural traditions that may need to be considered.


Budgetary considerations may play a role in your choice.

A closed casket funeral is generally less expensive than an open casket funeral. In this situation, embalming may or may not be required, and preparation and cosmetization are not needed. When cost is a factor, many families opt for the more economical closed casket funeral.


Your funeral director will help you through the decision-making process so that you can honor your loved one in the most meaningful, respectful way. If you have questions or need additional assistance, the compassionate staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is always here for you. Please reach out to us anytime.


About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit

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