It goes without saying that caskets aren’t something that many people choose to talk about. More often than not, people don’t feel comfortable talking about death and funerals, so it makes perfect sense that caskets aren’t a common topic either.
Having said that, one quick look at the caskets out there, and you understand that the variety is impressive. Finding one coffin that you like has never been easy. And one thing to begin with when buying is whether you want a split-couch or a full-couch casket.
What’s the best way to describe a half-couch casket?
Most of us have seen a half-couch casket before, as it’s the most common type of casket. As a matter of fact, when you think of coffins, the half-couch model is probably the first to come to mind.
The lid of the half-couch casket includes two different pieces that are hinged together. If the family chooses to have a wake or an open-casket, only the head-section will be open to ease out the viewing. This way, people get to see only the upper half of the deceased. However, it's possible to open both parts of the casket's lid so that the body can be placed within by the funeral professionals.
How should we describe the full-couch caskets?
Truth be told, the full-couch caskets are less common than the half-couch counterparts. However, they’re also used in funerals and burials, and people in Pennsylvania seem to like them a lot.
In the case of full-couch caskets, the lid includes just one piece, which is typically hinged. Even the coffin can be considered to be a full-couch as the removing/opening the lid allows you to see the entire body.
As the lid of the full-couch casket is open, it’s possible to see the whole body of the deceased.
Why was the difference necessary?
First thing first, there may never have been a reason for which the difference in the construction has appeared. Some think that people began to use the half-couch models a lot more in the 20th century. The caskets would facilitate the viewing of the deceased during a visitation/wake. On the other hand, some render that the full-couch caskets are a better choice if there is no viewing during the funeral, or if it's a closed-casket service, to begin with.
However, it’s possible to have an open or closed funeral service with both types of caskets. The decision to view the deceased or not during the funeral belongs to the family. It's possible to do it with both models of caskets. Some full-couch caskets present an inner all-glass lid that protects the deceased completely, while the outer top is left open. There is also an "inner foot panel," which acts as the lower half of the split-couch casket lid, protecting the body of the deceased to the waist.
All in all, the choice of using a full or half-couch casket is personal, and your religion or own beliefs may affect the decision. For instance, Tim from trustedcaskets.com told us that the majority of manufacturers provide full-couch caskets in a generous diversity of materials and styles. No matter where you live, don’t hesitate to ask info about the availability of models. Even if they’re not displayed, they may still be part of the manufacturer’s list of products.
What are the preparations necessary for an open-casket funeral?
When you participate in a wake or viewing with an open casket, some things are essential to consider. For some people, seeing the deceased for one last time is comforting and helps with accepting death. Here are some aspects to think about before deciding whether you should have an open-casket funeral or not.
Is an open casket funeral a choice?
One of the very first things to talk about a funeral with the funeral director is whether you’re going to have an open casket or not. If so, a recent photo of the deceased is always handy as it helps the cosmetologist to prepare the dead naturally.
A natural appearance is a must
Tim from Trusted Caskets highlighted that it’s essential for the deceased to have a natural appearance when there’s an open casket funeral. Even if it's possible to use over-the-counter makeup, a reliable cosmetologist will have a personal makeup kit for preparing the deceased. If the dead used to like a particular shade of lipstick or makeup, the family could give it to the cosmetologist for better results.
Is there embalming?
Many people choose embalming, which can alter the appearance of the skin. It’s another reason for which a recent photo of the deceased is essential to provide. The cosmetologist needs to apply makeup that looks natural and doesn't feel washed out. The hands can also prepared with base makeup.
Another aspect to consider when having an open-casket is time. The period of time between the death and the service, along with the embalming process, can cause skin jaundice, which is unnatural shade of yellow. It doesn't happen often, and when it happens, cosmetologists use a thick base coat of makeup for covering the yellow hue. Should it be impossible for the cosmetologist to obtain excellent results, a closed casket is the better choice. It's not pleasant for the family to see the deceased with an unnatural look.
No open-casket viewing
Sometimes people decide pretty fast that they don’t want an open casket viewing. However, the cosmetologist will still put makeup and do the hair of the deceased. Before the funeral service begins, the family can see the body and decide then if the dead look natural enough for an open-casket viewing.
Check the online funeral arrangements
When the family is determined to have an open casket, making funeral arrangements online can ease out the process for all parts. The funeral home possesses some recent pictures, and details about the hairstyle, makeup, and attire for the open casket. According to Ken from trustedcaskets.com, people know what they’re doing and are highly professionals, giving the results family was expecting.
The proper attire
If people attending a funeral are expected to wear black (or any other color according to their religion or beliefs), there are no specific rules for the deceased. White dresses and suits are standard, but it doesn't mean that a hunter cannot be buried in his favorite hunting equipment. The attire of the deceased will bring comfort to the mourning family and friends. Should the family decide they also want to put jewelry, it's wise to remove it before burial. It's the best way to have the souvenirs and pass them to the next generations.
Customizing the open casket
It shouldn't surprise anyone that people choose to customize caskets. It's one of the topics to address during the funeral planning meeting. A deceased that used to be a hunter can have a gun placed inside the casket, whereas veterans of military service are buried with their medals. And there’s also the people that like a good joke, burying the deceased with a bottle of whiskey.
What should you expect when participating in an open casket funeral?
No matter if people use a split or full couch casket, people often choose to have an open casket. Typically, you will find the casket to be in the front of the ceremony room or a side-viewing room. The purpose is to have the participants get closer to the casket, see the deceased, and pay respects.
Many people find it comforting seeing the body one last time, giving them a sense of closure. It’s the final chance for saying goodbye to the deceased. However, nobody can oblige you to see the body.
Here’s what may happen during an open-casket funeral
What you see
Should the casket be open (no matter, if it's only half of it or the whole lid, is lift), the body will be dressed, and some makeup will give a natural appearance to the deceased. Some think it's comfortable, and some don't sit well with the viewing. No matter how great the makeup is, people will always look different from when they were alive. Once again, you don't have to see the deceased. It's appropriate to sit down without getting close to the casket.
How people react
It's widespread for people to get highly emotional when viewing the deceased, so it’s acceptable and natural. Should you want to see the body, but fear of not handling your emotions, it’s a good idea to have someone beside you as you’re approaching the casket. If you're capable of managing your feelings, you can support someone else that needs help when viewing the deceased.
Are there any religious limitations?
Various religions have different approaches when it comes to embalming and open caskets. Christian beliefs allow the family to take all decisions and viewing before the funeral service is prevalent.
On the other hand, in Judaism, open caskets aren't encouraged, and there's no viewing at all. As for Hinduism and Buddhism, the open casket viewing is permitted. However, there are some rules regarding aesthetics and customs.
There are no open casket services in Muslim tradition either, as the deceased is buried right after death.