With three funerals to conduct this week, it's certainly understandable that I've been thinking about death, dying, and grief. And when it comes to grief, it seems to me that there is a growing number of people in our American culture who struggle with the whole notion of open casket funerals. At last night's funeral, approximately 90% of those who attended chose not to approach the casket or even look in its direction as they filed past to leave. Afterward, a family member commented about it and asked me why that was.
For some families, an open casket funeral is a must -- it's a way to bring closure and to say their goodbyes. For others, it's little more than a macabre display which dishonors rather than honors the deceased. Add to all this (IMHO) a general insulation from the stark realities of death and dying in our culture (VERY unlike many other parts of the world), so that no wonder people are either afraid of looking at death, or convince themselves that somehow they are above such a thing.
Cremation is becoming more popular in recent times, although Christians have not always seen eye to eye on the practice (e.g. article in Christianity Today). Despite this, it does for many people, provide an alternative which avoids the whole open casket - closed casket dilemma.
That said, I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts on the use of open caskets.