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Why do people have a viewing or open casket?

Published: October 21, 2022

An honest question. The idea of seeing a loved one’s body put on display for all to see might be different to some, but a major comfort to others as they say goodbye and begin to let go. An open casket does help mourners accept the reality that their loved one has moved on and will help them to do so as well.

Is there a difference between an open casket and a viewing?

The term ‘viewing’ is used for a more intimate and private time before the public funeral for the family to gather together with their loved one and say their personal goodbyes before greeting and visiting with those outside the family who have come to pay their respects at the funeral. The casket is often open for the bereaved to “view” the decedent and visit with one another.  The casket may then be closed before the public funeral. 

An open-casket funeral means that all friends and extended family will have the opportunity to view the body of their loved one for the entirety of the funeral.

Should we have an open casket funeral?

Families often consider several factors before deciding whether to have an open-casket funeral, including:

· Cause of death. A mortuary will have an easier time preserving some bodies over others because of this.

· Religion and culture. In some cultures and religions, an open casket is not practiced.

· Funeral date and viewing. If the viewing and funeral are much later than the death, it may be more difficult or costly to preserve the body for a longer period of time. Open caskets on average occur within a week of the death to best serve the needs of the bereaved.

An open casket is ultimately for the comfort of loved ones

The dressing and display of the body in an open casket are done to help resemble the deceased as they were in life to comfort friends and family. Often a final goodbye and perhaps a prayer occur before the casket is sealed once and for all. Grief is a strong force and an open casket is only meant to ease that pain.

Since 1875, The Billow Funeral Homes & Crematory has been providing world-class care to the families of northeastern Ohio. Family-owned and operated, Billow’s has two full-service facilities in Fairlawn and Cuyahoga Falls as well as a privately owned crematory. The team at Billow’s is passionate about providing unmatched care for both families and their loved ones. For more information, visit
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85 N Miller Rd
| Akron, OH 44333
Tel: 1-330-867-4141
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| Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223
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| Kent, OH 44240
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