Wading Through Grief to Plan Funerals: Tips and Coping Strategies

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Two steps to take when the funeral director needs to prepare your loved one for an open-casket funeral

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If you inform your funeral director that you want an open-casket funeral for your loved one, then they will put even more effort into preparing the remains than they would for a closed-casket funeral. Here are the steps you should take when they tell you they're about to get started with these preparations.

Don't forget to give the funeral director the deceased's most-used accessories

At the beginning of the preparations, you'll need to give the funeral director the outfit you want the deceased to be dressed in. You should make sure that it also includes the deceased's most-worn accessories. For example, if they wore glasses or used a walking stick, you should include these items in the outfit. For an open-casket funeral, it's important that the deceased looks as much like their old self as possible. If they always wore their gold-rimmed spectacles or their stylish-looking walking stick and you forget to give these items to the funeral director, then the guests who view the casket at the funeral home, with the intention of taking one last look at the person they loved so dearly, might actually find the experience jarring or upsetting because the remains don't fully resemble the person that they remember.

As such, you must give the funeral director these accessories. Additionally, if the deceased wore these items in a very specific way, you may also want to give the funeral director instructions on how they should place these on the remains. For example, if the deceased used to wear their glasses on the very tip of their nose or kept them tied to a cord that they wore around their neck, you should let them know this so that when the director is finished, the deceased will look just as they did when they were alive.

Ask the funeral director if you can see the deceased immediately after they're finished the preparations

It's also a good idea to ask the funeral director if you can take a quick look at the deceased after they're finished preparing them at the funeral home. This will give you an opportunity to have the funeral director make some changes if you notice that something about the deceased's appearance doesn't look quite right. For example, you may realise that the outfit you provided has a stain on it or that it exposes an old tattoo on their body that you don't want to be visible.

As long as you ask to do this final check in advance and tell the funeral director to set aside a little bit of extra time after it, they should have no issue with letting you do this. Taking this extra step to ensure the deceased looks just as you want them to could make a significant difference to how consoled and comforted you and the other attendees are by the sight of the remains at the funeral and will ensure that you don't spend the funeral fixating on the fact that you are not happy with some aspect of the deceased's appearance.