Choosing what clothes to dress your deceased loved one in is an important part of the funeral process. But if your relative didn’t specify their burial outfit choice in a will or they have lost or gained a lot of weight since death, traditional suit and dress clothing may not fit or be comfortable enough. In that case, a burial gown may be an appropriate option.
Burial gowns, also known as shrouds, are designed to fit over a body that has a high neckline and long sleeves. Typically, they have drawstrings across the back to accommodate any size adjustments made during the postmortem period. They are available from some non-funeral wear suppliers and some clothing retailers. They also work well if the body has been subjected to medical procedures or a prolonged illness that resulted in weight changes.
Some families prefer to dress their loved ones in clothes they would have worn if they were still alive, especially when the loved one was young and death was unexpected. This allows friends and family members to memorialize the individual in a way that feels right to them. In many cultures, a person is buried in the clothes they were wearing at the time of their death. This is because the outfits are viewed as respectful and are often a good representation of the personality and character of the deceased.
Traditionally, suits and dresses have been the most common choice for burial clothes. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Some people are buried in jeans and a shirt or a sweater. In some cases, religious beliefs can dictate the type of clothing your loved one is buried in. For example, some Catholics believe that a woman should be dressed in a white gown because it symbolizes purity.
It’s also possible to have an entirely new set of clothing made for a deceased baby. There are charities and companies that create handmade baby funeral clothes. For example, Wisconsin resident Hazel Jones uses her home workshop to cut down formal gowns and sew them into garments for babies that have died too soon. She has created an entire line of baby Angel Gowns, along with caps and diapers for the tiniest preemies, to help ease the grief of bereaved parents who have lost their little ones.
What about shoes?
Some loved ones want their dead friends and family members to be buried with the shoes they always wore. While there is nothing wrong with this, some feel that it’s too much of a reminder of mortality and the loss of their life. Ultimately, it’s up to the family to decide whether or not their loved one should be wearing shoes in their casket.
During the postmortem process, bodily fluids and environmental elements can soiled the clothing that is left on the body. For this reason, funeral directors generally prefer that your loved one is buried in undergarments as well. This keeps the outfit looking neat and tidy, and it prevents anything from spilling over onto the body.