When it comes to dressing the dead, there are plenty of choices. A funeral director may provide a garment to be worn with the coffin or cremation urn, or a family can bring their own clothing. The choice often depends on whether there is a public viewing, an open casket, or a wake, and what type of funeral it will be.
In many cultures that shroud the dead, such as observant Jews and Muslims, there is a specialized art to it. They have long traditions that include a specific garment and a set of pieces, an order in which they are assembled, a special way that knots are tied, and even a prayer and song. The art of preparing for death is an incredibly beautiful and meaningful tradition that should be experienced by everyone.
Generally, funeral gowns are made of white satin or other fabrics that are soft and drape well. They are often decorated with embroidery, lace or other embellishments. They are designed to be respectful and dignified, but also comforting and peaceful for the deceased. They are meant to be both a visual and tactile reminder of the life and love of a person.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, some women even laid out the dress they wanted to be buried in before they went into labor. That way, if they died in childbirth, their family would already know what to dress them in.
The clothing worn by the deceased can also help to tell a personal story. For example, a woman who loved cats might be dressed in a cat shaped cap or hat for her funeral. This is a beautiful and heartwarming way to honor her love for animals.
Some families will even wear their loved one’s own clothing after they die, either for a viewing or at the graveside service. One funeral director recalled a woman who had saved her pink floral nightgown, satin quilted bathrobe, and rosary beads to be buried in with her. The outfit looked beautiful next to her mahogany casket and helped to reflect her sweet personality and thoughtfulness.
There are also funeral pillows and wreaths that can be adorned with flowers for the casket or urn. Funeral wreaths are generally circular in shape and are a common symbol of eternal life or faith. They are usually crafted from red, pink, or white flowers and are sent from immediate family members. Funeral hearts are another floral arrangement that is popular.
If you are planning a green funeral, there are burial gowns that are made with natural fibers like wool or cotton and free of synthetic materials such as nylon threads, elastic waistbands, plastic zippers or buttons. They are designed to be eco-friendly and biodegradable. Often, they are handmade by artisans you can find online or at natural and green funeral supply distributors.