How do they lay a body in a coffin?

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The process of laying a body in a coffin, known as casketing, is carried out with great care and respect for the deceased. There are several steps involved in preparing a body for its final resting place inside a casket. The funeral director oversees the entire process, ensuring it is done properly.

First, the embalming procedure is completed to preserve and restore the body for viewing and services. The deceased is positioned on their back with their arms at their sides. Next, the body is dressed, often in clothing provided by the family or in a burial shroud. Personal items such as jewelry or photographs may also be placed with the deceased. The body is then laid into the casket, which has been specifically chosen by the family. Head blocks or pillows are used to support and carefully position the head. The hands are placed over the chest or abdomen in a peaceful pose.

Preparing the Casket

Before the deceased is placed inside, the casket is thoroughly cleaned and prepared. The interior lining and bedding are neatly arranged to receive the body. If requested by the family, personal mementos and keepsakes may be placed inside ahead of time. Photos, letters, military medals or a favorite book are some items that hold special significance. Religious symbols, like a cross or rosary, can provide comfort to loved ones. Any floral sprays or wreaths accompanying the casket are also put in place before the body is laid inside.

Positioning the Body

Laying the body into the casket is done with great care and dignity. The funeral director oversees the entire process, treating the deceased with utmost respect. They ensure the body is correctly positioned within the casket before closing the lid. First, the deceased is carefully lifted and transferred feet first through the open end of the casket. Their back is gently laid onto the bedding, keeping the body straight in alignment.

The head is then correctly positioned using a head block or small pillow to support the curve of the neck. This keeps the face and head level and facing upwards. The arms are straightened at the sides, with hands lying flat or clasped over the stomach. Legs are also straightened so the ankles and feet lie flat. The deceased’s clothing and hair are neatly arranged before closing the casket. Overall positioning aims to create a peaceful, natural repose for viewing.

Considerations and Variations

There are some special considerations and variations when laying a body that funeral directors keep in mind:

– For infants and small children, additional padding and supports may be discreetly used to position the body within a proportionally large casket.

– Members of certain religions, like Judaism, often require a plain wooden casket with no linings or pillows. The deceased is laid directly onto the wooden surface.

– Military veterans are honorably laid to rest in their uniform if requested by the family. The national flag is draped over the closed casket.

– In some cultures, the deceased’s arms are positioned crossing their chest, rather than at their sides. Their preferences and traditions are always honored.

– The deceased may be cradling a special item like a bible, or photographs of loved ones. Their personal wishes are fulfilled whenever possible.

– In natural or ‘green’ burials, the body is simply laid in a biodegradable shroud or container without embalming.

Closing the Casket

Once the deceased is respectfully positioned inside the casket, the lid can be gently closed. Some families wish to have a final viewing before closing. When ready, the lid is slowly lowered over the body, concealing it fully within the casket. Any floral arrangements are arranged nicely around the outside. The casket will remain closed for funeral services before burial or cremation. It serves as the final resting place delivering the deceased to their eternal slumber.


Laying a body in a casket is done with great care and empathy by funeral directors. They compassionately prepare the deceased for their final journey in accordance with family wishes. Respectful positioning and attention to detail provides solace to grieving loved ones. The deceased is honored with dignity as they are laid to eternal rest inside a carefully selected casket. Though a somber task, a proper casket placement helps provide closure.

Step Description
1 Complete embalming procedure
2 Dress and prepare the body
3 Ready the casket with any personal items or flowers
4 Transfer the body feet first into the casket
5 Straighten and position the body, arms and legs
6 Support the head and neck with a pillow or block
7 Neatly arrange the hair, clothing and other items
8 Allow family to have a final viewing if desired
9 Close the casket lid over the body
10 Finish decorating the casket exterior

Key Considerations

  • Treating the deceased with dignity and respect
  • Positioning the body straight, flat and centered
  • Supporting the head and neck
  • Straightening the arms and legs
  • Fulfilling family wishes and cultural traditions
  • Allowing for a final viewing if requested
  • Closing the casket gently and reverently

Laying a body in a casket is a solemn process that requires compassion and attention to detail. Funeral directors strive to provide families comfort during this difficult time. Proper positioning and preparations allow loved ones to find closure as the deceased is laid to rest. Though heartbreaking, a final casket placement can also represent a peaceful transition celebrating a life lived.

Frequently Asked Questions

What position is the body placed in inside the casket?

The standard position is lying flat on the back with the head slightly elevated by a pillow or block. The arms are straightened at the sides, while the legs are also straight with ankles and feet together.

Who is responsible for laying the body in the casket?

Funeral home staff handle carefully transferring and positioning the deceased. The funeral director oversees the entire process.

Can family members participate?

Yes, at the family’s request they may assist with placing personal mementos or having a final viewing. Some may wish to drape a flag, rosary or flowers over the body.

What if the casket seems too small?

Funeral directors are very experienced at safely positioning bodies in caskets. Discreet padding and supports can be used if needed for a proper fit.

How is the lid closed and sealed?

Lids are closed gently by hand. Some caskets have a protective inner liner that is inflated to help secure the seal before burial or cremation. Others may be sealed with adhesive.

Can the body be displayed in an open casket?

Yes, the deceased can be presented for open casket viewing if that is the family’s wish. The funeral home will prepare the body carefully for an open casket service.

What if a person was cremated, not buried?

Their ashes are reverently placed into an urn chosen by the family. The urn may be kept or buried in a cemetery. Some ashes are scattered in special places.

Laying a body to rest in a casket is a time-honored tradition and an important part of the funeral process. Though somber, the ritual provides families comfort during bereavement. With dignity and care, funeral professionals compassionately prepare our loved ones for their final journey.

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