The Value of the Open Casket

open casketI was surprised by the open casket. While I have been to other funeral’s, I have not been involved in the funeral planning — I won’t complain about being a newbie to this task at 49 years of age.

When I shared my expectation of our visit with my brother, had we been in better humor, he would have just given me a look and added “dope”. It’s funny how much of  our banter hasn’t really changed over the decades.

We both commented that we’d never choose an open casket, but a few days later, I’m happy I had the experience. My Dad looked stately and peaceful. He was in his “dress blues” which is akin to a military tuxedo. I typed up the obituary he wrote in the event of his death, and in it, he shared that “Duty, Honor, Country” are the words he felt fit his entire career as an engineer in the U.S. Army.

While my Dad had dementia and some days he was a little less put together, he still resembled his former self, just a little tuned-out.  My Dad’s appearance changed drastically over the last two months of his life. He lost nearly 50 pounds and his tongue and throat started to swell.

The last time I got to see him in his open casket, I got to revisit the father, the soldier, the man he should be remembered as. Moved. 

12 thoughts on “The Value of the Open Casket

  1. Kay: I am so sorry for your loss. Keep the memories with you of the man your father was before dementia started to take him away. That is how he should be remembered. Wish I could give you a big hug but a cyber hug will have to do.

  2. Kay: I read your father’s obituary in the NYT on Sunday. I was surprised to see it, but pleased to learn more about him. My thoughts and sympathies to you and your family.

  3. Dear Kay,
    I have been reading your blogs, and thinking of you every day as you and your family face the loss of your dear father, the man whosze “Duty, Honor, Country” was so much a part of him, ad as you should remember him.
    Your words, “While my Dad had dementia and some days he was a little less put together, he still resembled his former self, just a little tuned-out.” have really resonated with me, so beautiful, and gracefully accepting him as he was. Thank you.
    May your heart grieve with peace, and may the memories of him as your beloved father stay with you forever. My sincere sympathyv for your loss.
    With love and hugs,

  4. Kay –
    Thanks for sharing this moving moment. I have lost both my parents already (at 48!) and I feel your pain. We are the family leaders now…!?!! Big shoes to fill.

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