How to choose clothes for the coffin
How to choose clothes for the coffin
Whatever you do, don’t take MY lead in this important decision. I mean, I sent my husband into the afterlife with no underwear on! Yes, you read that right. He attended his own funeral….COMMANDO! 😂
I’m not giving myself a hard time about it though. When the person you love dies suddenly, there is so much you are not prepared for, but I was particularly unprepared when the Funeral Director said “Can you please bring in a set of clothing for Norbert to wear for his funeral.”
It had only been a few days since the Police knocked on my front door and told me the horrifying news that my husband had died. News that sent me into a spiral downwards and into my own personal nightmare.
“Clothing”? I mumbled blankly. “Yes,” the Funeral Director said with a gentle smile, “We can’t send Norbert on his way with no clothes on.” I remember him explaining that some family members bring in a suit, but unless Norbert was the kind of guy who regularly wore a suit, it was best to bring in clothing items which were more ‘his style’.
I went home and in a daze I looked at his clothes hanging in the wardrobe. The decision ended up being fairly obvious to me because I asked myself the question … what would Norbert feel comfortable in? What was his favourite type of clothing?
The fact that we lived in an area of sub-tropical climate was very evident in his wardrobe, as it was filled with short sleeve, cotton shirts.
He was particularly partial to brightly coloured tropical-style shirts. Unfortunately one of his favourites was the one he was wearing on the day he died, but I chose his second favourite one, and teemed it with some comfy cargo shorts and his leather sandals.
I laid everything out on the bed, and I took this photo so I would always remember what he was wearing. That is possibly a little odd but I make no apologies for all the strange things I did back then.
I cried when I took it all in to the Funeral Home, but the items were tenderly taken from my arms and whisked away.
It wasn’t an open casket at the funeral (although I did eventually choose to view his body in the coffin) however I recall sitting at the funeral with the coffin in front of me, and saying to myself “It’s OK, I know what he looks like inside that box.”
The fact that I could picture him in one of his favourite shirts and comfy shorts was…well…comforting in some weird way.
A few days ago I was sorting through photos on my computer and quite accidentally I came across the photo (the one above) that I’d taken of Norbert’s clothing….and in my now NOT so befuddled state, something immediately occurred to me.
I thought “Where is the underwear! Eeeek!!!! Did I forget them?” 😬
Umm….yes I definitely did, and the kindly people at the Funeral Home didn’t say a word although after reading this article, I am probably not the first person to forget this important clothing item in their grieving state.
“Remember the little things: Provide underwear! Many funeral directors will not dress a body without proper underwear.”Dressing the Deceased
The other thing I didn’t realise was about my choice of shoes.
I would have preferred to take in his very favourite thongs (flip-flops for my US friends) but again, he was wearing them on that fateful day, so I never got them back. Instead I chose his dressier leather sandals.
It turns out that shoes are unnecessary anyway. Also, he was being cremated and although I didn’t know it at the time, there are regulations regarding this situation.
“Cremation clothes are different from burial clothes, because a number of items cannot be cremated…[These] include …treated leather, such as shoes, boots and biker jackets.”Funeral Guide – Burial Clothes
It’s a good thing that three years went by before I noticed my little mistake as if the realisation had been closer to that horrific time, it would have reduced me to inconsolable tears. But three years later, I find I can actually laugh! Silly me! 😋
At the time I was living in a complete fog though, and only using a small section of my brain which was barely enough to keep me upright. I wasn’t sleeping and felt like I was on remote control.
The number of decisions that you have to make in the days following a death can feel absolutely overwhelming and…well….the fact that I forgot one teeny little thing I feel is quite understandable.
Importantly, I forgive myself for that little oversight. I’m not the same person as I was back then, and this might hopefully provide some comfort for those who are struggling with it all right now.
Because now I can chuckle to myself as I imagine Norbert’s spirit hovering around me during the funeral, sending me urgent vibes such as…”Marlene, have we forgotten something? I’m feeling a bit breezy!” 😋
If you have been faced with the need to provide clothing for your loved one, what choices did you make?
Or from a different perspective….what would YOU like to be wearing for your own funeral? Me? Just something comfy but a personal note to my own family … PLEASE remember my underwear! 🤣🤣🤣
Marlene is an Australian widow who has written about all the good, bad and ugly stuff that happened after her husband Norbert died tragically. Marlene responds to all comments.