Touching the Dead at a Funeral

My friend has asked me about kissing or touching (in a loving manner) the body of a relative at a catholic funeral. I told her that I did not think it was inappropriate. Is it?

I can’t see why not - I’m sure that Mary lovingly held her Son’s body in her arms when He was returned to her from the cross.

As long as one is respectful I can’t see a single problem with this.


Yea, I kissed my dad on the forehead when he was in his coffin. What would prompt anyone to think that something is wrong with that? We are body/soul entities and just because the soul is no longer with the body does not make the body untouchable…teachccd :confused:

I don’t see anything wrong with it (as long as the family approves). Some parents hold their little one for the last time during the visitation.

Personally, touching the deceased is the last thing I want to do. I didn’t touch my parents or my in-laws but that’s just me, my brothers had no such reservations. FWIW, I’ve rarely attended a funeral where the coffin was open so I think if you really want to kiss or touch the body you’d have to do it at the funeral home.

OTOH, in the native community next to ours, part of their funeral tradition is for everyone to kiss the body of the deceased at the end of the funeral Mass. I’ve never been to one but their funerals have been known to last 4, 5 & even 6 hours.

I have touched many a hand of a deceased loved one through the years and I do not regret it at all. What I regret is that there are so many cremations anymore where that is not possible…:crying:

I don’t touch always touch the body of the deceased. As a PP mentioned, parents sometimes hold their children for the last time. That’s exactly what I did at my son’s funeral. Now, we all realize the soul is gone, but it’s the last chance we have on earth to physically touch our loved ones.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a person who makes the choice not to touch a dead body. I wouldn’t say it’s inappropriate though as long as it’s done tastefully.

I think it is up to each person to decide whether they wish to touch the dead person at a funeral or elsewhere and they should not be criticised for whichever choice they make.

It’s not something I do but I have friends who think this is strange and find my talking to them strange. I only think my behaviour would be strange if I expected an answer.

It used to creep me out, but that was a long time ago. Nothing at all wrong with it. Unless the deceased died of something highly contagious. Then I think I would pass.


In Ireland, most RC’s touch the hand of the dead person (relative or not); some lightly kiss the forehead.

It is a sign of your love & respect for that person. It also demonstrates that you are not afraid of death since it isn’t the end, only the beginning. It also acknowledges that soon you will be in the same position.

Children are also shown the dead person to understand that he/she has ‘gone to Heaven’

Really healthy custom; why fear death if you really believe?

When my mother passed away my father made me touch her hand during the visitation to make concrete that she was deceased. I hated having to touch her.

At the end of the funeral mass for my grandmother, the priest had the casket opened and allowed everyone to process past and sprinkle her body with holy water. This was very meaningful for me as it acknowledge the holiness of the body (one day it will be reunited with her soul) and it paid tribute to my grandmother’s strong faith.

When my grandfather, who was not Catholic, passed away there was no visitation and he was cremated. This was the absolutely the hardest one for me. I had not seen him for at least a year before he passed away, there was no opportunity to see him after his death and when I went to the internment, all that was left of him was a small box.

i also kissed the the forhead of a deceased relative personally it is my last good-bye to him before I to go to heaven.

Everyone has their own personal preferences. There is no right or wrong answer for this question.

I worked at a mortuary for a year and a half. Many families felt comforted touching the hand or kissing the brow of their loved one. The spirit has left, yes, but what remains resembles that of something they are mourning, and missing dearly. It may help in their mourning process and for the sake of closure to see and touch the body. I have seen families take a lock of hair. They put favorite candy in a coat pocket.

Other families are not comfortable with it, and therefore do not. If you feel that this is something you want to do, then by all means touch them and show your love in that manner.

Oh I didn’t know that.

In my youth, among certain ethnic groups, no funeral would have been considered complete without a hysterical, shrieking woman trying to jump into the coffin, while relatives physically restained her and offered smelling salts.

Those who eschew such histrionics are considered to be emotionally defective.

This made me giggle, Mercygate lol I can just picture it.

That is interesting. I’ve never seen that done before and I’ve been to many Catholic funeral Masses. I am a cradle Catholic from an entirely Catholic family and extended family and I grew up in a largely Catholic community. I have never seen an open casket at any funeral Mass before. The casket was always closed for the final time at the funeral home the morning of the funeral and then brought to Church for Mass.

Actually, I’ve never seen an open casket at any of the funerals I’ve been to, (though almost all that I’ve attended have been Catholic funerals), so I wonder if other denominations sometimes have open caskets in their churches whereas Catholics generally do not? I would think most do not have an open casket, so I think it might be unusual, but really don’t know for sure.

I have never seen an open casket at a funeral mass. At the mortuary is where the casket is usually opened for the viewing. Before Mass and the funeral.

I agree. An open casket at a funeral Mass is something I’ve never experienced. I think it must be most unusual.

To me if I were at a funeral where no one kissed the diseased I would think it strange. I can’t imagine not giving them a kiss good-bye.