After losing a loved one, a viewing or visitation can be a sweet moment of remembrance and an opportunity to say a final goodbye in person. As you put together this meaningful event, one thing you will need to decide is whether to use a full-couch or a half-couch casket. But what’s the difference between them? Let’s talk about it.
What is a Half-Couch Casket?
If you live in the United States, you are likely most familiar with a half-couch casket. This means that there’s a seam in the middle of the casket, which splits the lid into two different pieces. This design element allows you to open just the top or the bottom of the casket. At many viewings, the head section is open, so that mourners can see the face and torso of the person who has died. The lower half of the body remains covered by the bottom section of the lid.
What is a Full-Couch Casket?
While less common, full-couch caskets are also used across the United States. For example, singer James Brown was laid to rest in a full-couch casket after a viewing open to the public. The only difference from a half-couch casket is that the lid is one solid piece. When you open the casket, you see the entire body, though often the legs are covered with a blanket of some sort.
Does It Matter Which I Choose?
Ultimately, it’s up to your personal preference.
- Will facilitate an open- or closed-casket viewing or visitation
- Are appropriate for burial in a cemetery
- Are available in a variety of styles and materials
In some areas of the country, one type may be more popular than the other, but again, it boils down to preference. For closed-casket services, the full-couch offers a more “complete” look (no middle seam), which is important to some. However, since the lid completely closes on both types, either could be chosen for a closed-casket event.
If you’re on the fence and just aren’t sure which to choose, speak with a funeral professional about their experience helping other families. They can give you an insider’s view on the pros and cons of each type.
Are There Any Specific Benefits to Each Type?
While the main difference is the lid, there are subtle benefits to each type you may want to consider.
- Brings the focus to the deceased person’s face
- Some caskets cost less because the foot portion is less detailed (it won’t be seen)
- With a particularly tall person, the half-couch style can disguise the need to bend the knees to fit the body into the casket (oversized caskets are more expensive)
- Allows full view of the deceased’s body, which may be important for the family
- May meet religious needs or cultural norms for your area
- Commonly used when there is no viewing
As you can see, the only strong factor to pull you to one casket or the other is whether you have specific regional, cultural, or religious needs. Otherwise, you can select either option and get everything you need.
Does the Casket Type Affect Personalization Options?
In general, you can decorate and personalize however you want with both types. With flowers, the spray can either lay across the middle with a full-couch or on the lower portion of the half-couch (when the lid is open). For veterans, the U.S. flag will be placed in a slightly different location depending on whether you select full-couch or half-couch. Any other items you want to place on or around the casket can be arranged with the funeral professionals assisting you.
What About Cost?
All caskets – full-couch and half-couch – are available in a variety of styles and materials. This means that there’s going to be a range of prices. As an extreme example, if you get a gold-plated casket, it’s going to be expensive whether you choose full-couch or half-couch. If cost is a determining factor for you, then use that to guide whether you choose full- or half-couch. There are affordable options with both types, so you will be able to find something that meets your budget.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the differences between full-couch and half-couch caskets. If you’d like to know more about wood, steel, and eco-friendly caskets, take a minute to read “How to Select a Casket.”