The Real Reason People Are Buried Without Shoes

The next open casket funeral you go to, lift up the lid on the bottom half of the coffin. If you’re not too distracted by a bevy of loved ones yelling at you, scolding you, and shouting “how dare you,” you might notice that the deceased is not wearing shoes.

In fact, this is fairly common in burials, at least in Western culture.

You might guess the first reason for this immediately: Since many coffins only show the upper half of a dead person’s body, putting on shoes is simply unnecessary unless the family of the deceased requests it, according to Love to Know.

In fact, since these coffins only show half a person’s body, you could probably even get away with burying grandpa without pants, too (maybe that’s what he would have wanted?).

But there are other reasons for the dead going shoeless as well, including ecological, practical, and physical concerns.

Footloose and fancy-free (because you’re dead)

a skeleton in a closet

During a long illness, a suffering patient may lose weight to the point where their feet get smaller, according to Wilson’s Funeral Advice. After a person dies, their body undergoes an array of changes, such as rigor mortis, that may distort their extremities or even bloat them. In other words, it’s unpredictable whether or not any of the dead person’s shoes will even fit anymore.

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Though some companies have made special slippers for this purpose, a grieving family might not want to make an additional purchase during the expensive funeral process that many would consider unnecessary.

Many modern shoes are also made from artificial materials that take a long time to biodegrade and potentially drain chemicals into the soil (via JoinCake). For ecologically-minded families, particularly those opting for an otherwise green burial, this might be unacceptable.

Besides, have you seen the price of quality shoes these days? One traditional way of dealing with a deceased person’s shoes is to give them away as gifts.

 

In the Middle Ages, they could be bequeathed by name in a person’s will, according to Love to Know. This didn’t just have economic benefits, either — people believed this was a way of keeping the spirit of the dead person alive.

 

 

 

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