Reconsidering dress for modern funerals

Appelblatt, JeffThe deceased have always been buried in formal clothing in the past. It made the dead body “presentable.”
But now, changes are coming.

“We just buried a girl today in jeans and sneakers,” said Vince N. Baker, the owner and supervisor of Baker Funeral Home at 2008 N. Broad St., on Friday. “Years ago, it was customary for somebody to be dressed in a suit and a tie. [But] things have changed. People are personalizing funeral services to [show] how [the deceased] lived and making it reflective of what they were in life.”

I say this is an adjustment.

Children are taught that no two people are the same, so there’s no reason to dress every person identically for their own funeral.
“Where before it would be very untraditional for us to bury a person in casual clothing, today it is more commonplace for us to do that,” Baker said.

Baker credits this change to the evolution of America as a whole.

“It’s just a generation change, that’s all it is,” said the third generation funeral director, who has been licensed for 22 years. “You used to have Generation X people. Generation X is now specific. They want personalization.

“It’s not like the generation before that, the Baby Boomers Generation,” Baker said. “They had a different mindset, a different understanding of traditions and norms and morals and how things should be.

“So it’s the different coming of the generations that are influencing the different styles and modes and models of funerals, because those are the people who are responsible, the people being serviced.”

I am 22 years old, and I am unsure what happens to the body after it is buried. But I do know that no matter how much a person enjoys dressing professionally, after an extended period of time, a suit is not the most comfortable thing to be wearing.

The time frames are debated, so I’m not sure if I fit into Generation X, which some think ended in 1982 while others say 1988, or Generation Y, but I do know that I prefer the idea of burying a corpse, a loved one, not only in something more comfortable than a
suit and tie, but also in something more representative of the person.

I’m glad to see that some who fit into the Baby Boomers age bracket were willing to accept this change.

That’s what change is about, taking what’s not working or what’s outdated and finding a way to please the population.

And now, so I can feel at home, I can tell my wife to have me buried in my favorite T-shirt and a pair of boxers – comfortable no matter the age.

Jeff Appelblatt can be reached at

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