When planning a funeral service, we try to keep in mind that the service is for the living and not for the dead. However, we certainly try to follow the wishes of the deceased if they provided suggestions before they died.
The casket is closed at a funeral service, and it may be covered with a pall. As testimony of the presence of the living Christ, a paschal candle is lighted and stands by the casket if the funeral takes place in church and the congregation uses such a candle.
Viewing the body before a funeral, however, can be a helpful part of grieving for people in our society, particularly when they have not been present at the death. It can help them to come to grips with the reality of this death.
Some families prefer to have a small funeral followed by the committal service attended by immediate family and a few close friends. Then at a time when it is easier for others to attend, a memorial service is held at the church.
Many are also unaware that the celebration of Holy Communion can be part of Lutheran funeral services. From personal experience, I can tell you that many people who have never been part of such a service come away talking about how surprised they were at how much they appreciated it and how enriched they were by it.