Decision Making

Decision-Making when Death Comes

The death of a spouse, family member, or close friend can be accompanied by emotions that seem overwhelming. Yet loved ones may be called upon to make very practical, urgent decisions. In addition to pastoral care, the following outline is intended to assist in decision making when death comes.

Actions upon Death

Decisions Concerning the Body

In our tradition, Christians may consider a number of options for the physical body of the deceased. Decisions about handling the body should be shared with the pastor and the funeral director. Choices include:

Viewing the Body

Whether or not to have a “viewing” is largely a matter of personal choice. Private viewing can sometimes be an important factor in longer term healing.

The church service focuses on worshiping God, consoling the living, and remembering the life of the deceased person. If the body is present at the church for the service, the casket customarily remains closed for the service.

Including Children

It is healthy to include children in the family’s sorrow, including a viewing. The family may wish to encourage, but not require, children’s participation at a viewing, funeral, or memorial service.

Reactions to death will vary with the age of the child. There will be questions that should be answered honestly and factually. To some questions, “I don’t know” is the best we can do. Answers stating what we believe will give children confidence in the future and in God who can be trusted.

Back to top


126 E. Chestnut Street
(at Michigan Avenue)
Chicago, Illinois 60611.2014
(Across from the Hancock)

For events in the Sanctuary,
enter from Michigan Avenue

Getting to Fourth Church

Receptionist: 312.787.4570

Directory: 312.787.2729



© 1998—2023 Fourth Presbyterian Church