Different cultures have different norms and customs when it comes to death and burial, as “Lovetoknow.com” explains. Many individuals have pondered the origin of the custom of not burying the deceased with their footwear. Both philosophical and practical considerations provide justification for the custom. Understanding tradition is made easier once one grasps the compelling reasoning behind the action.
Why Don’t Shoeless Bodies Go to the Grave?
The first possible explanation may be obvious: According to “Lovetoknow.com,” putting on shoes is unnecessary as many coffins only expose the upper half of a dead person’s torso. You could get away with burying grandpa sans pants, too, since these coffins only reveal half a person’s body (maybe that’s what he would have wanted?).
The deceased often don’t wear shoes out of ecological, practical, and even physical considerations.
It’s a stroke of luck if those shoes actually fit.
According to Wilson’s Funeral Advice, a patient’s feet may shrink due to weight loss during a protracted sickness. A variety of postmortem alterations, such as rigor mortis, can cause a deceased person’s limbs to become misshapen or bloated. To rephrase, it’s hard to say if any of the deceased person’s footwear will still fit.
The pollution level in one’s shoes is quite high.
Many contemporary footwear styles are crafted from synthetic materials that can leach toxins into the soil and take a very long time to biodegrade (via Everyday Health). For environmentally conscious families, especially those planning a “green” funeral, this may not be acceptable. According to Funeral Guide, many garments should not be buried in a green cemetery.
Burial Vaults & Wills.
Rather than a suit or dress, it is culturally appropriate for some people to be buried in a burial shroud (or pajamas, or superhero costume, or whatever else the people involved have decided on). The length of the shroud is sufficient to conceal the wearer’s feet, therefore shoes are not required (but booties may be provided just in case) (as reported by Lovetoknow.com).
For example, according to My Jewish Learning, a tachrichim, a white linen shroud, is worn by the deceased in Jewish funerals. While the practice is most commonly associated with Islam (as detailed in Islamic Burial), funeral shrouds are prevalent in cultures all throughout the world.