An interesting piece on death and mourning in modern compared to more traditional cultures from the Oxford University Press (OUP) blog.
Human relationships require huge investments and generate massive benefits, and we are not willing to let go of them unless we have unequivocal evidence that the person is dead…It is now generally accepted in the clinical literature that long-term outcomes are better for those who view the body of a loved one, as doing so is thought to help people come to terms with the death. Naturalistic data suggests that even in traumatic circumstances, viewing the body of a loved one may increase anxiety and distress in the short term, but is associated with less distress in the longer term. Conversely, not seeing the body is associated with more difficult, prolonged grief. Health care professionals often observe that spending time both viewing and touching the body of a deceased loved one is conducive to better outcomes. Grief is one of the most intensely stressful experiences faced by humans and modern practices may be retarding the process.
I particularly like the analogy of relationships as an investment. If you are interested, this article shares some other burial practices from around the world.