While I don’t like open caskets, there are a few other places where people are looking at a family member’s dead body:
1. If a funeral home was used, the mortician would have taken care of the body. Thus, your ancestor may be found in the mortuary’s records. Most mortuaries today are listed in this Funeral Home website. You may search by state on this site. If the mortuary is no longer in business, contact today’s funeral home anyway. They may have inherited the funeral home records when it went out of business, or the local historical society may have received them.
2. If you can’t find a grave for your ancestor, it’s possible he may have donated his body to science and his corpse may have been sent to a medical school or university! In this case, contact the medical school or university near where he died and ask if he was taken there!
3. If your ancestor died as a result of a crime, search for a newspaper account of the crime, police reports, coroner’s investigation, court records, etc.
We tend to think that once someone is dead, that ends the paper trail about an ancestor, but there may be many more records, we just have to be creative in where we look for them!