The Greeks believed that when a person dies, his spirit or psyche leaves the physical body in the form of a little breath or puff of air. The deceased was then prepared for burial.
The remains of the body, or ashes, if cremated, were placed inside the tomb specially built for the deceased. Immortality lay in the continued remembrance of the deceased person by family members.
The interment of the body, either the bones or ashes, had to be duly buried in the earth in order to bring happiness and peace to the soul of the deceased person.
Those who did not receive proper funeral rites were doomed to wander by the river Styx, the entrance to the Underworld, for eternity; their souls could never be at rest. Thus, denying burial to a corpse not only insulted the body, but also damned his soul for all time.
Burying and mourning their dead relatives gave women an opportunity to do something important. It brought women to the fore and gave them a role to play in a society where they were not viewed as equal citizens. When Creon forbade the burial of Polynices, he denied Antigone the chance to do one of the few important things society allowed women to do. Thus, he attacked her identity, and that was a primary reason she opposed him.