Saying Goodbye - Funeral Casket and
By Ben Nystrom
When someone close to you dies, the process of arranging
a burial or memorial ceremony, as well as all the other
aspects that come with the death of a loved one, can be
overwhelming. One aspect of planning a funeral or
ceremony that should not cause you stress is deciding on
the type of casket or burial vessel for your loved one.
Perhaps the deceased expressed interest in a certain
type of casket or vessel. Perhaps the deceased's
religious traditions require a specific type of casket.
Perhaps you've been left to pick the right type of
casket or vessel without any input from those close to
the deceased. Whatever the case, knowing the basic types
of caskets and burial vessels will help you make the
correct choice without a lot of thought and fuss.
The important thing to remember when picking out a
casket is that there really is no right or wrong type.
Most people look for caskets within a designated budget,
cemetery restrictions, or religious or cultural
expectations. The traditional funeral casket is usually
made out of one of many types of solid wood; maple, oak,
pine, mahogany, poplar, cherry, even walnut. Though most
traditional caskets are lined with satin or other soft,
pleasant fabrics, they can also be personalized by the
deceased's friends and family. A favorite blanket,
pillow, or fabric can be redesigned to act as the lining
of the casket, and some people inscribe quotations or
paint the outside of the casket to match it with the
deceased's unique personality.
Green burials, ceremonies that involve biodegradable
caskets, are becoming increasingly popular these days.
Biodegradable vessels are made of material that will
biodegrade over time and cause no harm to the earth.
Green ceremonies are often used everyday as a park or
garden and encourage sustainable growing practices.
Cremation equipment uses harmful fuel to operate and
often produce toxic pollutants that put mercury into the
atmosphere. Green burial practices help give back to the
earth, creating an area of land that is very rich in
soil quality and preserves the area's natural habitat.
Religion and Caskets
Some religions call for very specific types of caskets
or burial vessels. In traditional Jewish law, simple
wooden caskets must be used in a burial ceremony. Metal
parts are not allowed. Many African cultures place their
dead in caskets that are shaped to resemble familiar
objects, such as a favorite animal. In Japan, however,
caskets are often made out of cedar or cypress. These
types of caskets do not decompose and have an appealing
scent, preserving the deceased in a way that mirrors the
culture's view on ancestors and honoring the dead.
Cremation and Urns
Cremation is still a very popular burial practice, so it
makes sense that there are a number of different types
of urns one can choose from. A lot of urns today are
made of long-lasting, metallic materials such as
stainless steel, brass, and bronze. Many people still
choose more classic style urns, though, such as those
made of granite, marble, or cloisonné. Urns aren't
limited to vases, either. Many funeral service providers
offer handsome box urns in a variety of designs, often
made of cultured marble or oak.
The cost of the casket or burial vessel depends greatly
on the kind and quality of the vessel. The average
casket sold in the U.S. costs around $2,000, although
cheaper caskets can be found on specialty websites and
wholesale companies. Of course, customized or
specialty-order caskets or burial vessels will cost more
than your basic vessel. Urns are significantly less
expensive, running anywhere from $100 to just under
$1,000, but the price of cremation adds to the overhaul
cost. Green burials are another significantly less
expensive alternative to traditional burials. The
average green burial is around $2,500, less than half
the cost of the average traditional burial. Green
burials are less expensive because the materials used in
the burial are cheaper and easier to come by, there are
no chemical embalming costs, and grave markers are often
natural landmarks from the surrounding area, cutting
down on headstone and traditional marker costs.
Funeral arrangements can be very difficult and
stressful. Without the proper preparation, you may end
up breaking a long-standing religious or family burial
tradition, harming the environment, or simply paying too
much for what you get. With a basic understanding of the
different types of caskets and burial vessels, however,
you can assure your recently departed loved one will
indeed rest in peace.