Whether you’re planning a funeral in advance or purchasing a casket because a family member has recently died, you’ve never had more options than you do today.
Traditionally, families would visit their local funeral director after a loved one died, and the funeral director would take them to a showroom where some of his finest – and typically most expensive – caskets were displayed. The funeral director would point out each casket’s features, from plush bedding to water-tight gaskets to thick metal construction for durability. If asked, he would also show some basic caskets with fewer features and a lower price tag.
While most families still buy caskets this way, more and more are shopping for better deals or even foregoing the casket altogether. Because, with so many choices now available, it can be hard to sort through all the information, we offer the following guide to help you choose a casket that’s right for you or your loved one.
Federal Law Protects Consumers of Funeral Goods and Services
The Funeral Rule is a law established and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers when they are purchasing funeral services and merchandise. Familiarizing yourself with the provisions of the Funeral Rule before you meet with a funeral director can help you save thousands of dollars on your purchase. Here are some points from the Funeral Rule that apply specifically to caskets.
- The sole purpose of a casket is to contain the body during transportation and burial or cremation. It is illegal for a casket manufacturer or seller to claim that any casket will preserve a body indefinitely. A casket that is described as “sealed” or “air-tight” only refers to the casket’s ability to protect the body from water and the elements; no casket, no matter how well made or expensive, will preserve a body forever.
- The Funeral Rule requires the funeral director to provide you with a list of the styles and prices of the caskets available before showing the caskets to you. If you wish, you may ask to view only the caskets that fall within your price range.
- A funeral director cannot require you to purchase a casket from the funeral home you’ll be using. Under the conditions set forth in the Funeral Rule, the funeral director must take delivery on a casket you purchase from any source, without an additional fee for delivery acceptance. Perfect Memorials is one online retailer that carries caskets in a range of prices and variety of styles, ready for delivery to any location you choose.
A casket’s cost is determined mainly by the materials used in its construction. From low- cost cloth-covered or veneer caskets made of fiberboard or pressed wood, to beautiful hardwood caskets of mahogany, oak, or walnut, casket prices range from less than $1,000 to more than $10,000.If you want something more unique, you can even order a custom-made casket designed around a theme of your choosing. Custom-made caskets can be traditional caskets that bear the logo of a sports team or other artwork, or they can be custom built in the shape of a car, guitar, motorcycle or other object. You can even buy coffin furniture that can be used as a coffee table or cabinet until the casket is needed for its original purpose.
Going Green to Protect the Environment
Many people today are concerned (and rightfully so) about the environmental impacts of a traditional burial. “Green” caskets made of natural, biodegradable materials, like bamboo, wicker, sustainable woods, or recycled paper are relatively inexpensive and welcomed in natural burial grounds. In fact, some natural burial preserves don’t require a casket at all but allow the body to be buried in a simple linen shroud.
Regulations regarding green burials vary among locales and cemeteries, so be sure to check with the funeral home or cemetery to find out what is required.
What Do You Think?
Do you see the casket as something that reflects your love and regard for your deceased loved one? Or do you think the casket’s only function is to contain the body for burial, and spending a lot on an expensive casket is a waste of money?