A casket or coffin is a container used to display and hold the deceased for either a burial or cremation. The term casket and coffin is basically the same but some people feel that there is a small difference. A coffin is a tapered hexagonal or octagonal box whereas a casket is a rectangular box with a split lid. In this article, we will use them interchangeably.
A casket is generally the most expensive item for your funeral. When shopping for a casket at the funeral home, the funeral director generally shows you the higher priced caskets. Studies have shown that on average, the casket shopper buys one of the first three caskets shown and usually picks the middle priced of the three. The funeral rule states that funeral directors have to show you a list of all their caskets therefore if you haven't seen the lower priced caskets, ask them to see them.
There are many places to buy caskets. If the prices at the funeral home seem too high, remember to write down the model number on the checklist and search online. Remember that if you do buy it from somewhere else, the funeral home is required to accept it without charging you extra.
Remember that caskets are really only for "looks". It does not matter if the casket costs $2000 or $20,000. No casket will preserve a body forever. Most metal caskets are advertised as having a "gasket, protector, or sealer ". All they mean is that the casket has a rubber gasket or something of the like designed to delay water from going into the casket and to prevent rust. In fact, airtight coffins might actually speed up the decomposition process! The funeral rule does not allow the funeral home to claim that these features will preserve the remains indefinitely because they don't.
Caskets for Cremation
Funeral directors are not allowed to tell you that state law requires a casket for cremations! They are required to offer inexpensive wood boxes or an alternative container that is cremated with the body. If you want to have visitation and viewing, you can ask the funeral home about renting a casket. Do NOT pay for an expensive casket if it is not needed.