What is a casket?

When most people picture a funeral service, they see what they call a casket. That’s because a casket is used at most of the world’s funerals. Hence, for families, the distinction between a casket and a coffin is particularly important. A casket can also mean a special box where the jewelry or important documents can be stored.

A casket is a specially designed box that is made to contain the body of a deceased. It’s typically used for body viewing during a funeral service. Then, if the family has not chosen a burial cremation, during the burial ceremony, the casket that contains the body is lowered into the ground.

The casket is not always removed if the family has selected cremation for their loved one (or they’ve prearranged it themselves).

Materials on the casket are mainly stylistic. There is no casket material capable of preserving a body forever, and no material that enhances the basic function of a casket.

Specific casket characteristics include:

  • Interior liners or cloth inside the casket that can be sold as puncture-resistant and leak-proof and generally made of polyester, satin or velvet.
  • Commemorative panels, embroidered indoors of the casket lid.
  • External raising device, which tilts the inside of the casket so that the body can be viewed at an angle in the case of a viewing, reception or open casket funeral.
  • “Memory tube,” a tiny glass tube which screws into the casket. In case something should happen to the casket (if the casket is dislodged from its space in a mausoleum or crypt, or unearthed from the ground), the deceased’s identity can be easily known without the remains being exhumed.
  • Exterior features, like handles or decorations.

Things to take note when choosing a casket

Choosing a casket is an entirely personal preference. You may want to ask for a price list before seeing the caskets at a funeral home or casket showroom so you can get a sense of the styles and prices of the caskets offered, or find out how much money you’d like to pay before visiting the showroom.

It is important to remember when shopping for a casket, that you are being offered a commodity.

Research has shown that when a customer has three caskets to choose from, he or she will most often choose the casket priced in the middle, no matter how high that price may be. Check for a full casket price list before any of the caskets are shown; many casket showrooms have less costly caskets for sale but not for display on the showroom floor.