Why do people have coffins?
Coffins date back millennia In fact the oldest found in Ancient China are said to be more than 3,500 years old, which gives us some idea of how essential they are to most beliefs and rituals.
The main reason why people have coffin is to protect the body of the deceased. It is a barrier between the body and the environment around it. A coffin allows the human form to decay without interference from the elements and animals. In Medieval Europe, coffins were widely used to deter scavengers and graverobbers for example.
Even when there’s a cremation, a coffin is necessary for transporting the body to the crematorium. If someone has an open coffin or casket it enables loved ones to view the body prior to the funeral. And there are other uses the coffin may have such as a way of expressing who the person was. A bespoke coffin in the shape of a guitar, or sports car tells a story about the deceased.
What types of coffins are there?
Firstly, there are coffins and caskets – and there is a difference.
- A coffin is usually a sarcophagus shape. This is a hexagonal design which is widest at the shoulder area so that it mirrors the shape of the human body.
- A casket is a regular rectangle and half of it may be hinged enabling the deceased to be viewed by mourners. This is what is known as an open casket.
Coffins come in many different materials and styles, ranging from the traditional coffin made from oak or other kind of durable wood. Another style which is becoming increasingly popular is the hand-woven or wicker coffin which as well as being an eco-friendly material is more natural and less austere in look. You can also opt for a cardboard coffin which is the most economical eco-friendly option. Usually made out of biodegradable cardboard, it is lightweight and easy to transport. Plus it’s possible to customise it with eco-friendly paint and photographs, making it a unique and personal option.
Other types of coffins include bamboo, fabric and coffins made from dried banana leaves. You can also have coffins made bespoke and colourful one-offs, tailored to reflect the characters, tastes and achievements of loved ones.
How much does a coffin cost?
The very cheapest coffins, normally made out of biodegradable cardboard, can be purchased in the low hundreds with the low thousands being the starting price for something more elaborate.
In general, caskets are more expensive, with prices ranging up-to and beyond £10,000. These can be bespoke and created out of a range of materials.
Where do you buy a coffin from?
Many people buy their coffin from the funeral director. Often when someone dies it is simply easier for loved ones to hand everything over to those with the experience to help. The funeral director will go through all the options with you and suggest types of coffin for your budget, however it is possible for you to source your own coffin, as funeral directors are legally obliged to let you buy the coffin elsewhere.
If you need advice about coffins or require advice and help at this difficult time then please do not hesitate to contact us.