No one ever plans on choosing a coffin. When dealing with the loss of someone you love, planning their funeral can be one of the most daunting tasks. With any decision you make, it’s important that you have all the information you need as well as the advice of people who know what they’re doing. Here at Wallace Stuart Limited, we stand beside you throughout the entire planning process and the celebration of life itself. We’re here to hold your hand as you choose the right coffin to help ensure their send-off is as memorable as the person themselves.
Do You Need a Coffin?
One of the most asked questions we get here is, ‘Do I need a coffin for a cremation?’. The answer is yes and no. Legally, there is no requirement for a coffin at a cremation. The only law here in the UK is that a body needs to be covered up in public. However, in practicality, you will need to organise for some sort of coffin, even if this is a simply constructed one. Before someone is cremated, all crematoriums will request that they are placed within a coffin or a shroud. This is due to practicalities during the actual cremation.
Choosing a Coffin
Finding the right coffin comes down to 5 key points:
- Make one yourself! We have helped many families design and make their own coffin for their loved one.
Taking into account cost will allow you to choose an appropriate coffin that still fits the personality of your loved one. Regardless of how much you have to spend, you’ll still be able to find something suitable that gives you comfort as you lay them to rest. On average, a solid-wood coffin will cost you around £953. If you’re looking for thick padding, similar to those found on American-style solid wood caskets, you’re looking more in the region of £1200.
At the other end of the scale, plain single-colour coffins made from cardboard can start at £195 and go up to prices around £650, if printed or finished in a unique way. If you’re having trouble paying for the funeral and coffin, the Funeral Expenses Payment is a government-funded scheme to help with funeral costs for those on benefits. These will cover the cost of a basic coffin, along with burial/cremation feeds and death certs etc.
Materials & Eco-Friendly
Another thing to consider when finding the right coffin is material. With modern technology, coffins can now be manufactured from a wide range of materials.
Typically, coffins are manufactured from wood due to it’s sturdy and hardwearing nature. Within this, you can have solid oak, pine, mahogany and poplar wood along with a number of veneer options too. Solid wood variations, especially those made from harder woods, are generally more expensive and can be made with detailed finishes, such as engraving or varnishes. Wood veneer caskets give the same look but come with a much smaller price tag.
If you’re looking for something more durable, perhaps due to the environmental characteristics of your chosen burial site, there are also metal coffins. The most common ones are constructed from stainless steel with variances in gauge thickness. Metal coffins are generally built with rubber gaskets which seal the lid to prevent exposure. If you’re looking to invest more or want something more luxurious, some coffin manufacturers will create copper, bronze or even gold designs. Both bronze and copper are non-rusting, making them longer-lasting and generally more expensive. Metal coffins are not suitable for cremation or natural burials.
Opting for something more environmentally friendly has become a popular trend in recent years. This is where cardboard coffins have come into play. They are typically manufactured from corrugated cardboard – a material that is recognised for being recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. When cremated, cardboard coffins produce 90% fewer carbon emissions than standard wooden coffins. They can be printed with photos, messages or quotes from loved ones and are ideal for personalisation. Cardboard coffins are a particularly favourable choice for natural or woodland burials as they don’t harm the soil or surrounding plant life.
Another sustainable option is a wicker coffin. These are more ornate than cardboard coffins and can be accented with coloured details. In addition, wicker is an environmentally friendly material, breaking down within 6 months to 2 years. Because they are woven, they don’t contain any toxic glues, varnishes, plastics and metals.
Personalising a coffin allows you to come to peace with the loss of a loved one. It helps to commemorate the life they’ve lived, pays homage to the memories they’ve created and allows friends and family to leave their mark. There are many ways you can personalise a coffin.
Particularly relevant to cardboard coffins, you have them created with printed images, quotes or special graphics. These can be entirely personable – perhaps you choose photos of them surrounded by family or snaps of them doing the things they loved the most. Perhaps you get everyone attending to write down their favourite memory and these words get printed on to the coffin. Or, maybe you use the colours of their favourite sports team to give them the send-off they deserve.
Some manufacturers will craft the frame of the coffin from a biodegradable material before printing images onto paper. This is then wrapped around and bonded to the box, allowing you to create any design you desire.
For something more luxurious with the ‘wow-factor’, glitter coffins have become an increasingly popular choice. They are made bespoke and upholstered by hand. The chunky crackle glitter can be applied in a range of colours and capture the light during the ceremony. They are typically manufactured from MDF and then covered with a diamond glitter paper. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of this, some manufacturers use non-chlorinated plastic glitter shards and 100% cotton-backed cloth. There are also biodegradable glitter options available. Prices at art at around £650.
Our quoted prices include the cost of a traditional, wood veneer coffin which is lined and fitted and has brass effect handles and name-plate. These coffins are suitable for both burial and cremation and are very popular with our families. We believe a coffin should be affordable but still respectful and traditional. Other designs with inlays and carvings are available at extra cost if desired. The coffins can be in oak veneer or mahogany effect.
Planning a funeral isn’t something that any of us dream of doing. But, for many, it is the last opportunity to show a loved one how much they truly touched the hearts of those around them but we honestly believe a good funeral does not need to cost the earth and you will feel proud of the funeral we put together, without spending hundreds of pounds.
If you would like any assistance during this time or are looking for an independent funeral director in Taunton, please get in touch with Sarah or Lel today.