Material world: coffins are no longer simply wooden

But aren’t coffins just wooden boxes? Read on to find out...

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“Down on the farm” coffin… can you guess the material?

If asked to picture a coffin, many people will probably conjure up the image of a wooden box with metal handles.  However, the reality is that coffins are now available in a wide variety of materials and styles.  Although the choice of coffin may be partially-determined by what will happen to it – for instance, coffins for cremation in the UK must pass certain emissions tests, and those receiving a natural burial must be completely biodegradable – generally the only limit now is our imaginations.

A particularly popular choice for coffins now is willow – woven in the style of a picnic hamper, these are often a great example of craftsmanship, as there are several companies in the UK who hand-make these products.  Somerset Willow offers a particularly fine choice, and the willow used is grown locally on their own land.  What may surprise some people is that the willow can be dyed a variety of colours, whether a person wishes to simply have coloured banding and handles, or a full-colour coffin (bright pink and rainbow versions have previously been designed!), there are all sorts of options available.

Another popular choice is cardboard, partly because it is even more adaptable than willow.  In addition to different colours, it’s possible to choose different images to be printed onto the coffin, whether these are stock images sourced by the manufacturer, or personalised ones sourced by the customer.  This option offers a unique way to remember someone, whether it’s printing a chosen flag on their coffin, an image of their favourite animals, or perhaps a favourite landscape.  People are often surprised by the range of options available thanks to cardboard coffins, with our chosen “Down on the Farm” coffin proving particularly attractive to visitors at the South of England Show in 2018.  One lady even remarked, “I don’t mind the thought of dying now that I know I can have sheep on my coffin.”

Some cardboard coffins are manufactured in a more plain style, and developed particularly for family and friends of the deceased to decorate the coffin in the style of their choice.  Coffins have been painted or drawn on in order for people to leave messages, or commemorate the person with a completely personalised motif.

Perhaps a less widely-recognised choice of coffin material is woolMade in the UK, these coffins use specially-processed wool which results in a felted-style material, available in ivory and grey.  Matching ashes caskets are available, which provide an alternative option to traditional urns.

The increasing customisation and choice when it comes to coffins is another example of why it’s important to discuss your wishes with your loved ones prior to your death.  Whether you have a strong preference or not, it is good to communicate this to those who are likely to be making the arrangements, rather than leaving this to guesswork in your absence.  This and many other details may be recorded on our Big Deal, Small Talk leaflet, so that when the time comes, the appropriate arrangements can be made.

Do you have a preference for your coffin?  Will it be an image celebrating one of your interests, or a more traditional style?  Let us know in the comments.


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Written by Becky Hughes

Community Co-Ordinator

October 10, 2018

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