“Just bury me under the back tree in a cardboard box”. Ever heard this said by a loved one in jest… well don’t laugh! Now you can buy a cardboard box coffin, paint it with all your family’s love and send them off in a very personal way. And, you can plant them in the back yard too… with what we’re going to show you here… Sound depressing? Sorry… We’re trying to bring a bit of light to a dark topic today.
Have you ever managed the funeral arrangements for a loved one and been through the process of selecting a casket, arranging a crematorium and choosing an urn? I have. When my Grandmother died a decade ago my parents were overseas leaving me as the responsible person, putting these arrangements in place for her whilst my parents advised by phone and tried to seek the next flight home. And if I’d ever seen these on offer, I would have jumped at them both… the new way to celebrate the loss of a loved one (if it fits their personality that is)…. The cardboard coffin you can decorate with family love, and the biodegradable urn that will grow into a tree!. Now don’t go thinking that I am a greenie or anything. I am your everyday sentimental person. I just happen to think that in death it must be better to do something relevant and affordable than something glamorous and impersonal.
I remember being walked through the process of arranging my Grandma’s funeral by a very empathetic funeral home operator, rather numb at what I was doing and lost because I had never done this before. It was apparent to me that everyone had to have a casket and no one really wants to choose a crappy one for a loved one, even if it is going to be burned. You want to lay someone you love to rest in comfort, if it is the last thing you can do for them. It is at this time of life that we all get a bit sentimental, and perhaps even a bit superstitious, seeing the selections we make as highly personal and demonstrative of who our loved one was in life. But the thing most people don’t tell you (unless you watch too many of those seedy funeral planning commercials on breakfast and mid morning TV) is that wooden coffins are bloomin’ expensive and boring to look at!. I remember telling my dad this over the phone when I, a young thirty something had to arrange this, my first funeral. He said “select something nice, not the cheapest and not the most expensive. Something you think your Grandma would like! So I did.” But it was just a coffin. A wooden box with some metal trims and a nice finish to it. Fact is, a nice, elegant wooden casket can range in price from about $2,500 right up to and beyond $16,000. I guess it is OK if you are burying in it, but seems a bit impersonal and irrelevant if it is going to get burned in cremation.
So when my Mother in Law saw these featured in a magazine recently she rang me. We both have a bit of a penchant for making life personal and she thought that everyone here would want to know about this new phenomenon in funerals… The eco-friendly heavyweight ‘Cardboard Coffin’, designed and constructed in a way that apparently minimises environmental impact but also allows you to make the coffin into a kind of family celebration as everyone can get into the act of decorating it. And what makes it even better is, as cardboard it seems incredibly logical as an item to burn in cremation, and quite reasonably priced. There seems to be several different brands available in the Australian market, all of which are made from 100% recycled post-consumer cardboard.
I read a story about a family that bought one recently for a loved one, and on the day of the funeral, they made a ceremony or celebration of the more than 150 guests approaching the coffin and putting a handprint on it in paint. A beautiful thought in my opinion.
And what’s more, this delightful way of sending someone off comes at a much cheaper price than a timber box. The prices are not published, but in the US these retail for approx $560. There is an elaborate number of options available, with photos overlaid and all sorts of other fancies, bringing prices up to over $2000, even then, it seems cheap. And it includes all the comforts of silk linings, cushionings, elegant handles and other such fittings that you would expect for a loved one to go to peace in comfort.
Various providers also make cardboard coffins with a timber veneer, which effectively makes the coffin you buy look like the real, polished timber deal, but leaves you knowing it is a little more environmentally friendly.
The other thing, which I saw at the same time, that really inspired me was the biodegradable urn. Now I must admit to being a bit of an ashes-to-ashes person about death. I kind of expect I’ll be returned to the earth. For each of my children’s first birthdays I planted a tree in my garden to watch grow. I hope when I go, someone will plant a tree they can come and visit me at, and one day sit underneath. So when I saw this, I loved it… Imagine a little tree growing up from an urn full of a loved one’s ash and planting it in the in a favourite location of your family, for all to come and visit. I suspect that could become a really special place for the right person.
So tell me, do these eco-friendly and inexpensive options for coffins and urns interest you? Would you choose one for a loved one? Would you want one for yourself?