The choice of a coffin or casket is one of the more significant decisions you can make when arranging a funeral.
Some people regard the coffin or casket as an important tribute to the deceased. It can also play a role in ‘personalising’ the service to reflect the individuality and/or lifestyle of the deceased.
The difference between coffins and caskets is basically one of design and construction. Coffins are predominantly tapered at the feet-end and are widest at the shoulders, whilst caskets are rectangular in shape. In some cases, caskets are constructed of better quality materials, and feature higher standards of workmanship.
Some people prefer a casket with either a fully hinged or half-hinged lid, together with superior interior lining, if they are planning to spend time with the deceased (viewing). A coffin is equally suitable for a viewing, with the lid either completely removed (coffin lids are not hinged), or left sitting crossways over the coffin.
It may be that the deceased will require a larger-sized coffin or casket. Your funeral director will advise you if this is the case, and which of their range of coffins and caskets are available in a special size.
If you have a small budget, keep in mind that most funeral directors will have a basic particle board coffin with no enhancing finish that can be covered with a church pall, a flag or a lovely fabric.
In most states, government legislation requires that a coffin/casket must be used for both cremations and burials, with exemptions for specified religions, cultures, burials at sea etc, when a shroud can be substituted.
For more information, please see the ‘Australian Coffins and Caskets Legislation’ for your State or Territory listed in our Useful Organisations section.