Okay. I get it. But bend your mind for a minute here. That’s what I’m always trying to get you to do, in my writing, isn’t it? (and lest you think you are the only victims, I am always trying to do this with my own mind as well.) I think it’s a good thing to ‘bend’ or ‘stretch’ one’s thinking a bit. It’s good to challenge concepts or opinions or pre-conceived ideas. We like our pre-conceived ideas, don’t we? We’ve often spent a good long while working on them, refining them, polishing them. We’re often quite proud of them. But let me say, it can really be liberating to let them go sometimes!
Cardboard Cremation Caskets
Whenever I mention these as one of the options for people in speaking about home funerals, I see people sort of frown or smirk…. "Cardboard?...CARD Board? I’m gonna put someone in CARDBOARD?" Well I suppose it can seem a bit odd, yes. And why is that? Once again, it’s a cultural belief system in operation. It’s because we have all these associations with 'cardboard boxes' and their basic unworthiness.
Like now, for instance…like this idea about the "lowliness" of a "cardboard box".
All funeral homes carry a version of this. Many of them do not display or offer these for sale on the showroom floor, but a family may certainly request one. They’re by far the least expensive option, if that is a consideration. But the simple cardboard box has a few other noble and redeeming features.
A "cardboard cremation container" is the standard name for this . It is, in fact, what is used by a funeral home or crematorium, for what is referred to as 'direct cremation'. It’s generally a simple, sturdy cardboard container with a lid. It has handles pre-cut into it for ease in carrying and I’ve been told it can fit someone 6 foot or slightly taller and support up to 275lbs .
First, whether used for cremation or burial, it takes the least amount of time to 'dissipate'. I mean it either composts in the earth more rapidly than other casket materials, or burns quickly- using less fuel for cremation (and, I’m told, reducing wear on the 'retort' -or cremation chamber)
Second, it’s light in weight which makes it somewhat easier to carry.
Another of its virtues is that it can be decorated easily…and here is where it’s humble profile really shines! It has a kind of friendly, unassuming demeanor which puts would-be artists right at ease! It seems that it’s just not so intimidating to think of decorating cardboard as it might be to think of doing the same to a fancy wooden casket! People, once they get going, seem to dive right in!
I’ve seen elaborate paintings, collages, written messages…flowers, trees, animals, birds, abstract designs, handprints and even pawprints! Family or friends can each take a small or large area and do whatever they like. Some like to coordinate an overall design, and some create a mélange—colorful mixtures of heartfelt messages. Children get right into the act. It seems to really engage people in a way that is often satisfying and healing.
I’m kind of fascinated by this. I think of it as an emerging folk art trend. I’m glad it’s an option and I’m happy to tell you about it.
Now I’m not knocking caskets…in fact 'some of my best friends are casket makers…'. (I had to say that…) I am not suggesting that everyone go for the cardboard option. I just want folks to know it’s there. Remember, I am a proponent of choice…and in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m always interested in 'jiggling' some of our 'solid' opinions and ideas…just to make a little room for something new and unexpected to come in.And I just wanted to bring this simple humble player out into the spotlight for a bit of recognition.
This is the feature article from the E-Zine of a Fine Farewell . We post there twice a month, with additional information included in this blog, where you are free to leave comments. I invite you to subscribe here.
Newsletter and blog content copyright A Fine Farewell 2010