The word casket, which dates back to 1461, originally was used to describe any small box used for storing jewels or precious things1. Obviously, that meaning has evolved, yet one might argue that today's caskets continue to hold that meaning, but now as the container used to honor our most precious, our deceased loved ones during funeral and burial services.
Most families take great consideration when purchasing caskets for their loved ones, selecting a product that symbolizes the life and memories of their departed family member. In fact, for many, it's among the most memorable purchases they will ever make. And while a number of alternative avenues have recently emerged for purchasing caskets, most families continue to purchase caskets more traditionally, from family-owned funeral homes.
Caskets are made from a variety of materials, come in a wide array of colors, and have many decorative options. They are made from hardwoods such as cherry, maple, oak, and mahogany. Others are made of stainless steel, fiberglass and even more precious metals such as copper or bronze. Prices can run from $500 to nearly $10,000, though the average price is between $1,000 and $3,000.The overwhelming majority of caskets are purchased through family-owned funeral homes as part of the funeral planning process. Loyalty and trust are significant factors. Families know and trust the people who operate the funeral home. Most funeral directors are long-time members of the community and families have gone to them for generations.
"Families identify with our longevity and continuity," says Cincinnati's Lynwood Battle of J.C. Battle & Sons funeral home. "For most families in our community, it is unthinkable for them to go to a new discount chain and bargain hunt for a casket - a no-no, if you will. They would happily haggle on prices when shopping for things such as cars, computers, clothes, but not on a casket for a loved one, which they treat with the utmost respect and dignity," Battle said.
"If they buy online or the chain stores, is there a warranty?" asks John Croxton of T. P. White & Sons Funeral Home. "Then there's a storage fee if the casket is bought pre-need. Will it come on time? Will it fit the grave?" Croxton added.
Perhaps the most important distinction between casket retailers and family-owned funeral homes is the service that surrounds the sale of any funeral products. "We sell more than caskets. We provide service," said a representative at Renfro and Piper Funeral Home. "Casket stores aren't in the business of giving service. So when people buy a casket at family-owned funeral parlors, they get more than a casket. They get that family-friendly assistance and advice on the necessary details of the funeral process from the funeral director. And we're able to provide caskets and other funeral products that are appropriate to virtually any circumstance, financial situation or family desire."
Offers Dan Lakamp of Charles A. Miller Sons Funeral Home, "The family expects to see your face when they walk in the door. They want us to reassure them everything's okay."
And it is this familiarity that continues to make the family-owned funeral director the overwhelming provider of choice for the funeral products and services that help families memorialize their loved ones. To find a family-owned funeral home in your area, use the Funeralplan.com Funeral Home Locator Guide.
1 Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology.