Caskets - Should people pick out their own?

By: Dan Ciha
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I knew a woman who committed suicide. She was in her 30’s and her surviving spouse said the one thing that was the most difficult was having to pick out the casket.
Should people pick out their own casket?

Yes and no.

I’ve been in this a long time. Thirty years ago you did not have a lot of
people come to the funeral home or calling you to say “Dan I want to make
funeral pre-arrangements. I want to get all my things figured out before
death.”

Today, and this is in the funeral home industry, it’s pushed, and I don’t
necessarily agree with how they’ve pushed it. It’s become a business and I
hate that side of it. If someone wants to walk in the door and say, “Dan,
we’d like to write some things down. We want to get some ideas.” It might be
because someone is dying in the family, but it might be because you know
what, we don’t want our kids to worry about these things we want to make
these decisions. That’s a good thing but when somebody comes and calls you
and says “Don’t you think you should make some pre-arrangements?” I don’t
think that is right. I think when you are ready you should come in.

In terms of a tragic sudden death there is a lot of things going on at that
time, and to me, our job and our goal is to be open to making things good
for the family. Good for that situation because even in the most tragic
situation the funeral service can be one of the most beneficial and the
greatest things for that family.

I always tell people what I love about my work is that I get to see the
goodness in people every day. We live in a world that is pretty troubled
right now. I get to see people everyday come to the funeral home and support
that family who has just experienced a death. Very few professions in the
world get to experience that.

Going back to your friend. The thing I always tell families, “There are some
necessary things that need to be done at the time of death – some legal
issues, caring for the deceased, the casket and the burial vault, urns,
cemetery, etc.”, but I remind them that they should only do what they are
comfortable in doing, and that no matter what, the services, the care, and
the support they receive from family and friends are not based on a casket,
burial vault, or urn!

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