Rental Caskets a Growing TrendThe recent recession has had a lasting impact on many businesses, and the funeral industry is no exception. Traditional funerals may cost thousands of dollars. The casket may often be the greatest single expense, with hardwood and metal models ranging in price from $2,000 to $10,000 and higher. Although many people may still feel strongly about providing their loved one with a high-end casket at their funeral service, the cost may be prohibitive. Rental caskets have risen in popularity as a means to honor a loved one without incurring excessive expense.

Suitable for Viewing

A rental casket maintains the look of a traditional model. Fine craftsmanship may be evident in the woodwork, metalwork and finishes. The difference is, a rental casket is specially made to accommodate a removable liner casket. This liner is usually constructed from plywood or sturdy cardboard. Linens are arranged so that the liner is not discernible within the casket. The body of the loved one never actually touches the outer casket. When the viewing is over, one of the sides of the larger casket drops down to allow the liner to be easily removed. The loved one is then buried or cremated in the liner.

Striking a Balance

Due to a number of factors, more and more people in the last decade have chosen cremation for their or their loved one's funeral services. While this may be a far more economical choice than traditional interment, there are still people who prefer the closure of a funeral service with a viewing. Rental caskets may be a useful way to bridge the gap. The costs associated with renting a casket run between $500 and $1,000, with the liner coming in at around $150. This arrangement gives families who want it the opportunity to say goodbye in the manner of a conventional funeral without the financial burden of an expensive single-use casket.

Environmentally Sound

Another notable reason to consider renting a casket is that the practice saves resources by keeping multiple hardwood and metal coffins out of the ground. Rentals may be considered a friendly practice within the green funeral trend. Proponents of greener funerals support options that use minimal materials and chemicals. Expensive and ornate caskets may be made from hardwoods with chemical varnishes, or from a quantity of metal. Liners offer the following benefits:

  • Plywood and cardboard liners may be much quicker to decompose.
  • They leave less harmful residue in the earth.
  • With care, even the liner may be discarded for wrappings that are even gentler on the planet.

More Widely Available

In the past several years, many funeral directors have recognized the need for services that provide some financial flexibility for families. For this reason, funeral homes may stock specially constructed rental models that closely resemble their elaborate counterparts, but with the features that make using a liner feasible. While the casket may eventually suffer enough wear and tear to be retired, it may serve its purpose for many years. Rentals may be an especially important option for lower income communities in which resources are few but the desire for services is high. Not all funeral directors may be in favor of rentals, as the bulk of their income may come from the sale of caskets. There are many directors, however, who see rentals as a means of helping to keep their businesses competitive in a changing economic climate.

Shifting Attitudes

The use of rental caskets may be a sign of how people have adapted and continue to adapt to changes in the economy. They are a way to hold onto what for many is a culturally and socially important ritual: The laying out and viewing of a loved one in an honored space. A general willingness to share that space may reflect a real cultural shift in American funeral practices.

Category: Funeral

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