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WATCH: Purchasing Burial Caskets

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Choosing a burial casket is an important step for many families when it comes to funeral planning.

We recently sat down with Bruce Humphrey, President and CEO of Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles-Newbigging Chapel Ltd. in Toronto to discuss issues that families should consider before purchasing burial caskets.

Why Would Families Choose Burial Over Cremation?

Many families still choose traditional burial because of cultural reasons or a family tradition of being buried in a particular cemetery.  “Most of the people in Toronto started with burial and that is why many still choose traditional burial,” says Humphrey.

You can also be cremated and have the cremated remains buried in the family plot.

What Factors Should People Consider When Purchasing a Burial Casket?

There are essentially two different kinds of burial caskets: protective and non-protective. Protective burial caskets are made of metal and have an airtight and watertight seal.  Non-protective burial caskets do not completely seal, but are available in different materials: metal, solid wood, and cloth-covered wood.

The price of the burial casket is determined by the quality of the workmanship and the materials that were used.  For example, a 3-inch solid mahogany burial casket will be more expensive than a casket made from wood veneer.

What is the Most Commonly Selected Type of Burial Casket?

In Humphrey’s professional experience, the most commonly selected burial casket is made of dark wood with a neutrally coloured interior.  This is particularly true when the family is having a visitation and an open-casket funeral.

What About Burial Casket Liners and Vaults?

Humphrey states:  “For burials, some cemeteries have by-laws that require some sort of outer container.  Most cemeteries do not have that by-law. 

“However, if people are concerned about the protection of the casket and the remains, then we strongly recommend purchasing an outer container. Some individuals really want a watertight protection for a wooden casket, and therefore they need to upgrade to a watertight container.”

What is the Price Range for Burial Caskets and What Factors Impact the Price?

The price of burial caskets ranges from $700 to $30,000, depending on the quality of the materials used and the level of craftsmanship. 

   There are so many different types of caskets, from a basic wooden box to soft wood, solid wood, bronze and copper caskets.

Where the burial casket was manufactured also affects the price that Canadians will pay.  The most expensive burial caskets are made in the United States. 

Because of the size of its population, our neighbour to the South has the capacity to produce solid bronze burial caskets and solid wood caskets.  When Canadians purchase American made burial caskets, they have to pay duties.

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What is the Price Range for Burial Casket Liners?

“An outer container is normally somewhere between $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the type and quality,” says Humphrey.

Why do Some Families Choose to Have an Open Casket Funeral?

In the experience of the funeral directors at Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles-Newbigging Chapel Ltd., many families will choose to keep the burial casket open.  (However, if the deceased was ill before their death and no longer look like himself or herself, the family may choose to close the burial casket.)

Humphrey explains why it is helpful for families to have an open burial casket: “We go through several stages of grief, one of those stages being acceptance. This doesn’t just refer to subconscious acceptance and visual acceptance, but also unconscious acceptance. Your brain actually has to see to believe it is true.”