When a loved one passes, it’s common to place items of special significance or meaning in their coffin. Whilst there are very few limitations placed on the items selected for a traditional burial, a number of rules apply if your loved one is to be cremated. This guide will help you decipher which items are suitable so you can plan for when the time comes to say goodbye to your special someone.
Whether you've opted for a simple, cardboard coffin or a more traditional funeral casket, the same rules apply. Anything which runs the risk of reacting to heat in a way that’s dangerous, unpredictable, or harmful to the environment cannot remain inside the coffin. You may place these items of significance inside the coffin for the funeral service, but they will need to be removed prior to the cremation and given back to you.
Why add mementos to a coffin?
It's common amongst many ancient cultures to bury or cremate a loved one with some personal items, so that they can have them in their afterlife. Sending a loved one off with some special items can also help with grief. There's something quite emotional and cathartic about placing a person's beloved items in their casket. For some, it's a final act of love and care.
When considering what you might like to place in your loved one's coffin, it can be helpful to think about their passions and hobbies, anything that was particularly meaningful to them or even any special memories you shared.
What can’t be placed inside a coffin for cremation?
When thinking about what you'd like to include in a loved one's coffin for creamtion, it's best to take a common sense approach.
Anything combustible cannot be placed inside a coffin that is to be cremated. This includes bottles of alcohol or lighters.
Items containing batteries, like mobile phones, certain toys as well as e-cigarettes are also unsuitable. For this reason, pacemakers must also be respectfully removed prior to the cremation process. When exposed to high temperatures, batteries can explode and cause damage to the cremator.
Items which might contain trapped air are not suitable either. This could be things like jars or bottles made from plastic or glass.
Any accessory, shoes or items of clothing made from treated leather, latex, or vinyl must also be removed from the coffin prior to cremation. These materials can release harmful emissions into the atmosphere during the cremation process. Despite this rule, you may still dress your loved one in their favourite pieces of clothing, regardless of the material.
Typically, any item suspected to pose a risk will be removed at the mortuary after the funeral service and either returned to you or donated to charity.
So what can be placed inside a coffin for cremation?
Now, let’s focus on all the things which may remain in a coffin during the cremation.
Jewellery is acceptable, but given it will be exposed to extremely high heat during the cremation, it cannot be recovered afterwards. If you want to hold on to items of sentimental value, be sure to let your funeral director know, so they can be removed before the cremation and returned to you.
Photos of your loved one’s family and friends and letters such as love letters or farewell notes may all remain in the coffin during the cremation.
Additionally, flowers such as dried flower arrangements from a wedding or debutante, toys, blankets and religious items including wooden prayer beads, scriptures or articles of faith may also remain in the coffin.
You can even include the cremation ashes of someone who was very close to your loved one, like a spouse or parent. You can then decide what to do with the combined ashes at a later date.
Other suitable items to place in a coffin can include books, food and in some instances even musical instruments.
Including special items in a loved one’s coffin can be a cathartic and meaningful experience for those left behind. But, it’s important you take the time to speak with your funeral director to make sure there’s enough space in the coffin and that your choices are permissible. Rest assured, coffins and caskets are double-checked before cremation so the risk of causing any real harm is very slim.
If you need to organise an affordable and eco-friendly cremation for your loved one, Willed can help. Find out more at Willed Cremations.