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How to Deal with the Funeral Home when Buying a Casket

Funeral Caskets have an interesting set of traditions and history. Most important of these may be that though the two terms are often used interchangeably -- "funeral caskets" can be, in fact, distinct from a standard casket. In its strictest sense, the term funeral caskets refers to caskets that are intended to be displayed at a funeral, but not ultimately buried. Funeral caskets are common today when a person is to be cremated but the family wants to conduct a traditional funeral service in which the body is displayed in a casket before the cremation. These types of funeral caskets differ from standard caskets only in that they are often made up of lighter weight materials that will not be asked to stand up to the Earth’s elements underground. These funeral caskets typically look no less luxurious than other caskets and are usually adorned with cushioning and, sometimes elaborate, external fittings. These types of funeral caskets are also sometimes called cremation caskets.

The other interesting fact about funeral caskets involves the word casket itself. In some cases it is important to establish that one is discussing a funeral casket because casket is traditionally also a term for a jewelry box. The word casket became associated with funerals and hence the term funeral casket was introduced in the early 1900's when North American undertakers took on the term casket as a Funeral caskets are one of the unspoken traditions of our modern societyeuphemism for the word coffin. Funeral caskets, the undertakers said, with their association to precious jewelry, are appealing places to send a loved-ones to eternal rest. This distinction between funeral caskets and coffins is mostly a North American one. The euphemism never caught on in most of the rest of the world where funeral caskets are simply still known as coffins. Some Americans in recent years have begun to draw an even further distinction between coffins and funeral caskets for these people, a coffin is a tapered hexagonal or octagonal box used for a burial. A rectangular burial box, meanwhile, is called a casket.

Though many caskets are intended for people who are to be cremated, they may, of course, be buried in the ground directly or in a burial vault. Today's casket manufacturers offer features that they claim will protect the body from quick decomposition underground. For example, some offer funeral caskets that use a gasket to seal the container shut after the funeral casket is closed for the final time. Many manufacturers offer a warranty on the structural integrity of the funeral casket.

That said, no funeral casket will preserve a body indefinitely, regardless of its material and regardless of whether the deceased has been embalmed beforehand. In some cases, a sealed funeral casket may actually speed up rather than slow down the process of decomposition. An airtight funeral casket, for example, fosters decomposition by anaerobic bacteria, which results in a putrefied liquefaction of the body, and all putrefied tissue remains inside the container, only to be exposed in the event of an exhumation. A container that allows air molecules to pass in and out, such as a simple wooden box, allows for aerobic decomposition that results in much less noxious odor and clean skeletonization.

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