Funeral Home Laws
Buying Caskets Online
One Casket Size Does Not Necessarily Fit Everyone
Casket sizes are a concern that many customers have when shopping for a casket. Customers, after all, want to avoid frightening scenarios such as the one that once made headlines in Cincinnati: A family alleges that it ordered from a funeral home a large casket for a woman who weighed more than 500 pounds, and, after expressing some concern that the woman would not fit into even the larger caskets, was assured that the casket size was large enough. When family members arrived to the funeral, they say they were shocked to see the woman’s body squeezed uncomfortably into the casket. Further, one family member reports that, after the funeral, he saw several funeral home staff members struggle mightily to close the casket – one man going so far as to sit on top of it just before burial at the cemetery. That same family member also alleges that the staff members never did manage to close the lid entirely and that the woman was buried with the casket lid partially open.
The funeral home in the above case denies any wrong-doing, but the story still is a lesson: casket size is definitely an important consideration when planning a funeral. Here are a few important and interesting tidbits about casket sizes.
Casket are available in a huge variety of sizes (and shapes, for that matter, but that discussion is best left for another article), but most casket sizes fall within an inch or two of the following dimensions: 84 inches long, 28 inches wide, and 23 inches tall. When you consider that the average person’s body is about 60 inches long (6 feet), 18 inches wide and 6 inches high, the typical casket size should be certainly large enough to fit all but the largest of people. In recent years over sized caskets have become more and more popular, the weight of the people and the height of the people born is getting larger with years to come. The industry is starting to accommodate the size issue but has been behind for years.
The problem dimension with casket sizes today, of course, is width. The standard width of a casket has been about 28 inches since the late 19th century when caskets began replacing coffins (yes there is a difference, caskets are rectangular, coffins have an outward bulge in the width near the center of the body) as the burial container of choice. As at least one official with the American Heart Association has noted with disappointment and alarm, that American diets have contributed to larger average body widths over the decades and, interestingly, casket manufacturing leaders have now started increasing the standard width of casket sizes, to create 'oversized caskets', such as that to the left. Whether the larger standard size ever comes to fruition remains to be seen (health experts, of course, hope that the news that this is a possibility will inspire better habits of diet and exercise to make the matter a moot point), but over size caskets have always been available and will always continue to be. Most oversize caskets are 52 inches wide, more than enough to accommodate all but the largest of abdominal girth. But, apparently, if the Cincinnati family’s story is an indication, this is not large enough for everyone.
So, to avoid a disastrous funeral for your loved one, if you are in doubt about a casket size, it’s best to have your funeral director double check the fit.