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A casket or alternative container is used for burial of the body. An urn holds the cremains (ashes) following cremation.

Purpose of the Casket

The casket is used to protect and transport the body after death. It is present at a funeral, and may be either open or closed during the service. The casket is then used to transport the body to its final location in a cemetery plot or mausoleum crypt. The casket is not present at a memorial service.

Standard Caskets

Caskets are usually made of wood, metal or fiberglass. There’s a very large range in the design and price of caskets. The average price is about $2,000, however you can spend up to $10,000 or more. Less expensive caskets fall in the $500 to $1,000 range.

Alternative Containers

Some people choose to forgo a decorative casket for an alternative container made of pressboard, cardboard or canvas. These are substantial enough to transport the body to a cemetery and for burial. They may also be used for cremation. Another option is to build your own simple wooden box to use as a casket.

Casket Rental

Some funeral homes will let you rent a casket for viewing or visitation and the funeral. The outside shell of a rental casket is made of metal or wood. Inside the rental casket is an alternative container which is removed and buried or cremated with the body.

Saving Money

You may be able to save money by shopping around for a casket. As a start, check the price of comparable caskets at more than one funeral home. Another option is to search online for companies that sell caskets at a discount. Many include free ground shipping to your funeral home. If you need it quickly, you can request next-day delivery at an additional cost.


After cremation, the cremains are usually returned to the family in a plastic bag placed inside a simple plastic container. If you wish, the cremains can be kept in a wide range of attractive urns, wooden boxes or other containers.


Urns are usually made of metal, ceramic, wood or glass. You can purchase decorative urns from a funeral home or an online vendor. Or if you find another container you like, you could use it to hold some or all of the cremains. You can also make your own container out of clay, wood or metal. If you choose to scatter the cremains, you may not need an urn at all.

Related Issues
Burial or cremation
Final location of the body
Funeral home services
Markers and the epitaph
Organ, tissue, and whole body donation

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