Links between coffin prices, funeral services and the history of funerals.
Despite the painful emotions involved in choosing a coffin for a beloved family member, there is perhaps a small solace in how this is a hallowed and rather sacred path – Dublin mourners have been choosing coffins for centuries now.
From Funeral Shrouds to Coffins
All over Ireland, at the beginning of Christianity as we know it, coffins were not in use, and the earliest funeral graves were simply lined with fern and moss. The procession of funeral traditions then marched on to include Funeral Shrouds, or Wrapping Sheets. In Dublin, by the 1800’s, coffins were so widely used that Cook Street in Dublin 8 was known as Coffin Street because there were no less than 16 coffin-makers plying their trade on that one street. Cost wise, funerals used to be even more expensive than now – back then, a typical Dublin funeral could well cost the family the equivalent of 20 weeks wages.
Jennings Funeral Directors are deeply aware of funeral costs in these challenging times. Nigel Brothers, as Financial Controller, always alerts the families that they do indeed have control over certain funeral costs.
Funeral Options Today
‘It’s one thing how cemetery and cremation costs are set in stone, if you’ll pardon the pun. Funeral Directors have no control cost structures at the crematorium, or the grave prices, or cemetery fees – and those costs vary a little from cemetery to cemetery’.
But as Nigel explained, a family can make considerable savings if they are mindful about things like coffin selection. In the arena of coffin selection – our families are reassured by the fact that there is a broad scope of prices available and many coffin styles to choose from. People often base their choice combining preference and cost – the type of wood for example most suited to the personal taste of the person who has passed and the working budget for their meaningful funeral.
‘If a beloved relative is going to be cremated, families can opt for simplicity in terms of a simple wood coffin, but that sometimes doesn’t feel right for the family. One beloved father – his name was John – went to wood-carving classes when he retired. This marked a very fulfilling time in John’s life, and so his family chose The Last Supper Coffin because they knew their Dad would have appreciated the carving detail, even though the funeral mass would be followed by a cremation.
Coffin Design Options
Depending on family leanings, the design of a plain coffin can convey and carry a certain elegance in the very simplicity, reflecting the minimalism at the core of cremation itself. It’s a popular choice for cremation, and is linked, in part, to that age old question people like to ask the Undertaker – namely that yes, indeed, the coffin is burnt at the time of cremation.
‘Having said that’, said Nigel, ‘if the Ferns Coffin looks too stark an option, then the Elphin Coffin in Elm wood finish, with a raised lid and a slightly more ornate style is often popular.’ It’s astonishing to compare these two coffins – while nothing can truly diminish the pain of loss and grief when somebody passes away, a simple design feature like an elevated lid can take the stark look off a coffin and perhaps raise the spirit in a small but significant way. And in turning that picture on its head, the family who opt for the stark simple coffin because of cremation can be lifted ever so slightly by the relief that the difficult decision has been made.
Jennings Funeral Director Nigel also makes a gentle suggestion to families – to bear in mind that the coffin lid will have some form of ornamentation – for example a Christian funeral may have a gold-coloured cross along with the gold name plate. And a coffin may or may not be adorned with a floral tribute – often called a coffin spray. Many families find flowers an expression love and spirit – floral colour to break the solemnity while upholding the dignity as their beloved relative’s funeral coffin proceeds to the final resting place. Or a humanist funeral may simply have the name-plate – usually with the name of the deceased person, the date of their passing, and, if they wish, the words Rest In Peace.