For many years, funerals have fit into a very specific box. Memorial services were usually held in funeral homes or churches. Florists had certain classic funeral flower arrangements that people could choose from. On the same hand, caskets were typically understated and elegant in design. But as our culture has become more open and accepting about death, the funeral industry has evolved.
Now people might be more inclined to have a celebration of life instead of a funeral, and unconventional burial methods like green burials have caught on. So it’s not surprising that people have begun getting more creative when it comes to the types of caskets they choose. Below, we talk about some of the cooler and more unique caskets on the market.
1. Viking Ship Casket
The Viking Age took place over a thousand years ago during the Middle Ages, largely in what is present-day Scandinavia. To this day, stories persist about their burial rites. In Norse mythology, boats represented the safe passage of a soul into the afterlife.
When Vikings were buried, their grave mounds were often built intentionally to look like ships. Vikings that were especially well-respected or high-ranked would sometimes be buried inside of the ships they steered in life. Some specialty casket makers will craft caskets to look like a Viking ship so you can be buried in a manner befitting a respected leader.
2. Guitar-Shaped Casket
If you’re a music lover, a bespoke guitar-shaped coffin might be the right choice for you. A man named John Graham played the guitar for a little-known American rock group called The Ramrods.
But he received more fame after his death when he was buried in a custom casket that was a replica of his beloved Fender Stratocaster guitar.
3. Eco-Friendly Casket
If you’re intrigued by the green burial trend, you’ll soon find that a traditional coffin won’t cut it. Caskets are typically constructed out of materials like hardwood, metal, and manmade fabrics. They’ll stay relatively intact underground for thousands of years.
Caskets used in green burials are made out of unconventional materials that will fully biodegrade. Not only are hemp and wicker caskets (like this one) biodegradable and unique, but they’re also quite inexpensive. Finding an affordable casket that’s special and outside of the box is always a bonus.
4. Book-Shaped Coffin
If you’re a fan of literature, be sure to show off your highbrow taste by being buried in a book-shaped coffin.
A specialty casket maker can recreate the design of a favorite book. If religion is important to you, you can always be buried in a book casket that’s been designed to look like the Bible.
5. High-Tech Inspired Caskets
If you’re devoted to technology, you can pick out a casket that reflects that. Casket makers can create coffins that resemble game controllers or joysticks.
They can also make a casket look like a phone screen complete with apps. If you’re a devotee to Apple products, you can even get a casket with their iconic logo.
6. Custom Car Coffins
If you have a fondness for stylish cars, you can ride off into the sunset in a car-shaped casket. A few different specialty shops make car caskets in various colors and styles.
They even use fiberglass and chrome rims upon request. Imagine seeing what you think is a hearse at a funeral, only it ends up actually being the coffin! You’ll definitely give everyone something to talk about.
Join Cake's monthly newsletter.
Learn all you need to know about end-of-life.
7. Candy Bar Caskets
Do you have a sweet tooth that you are sure will never die? You can get a custom coffin that’s made to look like the wrapper of your favorite candy bar.
You can also get coffins that look like a giant box of chocolates. Forrest Gump was right - you never do know what you’re going to get.
8. Screw-Shaped Coffin
More and more people are turning to cremation instead of burial. One of the reasons for this is that burial space is at a premium. Some cities are facing a very real danger of running out of space to bury the dead. In some places, couples are choosing to share plots and have one coffin buried on top of another.
An inventor named Donald Scruggs came up with a unique way to save burial space. He designed a coffin that is shaped like a screw. It can be buried vertically by literally steering it into the ground. The headstone shape of the coffin also serves as the lid top. It’s certainly an innovative way to be buried.
9. Crime Scene Chalk Outline-Inspired Coffin
Have you got a morbid sense of humor? If the answer is yes, you might appreciate a novelty casket that is shaped like the chalk outline left at a crime scene.
Instead of a sleek rectangular shape, this casket is designed to look like a person with their legs and arms all akimbo. Nobody will expect you to still be indulging in gallows humor from beyond the grave.
10. Luxury Caskets That WILL Break the Bank
We’ve talked about some affordable unique caskets. Now we’re going to talk about some of the most over-the-top caskets. It should come as no surprise that celebrities and other wealthy people gravitate toward extravagant casket prices even in death. Popstar Michael Jackson was laid to rest back in 2009 in a custom casket made out of hand-polished gold and bronze. The price tag was a whopping $25,000. His close friend, actress Elizabeth Taylor was buried in an $11,000 casket.
Meanwhile, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor was gifted with an opulent $40,000 casket made out of pure 24K gold. It was bestowed upon her by a high-end funeral company after she was hospitalized in 2011. She lived for another five years after that before passing away. Ironically, she was cremated and not buried. Her ashes, however, were displayed in a golden box at her memorial service.
11. Air-Conditioned Coffins
You might think your feelings about climate control will die with you. But some people want to stay cool even after death with air-conditioned coffins.
These caskets are most popular in the country of Serbia, as they keep bodies cool and preserved before burial even during the summer months. Air-conditioned coffins aren’t just a quirky niche in Serbia, as they’ve also risen in popularity in the country of India.
12. Shark-Shaped Casket
We all have certain fears. As many as half of Americans have admitted that they have a fear of sharks.
Those people should probably avoid getting buried in a shark-shaped casket. It would be a shame to spend your whole life not getting eaten by sharks only to get buried inside of one.
13. Coffin for Audiophiles
If you’re a music lover, you may wish you had a playlist to accompany you into the afterlife. At least one casket company has heard you and equipped their coffins with a sound system.
You can preprogram a playlist, or people who visit your grave to mourn can play songs that remind them of you. Hopefully, your consciousness won’t actually be around to hear these songs. But if by some chance you do have some awareness, at least you’ll have a good soundtrack.
14. Any Casket Designed by Paa Joe
In the African country of Ghana, specialty carpenters are known for making fantasy or figurative coffins. The Ga people of Ghana believe that death is not the end of your life. Instead, you go on living in the next world.
They also believe that when people die, they continue to have a strong influence on their living family members. So surviving family members often commission specialty caskets to influence the dead to have sympathy for them. Funerals are a very big deal in Ghana and can last for as many as three days and nights. The fantasy coffins are kept under wraps and only unveiled on the day of the burial.
A man named Paa Joe remains the most well-known and influential coffin artist in Ghana, and perhaps in the entire world. Former President Jimmy Carter is reputed to have purchased two fantasy coffins designed by Paa John. His casket creations have been done in the following shapes:
- Nike sneakers
- Chili peppers
- Coca-cola bottles
- Ears of corn
The coffin shapes are usually dictated by the family of the deceased and are meant to represent some aspect of the deceased’s life. It could be a nod to their profession or to a particular interest they had. No matter what shape they take, Paa John’s caskets are undeniably works of art.
Alternatives to Unique Caskets
If none of the casket ideas above appeal to you, you might be interested in some of these equally unique options:
- Cremation diamond. Cremation diamond-makers like Eterneva take a small amount of cremation ash and transform it into a real diamond. This option might not include a casket, but it's certainly unique.
- Foreverence urns. Foreverence offers the urn version of a one-of-a-kind casket. Any design for an urn you have in mind, Foreverence can 3D print it in real life and send it to you or your family member.
- Cremation stones. Yet another unique option for storing remains is turning them into stones you can hold in your hand. With the full amount of ashes, Parting Stone makes 40 to 60 beautiful, natural-looking stones and ships them to your door.
- Green burial. We discussed biodegradable caskets above, but you can also have a green burial without any casket at all. You may choose a burial shroud, instead, if you can find a green burial ground that allows it.
Individuality is Important, Even After Death
Most people cultivate a strong sense of identity over their lifetime. They express themselves in everything from the clothes they wear to their home decor to the way they style their hair. Even after death, we want to leave a lasting impression.
We can do that by planning our own funerals ahead of time and choosing special touches that represent us. Features like unusual headstone shapes or custom caskets are a fun way to put an iconic spin on a funeral and go out in style.