Before you go, be sure they know

About 10 years before his death, Steven, a Saskatchewan farmer, began work on the casket he wanted to be buried in.

“Those damned undertakers charge too much,” he muttered. “Just put me in this box and I’ll be fine.”

It was made of mahogany plywood, a simple design wider at the head and shoulders end, tapering to a narrower foot. Those who saw it said it reminded them of the coffins seen in western movies.

While he discussed it with anyone who happened to drop by his farm shop that winter, no one can say for sure if Steven’s wife knew of his plans. He finished the casket and hoisted it up onto some sheets of drywall lying on the rafters of the shop and there it stayed.

It’s still there. Steven died suddenly just a few weeks after his 80th birthday. His widow wrote a cheque for the most expensive casket in the funeral home’s showroom and never batted an eye.

“He was the best and he deserved the best,” she told anyone who looked like they might question her judgment.

A few years later, preparing for her own death, she told her daughter not to do as she had done. “I wasn’t thinking clearly,” she said. “I wanted to honour him but he would have considered that such a waste of money. Don’t buy me the most expensive casket.”

Her daughter said she wouldn’t.

“But don’t buy me the cheapest either,” her mother added, with a smile.

People who are grieving do not think clearly. When asked to do anything out of the ordinary, be it bury their loved one in a homemade casket, bury them in jeans or bury them on the farm, they might balk. Tell them what you want and make sure they understand, long before it is necessary.

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