These coffin decorating ideas are inspired by a chapter in The Intimacy of Death and Dying called “Creativity in Grief.” Learning how to decorate your coffin may seem odd at first, but when you think about it…it kinda makes sense!
“If you have a terminal illness, you might want to gather family and friends together to decorate your coffin,” writes Zenith Virago. “Decorating a coffin together allows people to open up to tender areas rarely shared, permitting profound insights and connections.”
One of the cool things about decorating your own coffin is that there are no rules. You can express yourself any way you want – and you can keep your coffin hidden until your funeral, memorial, or celebration of life. It’ll be your grand finale, your final salute to your friends and family! Or, you can enlist everyone’s help to decorate your coffin. It’s up to you – after all, it’s your funeral, isn’t it? If you’re not excited about decorating your coffin, think about these creative cremation urns.
Coffin Decorating Ideas
The first few ideas for decorating a coffin are DIY (do it yourself), and are grouped into themes. The last few ideas highlight coffin-making companies – though I don’t think you have to hire an expensive coffin maker in order to be creative! My favorite ideas are homemade and DIY, though I have to admit that these coffin making companies build gorgeous, unique coffins.
Family decorations with paint and other art supplies. I love the idea of decorating a coffin with your family. You could paint handprints, pictures, flowers, stars, oceans – anything you want on a plain white wood coffin. It’s like art therapy, in a way. Another decorating idea is to glue family photos of all sizes on the coffin, or make a collage of images that represent your clan.
“Wordy” coffin decorations, with favorite sayings. I love quips and quotes, and could picture myself buried in a coffin that has sayings such as “How might this be a plot twist that I won’t understand for another 200 pages?” by Gregg Levoy. The quips could be painted directly onto the coffin in different colors and styles, and pretty frames could decorate each quote.
Personal momento decorations. What are your most treasured possessions or moments in life – other than family photos or memories? I’m thinking of my dogs, romps in the forest, living in Africa, playing my flute, connecting with God in church, hugging my husband, spending time with my Little Sister. I have momentos from all these experiences, and that might be how I decorate my coffin.
“After someone has died it can be challenging to organize a more creative funeral,” writes Virago in The Intimacy of Death and Dying. “Legal and other requirements may seem to threaten the very tenuous hold you want to retain with your loved one. However, to bring an unadorned coffin, like a blank canvas, into a home to decorate, where family and friends can talk about the loved one while creatively expressing their love can bring laughter and light to all, including little children, as a unique moment is shared.” Decorating your coffin is a creative way to accept death.
Career coffin decorations. The coffin pictured is from Ghanacoffin.com, and it could be for a carpenter who is ready to put the final nail in the coffin. In Ghana, you are typically buried in a coffin that symbolizes your trade, such as a fish (fisherman), huge cornstalk (farmer), airplane (pilot), etc. How would a politician’s coffin be decorated, I wonder?
This coffin making company makes robot coffins, animal coffins, car coffins, airplane coffins, boat coffins, plant coffins, bottle and soda pop can coffins, and much much more. Read 35 Creative Coffins From Ghana for more coffin decorating ideas.
Functional coffins – from cupboard to coffin. You can decorate your coffin and use it in your home as a cupboard or bookshelf, and then turn it into a coffin when you’re ready to rest in peace. Hubert Prevoo created the “Cup-Cof” – which is a cupboard that turns into a coffin. “It’s a cupboard for the present and a coffin for the future,” says Prevoo. “Why let your family bear the expense of an expensive coffin and then bury or burn it? Use your future coffin as a cupboard and save money.” The cupboards are human-sized with three shelves, which can be removed to make it a coffin.
Custom-made artistic coffins. Creativecoffins.com has a beautiful website that showcases their coffins – which are amazing works of art. They make both wood and cardboard coffins that suitable for burial and cremation. However, they say that most crematoria now require cardboard coffins to have a wooden base affixed, so they recommend a wooden coffin if you choose to be cremated. For green burials, you need a cardboard coffin, which are different than traditional coffins.
Design your own coffin online. Here’s an interesting idea, which bridges the gap between hiring a custom coffin maker and decorating your own coffin: “At Colourful Coffins we believe in celebrating the unique life of every individual. Here, you can upload your own favourite photographs, scanned drawings, other images or artwork, to create a completely personal design for a loved one, or you can choose to pre-design your own picture coffin, which will be stored safely and securely for the future.” To learn more, go to Colourful Coffins.
Custom made coffins are beautiful, but let’s get back to decorating your own coffin. The idea is to connect with your family, express yourself, and create a coffin that represents you. The cool thing about DIY coffin decorations is that you have the freedom to do whatever you please with your box.
“We all have unique and valuable ways of expressing ourselves, so don’t be anxious about being creative,” writes Virago. “Simply create from your heart and it will bring love and healing, and encourage others to dare to do the same.”
If thinking about how to decorate your coffin isn’t your thing, read Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. It’s a weird look into what happens to our bodies after we die – a fascinating portrayal of the physical happenings when our hearts stop beating and we take our last breaths. Maybe you’ll find a few coffin decorating ideas in the book
What do you think about the idea of decorating your own coffin as part of planning your death and funeral? I welcome your thoughts below. When I was searching the internet for creative and artistic coffins, I didn’t get results from Canada or the United States. The United Kingdom seems to have cornered the market on decorating coffins.
If you’re aware of any creative coffin companies or ideas in North America, please share below. I’d love to check them out!