Coffins with a personal touch

The final word in self-expression, perhaps, is having the chance to decorate, or even make, your own coffin. It’s an option many Australians are starting to explore.

Readymade choices include space themes from an astronaut to a star-sprinkled galaxy or nature in the form of rosellas or the northern lights, for example, and these can be matched with a personalised urn.

One company, Expression Coffins, says it has more than 50,000,000 images available in their database to choose from. The coffins are all Australian made and created from sustainable and renewable Australian-grown, plantation pine fibreboard (MDF). You can also reproduce your own design by uploading your own images on their website to get exactly the look you want. Either way, the process involves high-resolution image wraps that are produced using latex, water-based inks. Called CrystalCleer, this technology was recognised as an industry leader in environmental certifications and awards, according to the company website.

Adding to the sustainability, the use of natural materials is offset by a Memorial Tree Program, so that “when you purchase one of our coffins, a donation is given to the Men of the Trees society, a non-profit, non-political group dedicated to the reforestation, maintenance and protection of trees in Australia,” along with a certificate explaining the program.

Sports lovers might like to know that the company reports it has a special arrangement with the National Rugby League for their coffin designs, and a proportion of each club Expression Coffin sold is given back to the NRL.

Another option includes flat-pack cardboard coffins such as the biodegradable Daisybox®, so called because each one comes with 50 ‘Goodbye Daisies’, die-cut paper flowers which allow attendees to write a farewell message to the departed at a funeral service which are fixed to the coffin. Weighing a lightweight 6kg but with a load bearing rating of 240kg, the sturdy corrugated fibreboard construction comes with cotton or hessian rope handles and can be fitted with a calico inner liner.

These come flat packed and can be taken home and decorated with paints, flowers and messages for example, or the decoration can be integrated into the funeral service.

Then there’s the DIY option. Inspired by a coffin club in Rotorua, New Zealand, where people gather together weekly to make and decorate their own coffins in a very sociable way accompanied by music, the sharing of meals and an attitude of “giving death the finger”, the idea is catching on in Australia. While the movement here began in Ulverstone, Tasmania, it is making its way to a place near you. There are a few rules and legalities to adhere to but otherwise the look it is up to you.