For as long as people have held burials, they have been placing items into the grave to accompany the deceased on their final journey. Coins over the eyes to gain passage across the River Styx, the elaborate tombs of the kings and queens of Egypt, earthenware pots that showcase a simpler life—humans are no strangers to wanting to provide the deceased’s remains with the comforts they enjoyed in life.
Modern caskets make allowances for this by providing specialty panels and drawers for mementos, and also by offering relatives a chance to place items directly into the casket. Although anything (and everything) that isn’t hazardous can make its way into the burial vessel, most people opt for a few of these more common options.
- Favorite Book: From Bibles and literary greats to a well-worn paperback the deceased read twenty times during his or her lifetime, books are a common item to make it into a casket. Because they have relatively low value and are easily decomposed, they provide a nice touch without being harmful to the environment.
- Beloved Photo (with or without a frame): Wedding photos, baby photos, a particularly moving snapshot that captures the deceased and his or her lifetime—all of these work well for burial. It’s usually suggested that you bury a copy and keep the original, though, since family members may want this item later on.
- Play Program/Ticket Stubs: Whether the deceased performed in a particular show, or if they merely loved one, these paper mementos provide a nice touch without being costly. They can also be tucked into the deceased’s hands where flowers might traditionally go.
- Stuffed Animal: When death occurs to a child or infant, it’s common to place soft items like teddy bears, blankets, and other comforts in the casket. This also works well for adults if a stuffed animal was saved from childhood and held a special place in his or her heart.
- Booze/Cigarettes: Instead of saying a toast to the deceased, you can have him or her join you. Tucking a bottle of alcohol in a casket might not seem like a very dignified way of saying goodbye, but it’s actually one of the more common choices.
- Sports Mementos: Everything from a baseball to a hockey stick can be placed inside a casket. These kinds of items provide a nice touch for a sports enthusiast—especially if you’ve already opted to have the deceased dressed in a favorite jersey or his/her athletic gear.
- Cash and Other Valuables: It might seem unthinkable to bury the deceased with an item of value (since the only way you’ll get it back again is through the costly and difficult process of re-opening a grave), but many people do. Money, jewelry, family heirlooms, and other items of monetary worth can be placed with the deceased for interment.
- Cremated Remains: Although you’ll need special permits and may have to pay an extra burial fee, you can often place one person’s cremated remains in a casket with the deceased. This works well for spouses or other family members who wish to be buried together even though one of them is cremated.
- Electronic Devices: In our modern age, many people have attachments to their computers, phones, and tablet devices. Slipping these items into a casket is much like burying the deceased with a favorite book or stuffed animal.
- Funeral Flowers: Flowers are one of the most common items buried with the deceased. You can ask everyone in attendance at the funeral to place a rose inside the casket, order a specialty bouquet for burial, or even place blooms from the deceased’s own garden inside. All of these provide a fitting tribute and farewell.
Although you should always check with the funeral director before you place items inside the casket for burial, there’s usually quite a bit of leeway in this area. As long as the casket can be safely closed and secured—and there are no hazardous materials inside—you should be able to bury the deceased with almost anything.