Coffins, Caskets & Urns

Although the terms “coffin” and “casket” are often used interchangeably, the two are distinctly different. When deciding on an appropriate farewell for a loved one who has passed, being aware of the differences can help make the process run more smoothly, and help honour the wishes of the person who has died more easily.


In most countries, the term “coffin” is used rather loosely to refer to any type of burial container. Traditionally however, coffins have a distinct design that’s different from caskets. Coffins are usually narrower in shape, with a hexagonal design that’s made up of six to eight sides, with a shape that tapers down towards the feet, broadly matching the silhouette of the body. Historically, coffins were designed with a fully removable lid, but today most designs feature hinged lids that allow for viewing of the deceased, either during or before the funeral service itself. Generally speaking, coffins are more affordable than caskets, but designs and materials used can vary wildly. Most coffins are made from wood, while a rise in environmentally-friendly funeral services has seen an increased popularity in biodegradable and sustainably-sourced materials. Coffins are often the preferred choice for cremations.


In the United States and Canada, the word “casket” is generally applied to all types of burial container, but strictly speaking, a casket refers to a four-sided, rectangular vessel, often with a split-lid that allows for viewing of the body during or before funeral services. Caskets are often considered a more luxurious and elegant option than traditional coffins and can boast a higher level of craftsmanship. Many caskets are made from more premium materials, including hardwoods and metal, meaning they’re a preferred option for burial and tend to offer increased durability against decay and the elements long after burial. Because caskets tend to use more metallic components, they’re not advised for cremation services, although purely wooden designs are available for just this purpose.

Urns and Other Options

After a cremation, family members have a variety of options on how to manage the remains of their loved ones. Many opt to scatter the ashes of their loved one, while others may choose to keep the ashes housed within a decorative urn that can be kept and displayed at home permanently. Others may wish to have an urn housing the remains of their loved ones buried along with a grave marker, offering family members a place to visit and pay their respects. Cremation and urns can be a more affordable option when it comes to planning funeral services, putting less financial stress on those left behind, as well as providing a more flexible alternative to conventional burial. For those who’ve expressed their wishes that their ashes be scattered far from home, urns can provide a much more viable means of transportation across long distances, while multiple family members may choose to keep a portion of the ashes of a loved one in keepsake urns.

Making the Right Choice

When it comes to dealing with the loss of a loved one, deciding on an appropriate farewell can be a daunting prospect. At Franklin & Hawkins Family Funeral Directors, you’ll find a compassionate team of professionals on hand when you need them, helping you make those difficult decisions during distressing times. Deciding on the details of any funeral is an entirely personal affair, which is why our team will never steer your decisions for you, only guide and advise you in your time of need.