What Can and Can’t You Put Inside a Casket?

The tradition of placing personal items in the caskets of loved ones is a meaningful way to commemorate their lives, share final tokens of love, and cope with grief.

This practice, which spans cultures and history, requires careful consideration of the type of burial selected to ensure the appropriateness of the items included.

The Tradition of Placing Items in Caskets

The practice of placing items in caskets has roots that reach deep into human history, serving as a bridge between the living and the departed across various cultures and epochs.

This tradition can be traced back to ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, who buried their dead with items meant to assist or comfort them in the afterlife, including everyday objects, valuables, and symbols of power and protection.

Similar customs were observed in other ancient cultures, including the Vikings, who equipped their dead with their weapons and ships, and the Chinese, who included terracotta soldiers and horses in tombs to protect and serve the deceased in the afterlife.

The reasons behind these practices are manifold, encompassing beliefs in an afterlife where these items might be needed, to serving as a way to honor and remember the individual’s life and accomplishments.

Over time, the tradition has evolved, with modern practices reflecting a more personal approach that focuses on the unique identity and preferences of the deceased, as well as serving as a coping mechanism for those grieving.

What You Can Put in a Casket

  • Traditional Burial: Offers flexibility, allowing for a wide range of personal items such as books, photos, and jewelry that reflect the deceased’s personality and passions. Caskets can be customized with compartments and designs, though choosing biodegradable materials is encouraged to reduce environmental impact.

  • Cremation: High heat necessitates caution in item selection. Items like wooden rosary beads, flowers, and soft toys are safe, while electronics, alcohol, and certain fabrics should be avoided due to explosion risks and harmful emissions. Sentimental items, particularly jewelry, should be removed beforehand for preservation.

  • Green Burial: Requires all items, including clothing and coffin fittings, to be biodegradable. Synthetic materials are not permitted, emphasizing an environmentally friendly approach that aligns with the ethos of returning to the earth without causing harm.

  • Burial at Sea: Similar to green burial, all items must be biodegradable, avoiding synthetic materials to prevent environmental pollution. The practice respects the sea’s natural state, ensuring that only materials that can naturally decompose are introduced.

What You Can’t Put in a Casket

  • Cremation: Combustible items, batteries, and certain types of clothing are prohibited to prevent risks during the cremation process.

  • Green Burial: Prohibits the use of synthetic materials and non-biodegradable coffin fittings to maintain environmental integrity.

  • Burial at Sea: Follows similar restrictions to green burial, disallowing plastics and non-biodegradable materials to ensure the marine environment is not adversely affected.

Items Commonly Put in Caskets by Loved Ones

When it comes to personalizing a final resting place, families and friends often choose items that reflect the deceased’s character, interests, and relationships.

These items are not only meant to accompany the departed on their journey beyond but also to offer comfort to those left behind, creating a personal and meaningful tribute.

Commonly chosen items include:

  • Books and Writings: Favorite novels, religious texts, personal diaries, or memoirs, symbolizing the deceased’s interests, beliefs, or creative expressions.

  • Photographs: Capturing moments of joy, achievements, and significant life events, photographs are a visual testament to the deceased’s life and relationships.

  • Toys and Comfort Items: In the heartrending instances of a child’s death, cherished toys, blankets, or favorite pieces of clothing are placed with them, offering a semblance of comfort and presence.

  • Valuables and Heirlooms: Jewelry, watches, and other valuable items, often passed down through generations, signify family bonds and continuity.

  • Cremated Remains: Including the ashes of previously departed loved ones, such as spouses or siblings, symbolizes unity and togetherness in the afterlife.

  • Floral Tributes: Flowers, both from funeral arrangements and the deceased’s own garden, represent the beauty of life and the natural cycle of birth and death.

  • Awards and Achievements: Diplomas, medals, and trophies, celebrating the deceased’s accomplishments and passions.

  • Personal and Hobby Items: Items related to hobbies, crafts, or sports, reflecting the deceased’s passions and leisure pursuits.

  • Military Decorations: Medals, uniforms, and flags honor the service and sacrifice of veterans, acknowledging their dedication and patriotism.


Selecting items for a casket is a deeply personal decision that enables families and friends to express their love and memories in a unique manner.

It’s important to consult with funeral directors to ensure these items comply with legal and environmental guidelines while respecting the deceased’s wishes.

The items chosen for this final journey serve as a poignant reflection of the life lived and the impact left on those who remain.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To top