Today’s funeral caskets have the option to come equipped with specialty drawers that allow you to incorporate a uniquely personal touch. Located on the lid or side panels, these memorial drawers are similar to ones you might find in a jewelry chest—small, elegant, and perfect for holding mementos that signify a lifetime of happiness.
The practice of placing memorial keepsakes with a body being prepared for burial is nothing new. In fact, it’s one of the oldest funeral traditions, as evident by the great tombs of Egypt and the remains of early humans found buried with their weapons, ceremonial jewelry, and cooking items. Although many civilizations did this because they believed the items would accompany the deceased through the underworld (or because they needed to be able to “pay” for the journey), others did it simply because it helps the healing process. There is something truly moving about knowing those we love will be near the things that mattered to them for all of eternity.
Items to Place in the Casket
While you are funeral planning, you don’t have to choose a casket with a memorial drawer—and if there is one included, you are under no obligation to use it. They are discreet enough that only a trained eye will be able to detect there is one at all.
If you do choose to bury the deceased with some personal items, it’s important to remember that these are items you will not get back. Heirlooms, medals of achievement, original photographs, and other items that belong to the entire family may not be a wise choice, since their value to you might not be the same as they are to someone else. Before any item like this is placed in the casket, you should talk to other family members to ensure that no feelings or hurt—or even that you’re going against the will or direct wishes of the deceased.
Common items placed in the drawers include:
- Wedding rings
- Copies of photographs
- Favorite books
- Anything associated with a hobby or sport
- Military or fraternal organization mementos
- Letters to the deceased
Other options might include a packet of flower seeds for a gardener, a driving glove for an avid car lover, or some tees and a golf ball for a golfer.
These items can be artfully arranged in the drawer for exhibit during the funeral service, adding a special touch to the memorial. If the items you wish to include are of a personal nature, they can be put in the drawer (or directly in the casket) and closed off to viewers. You might also choose to display items in the drawer but have them removed before the casket is actually lowered into the ground or placed in a crematorium.
Any ritual that helps you personalize funeral planning and move through the grieving process is worthwhile. Memorial drawers offer a great way to add a touching tribute to a burial, and to do it in a way that honors the deceased and all that he or she had to offer during an entire lifetime. For more information on choosing a casket that includes a memory drawer, talk with your funeral director or pre-planning organization.