John and Maureen Banks inspect one of the caskets on
display at Dignity Funeral Services' casket open day on
Saturday, where Dunedin residents were offered free
measuring and quotes. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Some people tend to get a bit twitchy when it comes to
choosing their own funeral casket, especially when they are
It is a sensitive subject and, for many, there is no room for
dark humour on the topic.
But it did not seem to bother Dunedin couple John (78) and
Maureen (73) Banks when they took advantage of Dignity
Funeral Services' offer of a free measuring and quote at its
casket open day on Saturday.
''We're heading in that direction,'' Mr Banks said as he
pointed to the floor, ''and it's something that we've got to
Mrs Banks agreed.
''There's no point being sensitive about it. It's got to be
The couple were inspired to view caskets after seeing a
television programme recently about a man who made his own
coffin and propped it up against his lounge room wall.
He put shelves in it and he stored his liquor in it, but he
planned for the shelves to be removed after he died and then
to be buried in it, Mr Banks explained.
Mrs Banks said she initially considered the idea of having a
casket shaped like a cigarette, ironically so she could have
one last smoke as she was being cremated.
''I quite like that idea.''
But by the end of their visit, both had decided on a more
sensible casket with images of themselves doing the things
''In photos, you can show a person's character, their
personality, who they were in life.
''We want to go out in style and we want a more customised
send-off with close friends and family.''
The couple were among dozens of people who attended the open
day, which gave Dunedin residents a chance to choose how they
wanted to be sent off, rather than leaving the task to their
Funeral director and manager Gary Wybrow said these days, it
was all about personalising send-offs, and if enough time was
given, almost anything could be arranged.
''Long gone are the days where you had a standard casket and
a 20-minute service.''
He said there was a wide range of caskets on offer, from
decorated ecofriendly cardboard, plywood and wicker, to more
And if time allowed, Mr Wybrow said coffins could even be
made in shapes to create themes, such as a V8 engine, so its
occupant could race off to the afterlife.