CONFESSIONS OF A FUNERAL DIRECTOR

Working at the Crossroads of Life and Death 

  • You've already seen those deeply upsetting images of Louisiana Flood caskets floating downstream. 
  • Isn’t it horrible? And that scenario is a nightmare! 
  • You probably have some questions: 
  • Why do they float? 
  • Can those bodies be easily identified? 
  • Shouldn’t the vaults keep them contained in the ground? 

To the first question. 
There are a few types of caskets. There are caskets of wood and of metal. There are sealing caskets (also known as gaseous or protective) and non-sealing caskets inside the metals. Sealing barrels have a rubber gasket which creates an airtight seal when the bar of the sliding lock is cranked with the casket key. You may have seen funeral directors use said key during a funeral in which the lid is locked. At the foot end of the casket, we put it into a small crank opening and turn it until the lock bar is absolutely secure.
Sealing caps are the only ones that float. Even if you'd think a wood barrel will float because wood barrels don't lock, they're more likely to fill up with water and remain put in their vault.

Can those caskets and the bodies contained in them be identified?
Most sealing caskets have what’s called a “memory tube.” If the memory tube is filled in from the funeral home, the identification process is much simpler. If the casket has no memory tube, then the process is even more complicated. And this might require a DNA testing.  

Shouldn’t the vaults keep them contained in the ground?
Most cemeteries need vaults. Vaults such as caskets may either be the type of sealing, or the form of non-sealing. If the ground is over-saturated with water, the sealing vaults can pop out of the ground, causing the vault to float away, and the casket it holds. Most often than not, it is just the casket that is floating free. The vaults are exposed above ground, in the case of the Louisiana Flooding. If the vault, as is the case in most cemeteries, was located underground, it is less likely that the caskets will pop out. Yet, because they're so much closer to the edges when the floodwaters start flowing, it's so much easier for them to walk down the hill. 

Even after you're dead you don't want to go boating and floating, there are a few things you can do to make sure your body never washes away:
  • Cremation
  • Green burial
  • Don’t use a sealing casket
  • Tie your vault to an anchor

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Interested in Pre-Planning Purchase of a Casket for Your Loved One?

Sacred Space Cremation and Burial Society has an amazing array of caskets for you to choose from, serving veterans, all service members and their families throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.  We maintain relationships with several churches and community centers that can be used for a traditional gathering, and our prices are reasonable, family-friendly and offer tremendous value.  Contact us today for more information on how we can provide an affordable casket for your loved ones. Call us anytime at (408) 863-2513.   


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