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Orthodox Coffins  |  Daniel A. Kowalcheck  |  (336) 978-5385  |  dkowalcheck@orthodox-coffins.com


Coffins or caskets?
Traditionally, any container used for the burial of the deceased is a coffin; the term originating from the Greek κόφινος (kophinos, meaning basket), Latin cophinus, and later Old French cofin. In North America, the six (or more) sided funerary boxes, tapered at the ends have come to be known as ‘coffins’, whereas the four sided boxes are referred to as ‘caskets’. Actually, the term casket is more properly defined as container used to hold trinkets and jewelry. The use of the term casket as we know it today, developed as a euphemism by the 19th century undertaker’s trade. Hence Orthodox Coffins uses the more accurate term for our product.

Will a funeral home accept an outside casket? 
Absolutely. In 1994, the Federal Trade Commission enacted 16 CFR Part 453 (the Funeral Rule) stating that "the funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere." Thus, funeral homes are accustomed to such arrangements. However, proper notification is required, as is consideration of the various provisions the funeral home may need. For more information click on the Federal Trade Commission's webpage, Funerals: a Consumer Guide.

How is payment handled?
For orders to be shipped immediately (within a few days), we require payment in full. This will include the price of coffin, sales tax (if within North Carolina), and any additional delivery/shipping charges that may incur if the delivery needs to be expedited.

For pre-orders that are not needed immediately, we require $1000 down payment at the time the coffin is commissioned. The balance is due when the coffin is complete and ready to ship. We will calculate the total cost for you when you place your order, and give you an estimated time for completion as well.

For the payment itself, we accept traditional checks, or online payment. For check payment, we will email you the physical address. If you prefer the online option, we will send you an email (via Quickbooks) with simple instructions for online payment. Payment options are a free bank draft, or credit card (add a 3.5% convenience change).

Can I break up the payment over time?
Yes. We can break up the payments into regular monthly installments if it makes it financially easier for you. Contact us and we can work out a plan.

How can I store a coffin for future use?
Currently we do not offer a long-term storage option on site. Understanding that most people do not have room, or would even want to store their own coffin, the ideal situation is for the church to store a coffin for its community. If you or your parish stores a coffin for future use, we suggest keeping the coffin clean and out of extreme temperatures and humidity, as you would care for any fine wood furniture. Often, a funeral home will keep one if it is to be used relatively soon. In all cases you would need to coordinate that with them.

Are there different sizes?
Yes. We have produced coffins in many different sizes; from very small, to extra-large. Obviously this takes time to coordinate and construct, so it is best to call as soon as possible. It is unlikely that we will have a custom size coffin in stock or in production. In most cases, a funeral home usually can keep a body in refrigeration if some additional time is needed. If a funeral home is not being used, dry ice is recommended to keep the body cool. In all cases we will work with you in every way possible to supply you with what you need as quickly as possible.

Will the extra time needed to prepare a coffin be a problem?
Of course it is ideal that the body be laid to rest within a few days of repose. However, it is very common in our modern day for the Church to grant oikonomia to extend this period. This is especially true when trying to schedule out-of-town family and friends for there to be fuller and better-attended funeral services. Often, we can use this extension to “buy us some time” to prepare and deliver a coffin.

How is the lid attached?
The lid is totally separate from the coffin box. A traditional coffin lid is one piece (not split) and is sits atop the bottom. The lid wraps over the top edge with a 1.5” band, and simply fits on top like a shoe box. There are no hinges or latching mechanisms. The view of the attendees at the funeral services will be unobstructed by a vertically hinged open lid, and the body will be in full view to gaze upon, pray for, and venerate. 

What should we do with the lid during the funeral services?
During the memorial and funeral services that take place in the church, the lid (having the image of the cross upon it), should be prominently placed (stood aright) in the front or corner of the Nave. Often it is leaned up against the iconostas itself (though it should never block an icon). If the services are to be performed at the funeral home, it is suggested that the lid be leaned up against the wall directly behind the coffin, or to the side or corner of the room. In some old-world village customs, it is traditional to place the coffin lid at the entrance of the church, indicating that a funeral is taking place. 

There isn’t an official prayer for the blessing of a coffin or the coffin lid--at least not yet. However, when the lid is adorned with the cross, it is appropriate and recommended that lid/cross, be sanctified using the prescribed blessing for a newly-fashioned cross*. In this case, the lid is brought to the center of the church next to the coffin, and stood aright while the prayers are read aloud. The cross is then immediately sprinkled with Holy Water. The lid is then held there, until after the Prayer of Absolution is read, at which time two men (at the head and foot) place the lid atop the coffin. 

        *see 37. The Order for the Blessing and Sanctification of a Newly-Fashioned Cross, pg 267, Book of Needs Volume II, STM Press.

Our cemetery requires a burial vault. Will it fit in there?
Yes. Most public cemeteries will require a burial vault or grave liner. The reason for this is so the ground will not sink in when the coffin decomposes. This makes ground maintenance easier and also keeps the tombstones from falling forward. Occasionally, a private cemetery (or one at a church or monastery) will not require a vault and the coffin will be placed directly in to the earth.

A typical burial vault or grave liners interior dimensions are 30” wide x 86” long. The standard sized coffin easily fits in this size. In the rare case that we need to produce a significantly larger coffin, a slightly larger vault can be ordered.

I will be a pallbearer at the funeral. Is the coffin heavy?
In our experience, the coffins we produce are lighter and easier to carry than typical funeral come caskets. Additionally, the wooden handles are much easier to grip than standard brass handles found on most funeral home caskets (which tend to be much thinner), as well as rope handles (often found in other rustic wooden coffins). 

In the West, the most common way to carry the coffin is by six pallbearers carrying the handles at waist height. In many old-world traditions (and occasionally in America), the coffin is often carried on the shoulders.