April 3, 2020

Guess What Grandpa Bought From Wal-Mart?

walmart_casketsUPDATE: Support the monks of St. Meinrad, who make a great wooden casket/urn at a reasonable price. Will look much better under the tree 🙂

Stand by America, Wal-Mart is selling caskets. And urns. I’m not joking.

Any of you with a small funeral home in your community might want to consider two things: Just how far in advance you want to buy that pre-planned service and what is the meaning of the phrase “Some unanticipated future charges may be necessary.”

What Wal-Mart has done for Main Street USA in small town America it is now going to do for the funeral industry in those same towns: deliver what the public wants. irresistably heap. (If you know anything about casket prices, these are quite inexpensive.)

If you buy stock, I’d take a look at whoever made this deal. It’s a brilliant piece of 21st century capitalism. America is SO ready for the Wal-Mart casket.

If it bothers you to spend eternity in a box made by children in China, you might want to see if you can special order.

Reading the small print, there’s no return on this stuff, so if grandma calls and doesn’t like it, too bad. Wal-Mart won’t be doing refunds. Even if you wash it out really well. So I don’t think there will be any great deals on “refurbished” caskets.

I can only imagine what the job of the guy who has to enforce that “No Returns” policy is going to be like. He’ll have enough stories for a book in a few weeks.

Large caskets for large people are available. Catholic caskets? Yes. Just take a look.

Is there any reason we can’t hope for customization? Nascar? Disney? Favorite sports teams? Colleges and Universities. Even sponsored caskets. Cialis. Visa.

I can imagine that Fed Ex is about to have a great time delivering these to older Americans. Some of you can probably look forward to a Thanksgiving visit to the garage where dad shows you the casket he just bought from Wal-Mart. What a deal? Ol’ Jones down the street doesn’t have one of these!

And Christmas. Oh my. Won’t that casket look wonderful under the tree? (By the way Denise and family….the answer is NO.)

You have to wonder how long it will be before Wal-Mart takes the next step: Install a chapel, attached right next to the big box store, and staff it with funeral attendants and a minister.

Wal-Mart, if you are looking to hire someone in the Southeast Kentucky area, I’m available. Will I get a name tag? And an employee discount? I can do the greeter thing when business is slow.

Don’t forget about those urns. We can get Wal-Mart discount crematoriums right there next to the oil and lube shop.

What do you need ma’am? Cremate your husband? Bay 4. You have a coupon? Great.

So what will we put in those local funeral homes? Around here we always seem to need one more tattoo parlor and tanning salon.

I would say use them for start up churches, but if Wal-Mart goes into church planting…..now there’s an idea…..

[One other note: The ministry where I serve gets a lot of donated items from Wal-mart. We usually take it all and find some way to use or pass it on. So if a donated truckload of hot pink oversized Michael Jackson caskets shows up, I may have an on-line auction 🙂 ]


  1. The most popular casket customization? Camouflage.

  2. Can you buy them on lay-away?

  3. “Even sponsored caskets. Cialis. Visa.”

    Funny, Michael!

  4. Use the used motor oil from all those lube jobs to fuel the crematorium. Two birds: one stone.

  5. Customized caskets.

    You’re behind the times. A story I read about 10 to 15 years ago about the changing industry said how caskets you could write on with Sharpies are big in large urban area so friends can “tag” your casket with their final thoughts.

  6. My favorite is the “Lovely In All Ways” model. Yeah. Right. It’s lovely in all ways except that it’s a CASKET, for crying out loud!

    • Denise, at the St. Meinrad site Michael pointed us to, there’s a (hint! hint!) beautiful “Monastic casket” available. I’m thinking that’s what he really wants for Christmas.

    • Christiane says

      My sister and I picked out my Mom’s casket. Mom was a fashionista in her hey-day,
      and so, not as to let her down (forgive the pun) in something average,
      we decided to go ‘all out’ on the pink model with rose-colored satin interiors. It was the most expensive casket in the show-room, but we wanted to show RESPECT.
      But in showing respect, it was our Father, who stole the show:
      our dear father, suffering from macular-degeneration, bent over my mom in her casket to look at her, and said, ‘As beautiful as ever.’
      They had been married for almost sixty years.

  7. I’m glad that you mentioned Wal-Mart doing start up churches near the end because that came to my mind while reading the post. It just makes sense, doesn’t it? Stop in for a 30 minute service in the chapel conducted by Harley the Greeter (ordained by Wal-Mart’s online “seminary,” of course), then go about your shopping for caskets and other assorted items. Clergy can do continuing education events on site and so much more. Ain’t America a great place?!

    • Wal-Mart won’t need an online seminary to train chaplains. Half the greeters there are already seminary graduated retired missionaries.

  8. It’s only morbid because of our angst over death. Tony Campolo has a lot to say about this angst in “Carpe Diem”. Walmart is probably the most honest business out there, literally catering everything from cradle to grave. Brazen too. Nothing necessarily wrong with that.

    MOD edit

    • “…catering everything from cradle to grave.”

      Rather like the company stores in the coal and lumber camps of the early 20th century. Spend your money there and nowhere else.

  9. Well, they must be selling like proverbial hotcakes. A lot of models appear to be “out of stock”.

    Dumb ox, given Wal-Mart’s. . . er. . . honest mentality, would you really want to hear their answer to your healthcare costs question?

    • On second thought, no. I thought about spending an hour standing in line to see a doctor, and then just before its my turn, the cashier light turns off and I have to move over to a new line. It sounds too much like the healthcare system we already have. People don’t want to be treated like chattel.

      • …Walmart might want to think about fixing this problem before they start catering funerals. Do they want 100 people in queue with their departed loved ones waiting for a funeral service? They might want to improve the ventilation system first. 🙂

  10. I’m dying to get my hands on one of these.

    • Or should I say “INTO one of these…”

      Okay, I’ll stop but Jesus did say “let the dead bury their own dead. You come and follow me.”

  11. Home Depot has cheaper do it yourself materials.

  12. I am pretty sure that Cotsco has been selling caskets for a while now.

  13. Wal-mart hasn’t really put that much out of business. There’s still plenty of competition to them out there, and the “smaller town” effect is barely an effect because funeral arrangements are something you only need to do once. I see no reason why a family in Southern GA wouldn’t go to Atlanta to pick up funeral supplies. Besides, for some really poor people, the cost of a casket is a serious factor, and if lowering the price means that even the poorest homeless man on the street gets a proper burial when he dies, I’m all for it.

    Gravestone’s more important anyways – if we really wanted to be respectful to our dead, we’d have the old style monuments. You know, the one’s that don’t look identical and don’t put the lawnmower ahead of the people buried. I’d be buried in a sack if I could have one of those over my grave.

  14. Um, I hope the cialis sponsored is a logo and not a design embellishment …

    I suppose it was coming, but I must say I read an article a year or two ago about a nation in subsaharan Africa with custom coffins. Being buried in a giant banana, anyone?

  15. as weird as this is, i’ve always thought it was weirder to be a pastor and see families have to feel awful because they have to cut corners a) in casket prices, b) in flowers and decorations, c) in the length of funeral services, d) in amenities like foyer slide shows, and even e) the number of songs at a funeral, all because funerals are outrageously expensive. i remember preaching one funeral where the family had a hard time picking out only 2 songs – all they could afford! the funeral director wouldn’t budge.

    if wal-mart can provide a casket that doesn’t break a family’s financial back, more power to them. still, when i die, it’s cremation all the way!

    • That is sad and ditto on the cremation, so much cheaper all around (plot, burial, etc.).
      My dad is a music pastor and I can’t imagine having to trim the number of songs during a funeral but most that I’ve been to are held in the church the person attended or lives near.


    We’ve lowered our prices………now let us lower you too.

    just picture the warning label on these
    Caution – entering before death can lead to serious health problems or even death.

  17. I’m moderating and deleting so this doesn’t become an “anti Wal-Mart Health Care” discussion.

    Wal Mart’s effect on culture. OK.

    Beyond that, not so much.

  18. “Wal-mart hasn’t really put that much out of business. There’s still plenty of competition to them out there, and the “smaller town” effect is barely an effect because funeral arrangements are something you only need to do once.”

    Could whoever wrote that please provide some statistics to back this claim up? Or was it irony and I missed it?

    I’ve seen directly the effect of Wal-Mart on small town businesses … it’s terrible. I don’t know much about the funeral business, but it would stand to reason that excising the purchase of caskets from the arrangement might put some funeral homes out of business. And I really think I would much rather deal with a local small town funeral home than a Wal-Mart cubby hole … at least when dealing with the death of family members. I would want to know the people; not have it be some fill in the form sort of deal. Blech …

    • Many small, family owned funeral homes have already felt the squeeze of larger “chains.” With the inability to keep up with the prices Wal Mart will offer, local funeral homes will have to raise revenue other ways. That’s why I said, prepare to see “other charges” become a big part of the bill.

  19. How much is shipping on those things?

  20. Abbey Caskets. Great caskets made by monks. Reasonable prices and look much better as coffee tables till you need them.


    • Do you really HAVE one of these in your living room as a coffee table? I agree they certainly would look great (…erhm, comparatively, that is), but what a conversation piece! Talk about keeping your mortality before you. I need someone else to say that they’re doin it first though. Otherwise I would feel weird. 😛

    • See my reply to Denise above. I know what you’re really after, pointing us to St. Meinrads. You sneaky devil.

  21. Christiane says

    You know, when Russia was the USSR and Krushchev was in power, he alsways said to America: ‘We will bury you.’

    I guess that job has been out-sourced to China.

  22. Don’t forget the Heavenly Express model like in the movie with LL Cool J and Cedric the Entertainer.

  23. I would have a hard time spending more on a casket than we have spent on all the furniture in our house. Even the cheapest casket on the monks’ site is more than I would want to spend or would want spent on my “remains.” Guess I will check out the price of the urns.

    I know Catholics some time ago were against cremation, but my understanding is that it is OK now. I think it had to do with the resurrection of the body. But think about it…the human body replaces all the cells every seven years or so. So if you are fifty, you have had seven completely different bodies, so to speak! It’s pretty amazing when you think of it. If all those cells have come and gone but you are still you through it all…what is it that is you? We would say we are the “soul.” But what IS the soul? What are we?

    (Oh gee…I have gone on quite a tangent away from caskets being sold by WalMart!)

    • The Catholic prohibtion against cremation arose, I think, because (1) it had been primarily pagan practice and (2) in the Age of Reason up to the 19th century rationalists and freethinkers promoted cremation as a denial of the resurrection of the body and/or the afterlife.

      So before it became a common practice, having your body cremated was a definite statement of belief (or lack thereof). It became popularized as more hygienic than burial, space-saving in land, more modern, etc. and as it became widespread, the ban was relaxed (although there are still the canon law rules on how funerals are to be conducted before/after cremation).

  24. A very appropriate subject for the time of year 🙂

    As a side note, I’ve never seen anyone buried in a casket (though I think they’re beginning to creep into the Irish market). All the funerals I’ve ever been to had coffins like this one:


    And usually the funeral home handles things. Buying one for yourself, especially from a department store… I don’t know. On the one hand, it’s certainly thinking ahead, and we are all supposed to consider our latter end. On the other hand, it’s kind of consumerism gone rampant, isn’t it?

    Still, put me down for one of those extra-wide ones! 😉

  25. http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=12569165
    $174 for an 100% brass urn. Tom likes brass. BUT…reading carefully, I see this won’t contain ALL of a person’s ashes…just some keepsake ashes. I just want all my ashes in an urn and bury it. I guess I have to check to see how big a pile of ashes I would make. Would I fit in a big coffee can?

    Near the end of that ad it says, “Due to the personal nature of this product we do not accept returns.”

    • Speaking of cremation… it’s only become available in Ireland really over the past twenty years. There are still only four crematoria in Ireland, and three of them are in Dublin (so tough luck if you die anywhere else in the country). The first one wasn’t built till 1982.

      The fourth one was built in 2006, on an island in Cork harbour. There had been an earlier plan put forward to build a crematorium in County Cork in 1995.

      In the village of Ovens 🙂

      • Martha, I don’t have your email address to point you over to this blog where you may want to make a comment so hopefully Michael will allow this TOTALLY off-topic comment.

        Michael Patten has posted a blog challenging the Pope to be clearer on Genesis. You give such great answers to Catholic things here, Martha. I thought you may want to respond there too. Good luck if you do! If you don’t know Michael Patten, he is very familiar to Michael Spencer and has been one of the men to answer Michael’s questions given to groups of priests/ministers.

        Michael, if this goes to your comments to be moderated because of the link, could you please just email this to Martha for me? Thanks!

  26. There are towns in Guatemala where we’ve driven or walked down the street and seen the bakery, the hardware store, the clothing store, the pharmacy, the casket store… wait, what? Floor to ceiling with caskets.

  27. who cares about caskets? Bro Camping says the rapture is near. He may be right this time.

  28. One thing puzzles me: If you buy a casket from Wal-Mart, would funeral homes still be willing to do the rest of the arrangements? Or is this DIY; no embalming, visitation in the living room (or garage)? And burial-most of the cemeteries locally are owned by a funeral home except for the Catholic cemetery. I tend to think that the funeral homes are going to insist on a package deal. Has anyone had experience with a la carte funeral planning?

    • Legally, funeral homes can’t stop you from buying caskets elsewhere (at least in MA and NY, check your state laws) and have to still offer you their services. They won’t be happy though.

  29. L. Winthrop says

    “Is there any reason we can’t hope for customization? Nascar? Disney? Favorite sports teams? Colleges and Universities.”

    This already exists for universities. Another, equally tasteful option is to leave a pre-recorded video greeting, which will activate whenever somebody visits your grave. (“Ow ow ow!”)

    On a serious note, in California the Neptune Society has been bypassing state laws protecting morticians, by dumping people’s ashes over the ocean. The whole thing only costs a few hundred US dollars.

    Of course you can always donate your body to science, after letting them strip it for parts…

  30. That is our most modestly priced receptacle…

  31. Rent a casket is the next step for Wal-Mart. You drive up to the front door and Wal-Mart will loan you a flat cart to wheel old Jack in. First stop is the men’s department where a new pair of overalls can be purchased. Then you will want to stop by the flower dept ..Don’t forget you will need to take pictures. While the body is being prepared , you have time to get you oil changed. By then Jack will be ready for viewing through the drive by window open 24 hours ( except Christmas). After a short service at the back of the store by the store manager, Jack will be removed from the rented casket and placed in a large cardboard box, wheeled out to your pickup for burial. Total cost 89.95 including the oil change…Not Bad

  32. Do these caskets come put together, or is there some assembly required? Can you imagine being up all night before the funeral of a loved one trying figure it all out through trial and error once you’ve given up on trying to match the picture instructions with all the little tidbits in their individual plastic bags — only to discover at the funeral that you’ve installed the pallbearer handles upside down?
    Personally, I’d rather cremate myself using the disassembled casket parts and several gallons of gasoline.

  33. My pastor occasionally builds handmade caskets for members of our church who have a terminal illness, or who have family with terminal illness. They are simple and elegant. One of those, or a simple pine box for me.

  34. I’m from Iowa, and we also have a monestary making beautiful caskets at The New Melleray Abbey. http://www.trappistcaskets.com/index.php

  35. My apologies for too many comments and if I contributed to misguiding the discussion.

    One last thought is that a Walmart funeral is actually the wrong direction – toward even more corporate, inhuman treatment of the dead. When this was a more rural nation, death occurred at home. My dad was very young when his father died, but he remembers his casket being placed in the livingroom at home.

    Father Ernesto might be able to help by explaining the customs of “kedeia”. An Eastern Orthodox priest explained it to me once, how the body is prepared for burial at home, and that it is handled very carefully and lovingly, that literally having the coffin at home (or even constructing it there) is a very normal practice.

    Death is no friend of the Christian, but that should not make us treat the dead with any less dignity. Death has no sting, because Jesus is risen.

  36. Caskets made in China? If they’re anything like clothing, they’ll run a bit small. Will they have lead paint issues?

  37. I saw this on an episode of the BBC show “Dragon’s Den” where people will seek out investors for their products, development, marketing, etc from “Dragons”.


    THAT’s a Wal-Mart product.

  38. Nothing new here, except for wider availability, as Costco has been selling caskets for a couple years or so now for about the same prices.