According to this story in The New York Times, D.I.Y. coffin clubs bring people together to build their own burial containers, which they playfully call “underground furniture.”
People aged from their 70s to their 90s get together weekly to do woodworking and make their own coffins, the six-sided boxes that are wider at the shoulders and narrower at the feet. A casket is a rectangular box.
The coffins can be used as aboveground furniture, such as book cases, coffee tables and as seating when covered with blankets and padding. Check out this photo of a casket bookcase made for my friend, Ben Laden.
In the story, Grace Terry, 77, a former nurse in Hawke’s Bay, on the North Island of New Zealand, said, “I’ve seen people come alive making their own coffins.” Once club members have made their own coffins, many will continue making caskets for those facing indigent burials.
Back in 2014, Dr. Jeffrey Piehler wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times about the life-affirming benefits of building his own coffin. He was a guest on my internet radio show and shared some wonderful insights. Read more and listen to the interview here.
His story was brilliantly told in a documentary, Patient, A Surgeon’s Journey. The film tells Dr. Piehler’s life story as he honestly faced his own mortality, prostate cancer, and end-of-life issues.
The film is available on DVD, video on demand, rental and for public screenings. Learn more at www.PatientTheMovie.com.
Building your own coffin is a positive way to face your own mortality and improve your woodworking skills at the same time.
UPDATE: These same folks made a lighthearted music video about their coffin club: