The rise of the coffin club

Posted: 21/06/2018

Thinking of taking up a new hobby, but want to go for something just that little bit different from the usual of taking up knitting, or learning a new language? Well, why don’t you try a coffin-decorating workshop instead if you really want to go for something truly unique? Perfect Funeral Plans takes a further look at Coffin Club UK, launched in 2017 by the Independent Funeral Celebrants Kate Tym and Kate Dyer, having originally been inspired by a New Zealand based Coffin Club that has been successfully running for many years.

What is a coffin club?

The two Kates have created a how-to workshop based in Sussex that provides coffin-personalising classes to people, with the intention of getting more coffin clubs set up around the country.

The idea behind it is that people will be able to come to better come to terms with the concept of death, as well as promoting different ways in which death can be done. Talking about death remains much of a taboo in the UK, with reports that death has become such a difficult subject to approach with friends or family members  that it is leading to a ‘crisis of communication’, with people not being able to express how their final days to be spent, or what they would like to happen to them after they have passed away.

For example, in a study that was carried out in 2017 by Macmillian on thousands of cancer patients, 38 per cent who ended up dying due to cancer had ended up spending their final days in a hospital. However, less than one per cent would have wanted this to be where they died, with more than 64 per cent stating that they would prefer to die at home.

At a coffin club then, people have the opportunity to prepare and plan their funeral wish list, planning all the details including costs, as well as things like wills, as well as also having the option to personalise their coffin, if they so wish.

Kate T has spoken about the UK’s problem with communicating about death “Culturally, we’re not very good at death… we shuffle our old people into care homes, we separate from our children by sending them away to school. We’ve become very removed from all these rites of passage in our lives. And the way we look at death is part of that.”

The coffin club wants to change the narrative when it comes to talking about end of life plans, celebrating it rather than making it a depressing subject. The coffin club, in many respects, is about educating people who come there about the options available to them in a dedicated safe space where they can talk freely, with a number of industry specialists making appearances at the coffin club events.

Who is the coffin club aimed at?


The creators of the UK version of the Coffin Club with the flat-packed coffins that people attend their event can buy at a far reduced cost than if it was bought through a funeral director.

The coffin club meetups are predominantly aimed at the elderly, those who are suffering from a terminal illness, or for those who are caring for someone who is dying. However, providing that you are open to discuss and plan death, the event is open to anyone.

How much does it cost to attend coffin club?

This depends upon the reasons for which you are intending to go to coffin club. It is free if you simply want to listen to talks, and get advice and guidance on planning your funeral, however, there is a cost for decorating your coffin. This will cost you £240 in total, where you will receive a Dutch flat-packed coffin which is suitable for either a cremation or a burial. Included in this cost is help on how to make it. Once decorated, they can be easily made flat-packed again and can then be put away into storage.

The coffins themselves can fit anyone up to the height of 6’4 and those who are up to 18 stone in weight.

What are the advantages of coffin club?

There a number of different advantages of attending to a coffin club:

  • You get to discuss death in a safe space
  • The coffins themselves are considerably less expensive than if you had decided to get one through a funeral director, and with the prices of funerals increasing year-on-year, reaching an average now of over £4,000, this is a definite bonus, allowing you to spend money on other aspects of the funeral instead
  • The event is free, providing guidance and support on funeral planning at no cost
  • If you decide to purchase a coffin at the event, you have the opportunity to show creative freedom when it comes to how your coffin will look like
  • The event helps to make discussing death less of taboo, helping to break down barriers and therefore hopefully also having a knock-on effect on the  friends and family members of those who attend the coffin club, making it easier to discuss death with their nearest and dearest

How do I join the coffin club?

Currently, the coffin club is based in one location in Hastings, running on a Wednesday morning for six weeks between 12th September and 17th October 2018. To find out more details about the talks that will be held during these weeks and how you can get involved, click here.

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