Our parish is planning a panel discussion in the fall on end-of-life issues; hospice services, estate planning, living wills, spiritual preparations for death, etc. Perhaps we should add mention of exploding caskets to the program. Josh Slocum, a funeral industry watchdog, writes at the Washington Post blog:
You’ve never heard of exploding casket syndrome (ask your mortician if it’s right for you), but funeral directors and cemetery operators have. They sell so-called “protective” or “sealer” caskets at a premium worth hundreds of dollars each, with the promise that they’ll keep out air and moisture that — they would have you believe — cause bodies to rapidly deteriorate. Like Tupperware for the dead, they “lock in the freshness!” with a rubber gasket.
But, in reality, you can’t protect a corpse from itself. While you’re insulating grandma from the outside air, she could be stewing in her own fluids, turning into a slurry from the work of anaerobic bacteria. When the weather turns warm, in some cases, that sealed casket becomes a pressure cooker and bursts from accumulated gases and fluids of the decomposing body.
If you have the stomach for it, read more here. (I think ashes buried in the dirt of a churchyard are definitely the way to go.)