He started out by making a tribute to his sister but began receiving requests from parents who had lost kids to wrap their caskets.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 21, 2022. It has since been updated.
Casey Lawhon is helping heartbroken parents say goodbye to their children. Lawhon has been customizing coffins for children with themes that they like. For a 2-year-old Sawyer, it was a coffin designed with images of Mickey Mouse, the toddler's favorite character. The boy had died from drowning and Lawhon was contacted to create a wrap. After seeking the permission of the boy's parents, he decorated the toddler's casket with Mickey Mouse floating on a carpet in the clouds with the message "Never forgotten Little Sawyer" and "I love you Momma and Dad’ee." The inside of the casket featured Mickey Mouse flying toward a cartoon version of Sawyer in heaven. "I think it symbolized peace in a tragic event," said Lawhon. "I believe Sawyer is at rest and at peace."
Lawhon's work stems from a deeply personal loss. He lost his 21-year-old sister in January 2022 when she died after taking an oxycodone pill that was unknowingly laced with fentanyl. Lawhon owned a vehicle-wrapping business in Mississippi and used his expertise to wrap her casket in pink flowers with a grey background. It was his way of honoring her memory and capturing the essence of her character. "That was the first casket I ever done. I did it for her. I did not do this for anything else. Just for her," he said, reported Fox 11 LA.
After his sister's funeral, a few funeral homeowners urged him to start his own casket-wrapping business. He refused because it wasn't about the money for him. It was about doing something personal for his sister, who meant the world to him. "I do this in memory of her." After designing his sister's casket, he got requests from many who had lost their kid. "Just losing a child is so unexpected," he said. "I do this for total peace of mind," he added. "It brings peace to families. It brings peace to everybody there, knowing that they sent their loved one out the best way they could."
Then one day, a family of a deceased 18-month-old baby contacted him asking if he could casket wrap for their boy. It was at that moment he realized what it meant to parents who had lost their loved ones and wanted to pay tribute just as he had wanted to do for his sister. He was now looking at it as his life mission. "I didn’t realize how much it meant to them," he said. Since starting the venture last month, he has wrapped caskets for eight children with many requests pending. The 25-year-old said it's not easy when your work is surrounded by death. It is taking a toll on him but he won't stop because he knows what it means for those parents. "If I stop what I’m doing, it would just eat me up."
He started "In Memory Casket Wraps" in February 2022 in Gulfport, Mississippi. He creates wraps, decorates and personalizes caskets for families who lost loved ones. He always prioritizes those who have lost children and sometimes even helps solicit donations to help those who can't afford it. Members of the community always chip in to help Lawhon, well aware of his service to the community. He raised $700 in eight minutes for 2-year-old Sawyer’s casket. For another casket, he raised $1,400 in 35 minutes. He also solicits donations for older clients at the request of grieving families.