When Casey Lawhon heard about the tragic drowning of a two-year-old boy named Sawyer, he helped ease his parents’ pain the best way he knew how.
Casey, 25, has been customizing coffins for young people who were gone too soon. After seeing his work, Sawyer’s parents reached out to him and asked if he could design their precious boy’s casket.
Casey learned that Sawyer loved Mickey Mouse, so he wrapped his casket with a picture of Mickey Mouse on a floating carpet in the clouds along with the message “Never forgotten Little Sawyer” and “I love you Momma and Dad’ee.”
Inside the casket, Mickey Mouse is seen flying toward a cartoon image of Sawyer in heaven.
“I think it symbolized peace in a tragic event,” Casey said. “I believe Sawyer is at rest and at peace.”
Casey started “In Memory Casket Wraps” in February 2022 in Gulfport, Mississippi, after experiencing a great loss in his own family.
His sister and best friend, Raelan Lawhon, passed away in January 2022 after taking an oxycodone pill that she didn’t know was laced with fentanyl. She was only 21 years old.
“My mom found her in her house. I was one of the first people there. I left here. It just changed everything,” Casey said.
The siblings grew up in McHenry and attended Stone High together. They were an inseparable duo. After high school, they moved to Gulfport and lived next to each other until Raelan’s untimely passing.
For the past three years, Casey has owned his vehicle wrapping business, KC Wraps, and Raelan would often help him at the shop. Devastated by the loss, he wanted to do something special to honor his little sister.
Using his creative skills, Casey wrapped Raelan’s coffin in angel statues, pink flowers, and gray clouds to celebrate her favorite colors.
“That was the first casket I ever done,” he said. “I did it for her. I did not do this for anything else. Just for her.”
Casey shared photos and videos of Raelan’s coffin on social media, and it went viral. Several funeral home owners and individuals encouraged him to start his own casket-wrapping business. However, he feared that people would think he was doing it for the money.
“I was more afraid of feeling like I was turning this into an investment opportunity,” he said.
But when Sawyer’s family reached out to him, Casey realized he had a calling to fulfill and started the business.
Casey solicits donations from the community to help families cover the costs of the coffins. For Sawyer’s casket, he managed to raise $700 in eight minutes.
“Just losing a child is so unexpected,” he said. Not one family has had to pay for the coffins he’s decorated for kids who have passed on.
Casey would also solicit donations for older clients at the request of their families.
“I don’t even think about the money,” he said. “If anything, I’m just sharing a fraction of pain that the families are going through. It just opens up that wound, and it brings me back to day one (when Raelan died).”
Since opening his business in February, Lawhon has decorated coffins for eight children, with more requests lined up.
“I do this for total peace of mind. It brings peace to families. It brings peace to everybody there, knowing that they sent their loved one out the best way they could,” he said.
Casey admitted that being surrounded by death “takes a toll.” But he said, “if I stop what I’m doing, it would just eat me up.”
He said he will continue working to honor Raelan and ensure that she is never forgotten.
“I make sure her name is pushed every single time I do something. I am not letting my little sister’s name go away,” Casey said.
You may follow In Memory Casket Wraps on Facebook.
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