Choosing a Funeral Home
When a loved one dies, there are dozens of things that need to be done. One of the first, of course, is to find a funeral home (and, of course, find someone to write and present a eulogy – we’d suggest TheEulogyWriters.com for your eulogy writing needs). A good funeral director can guide you though the entire process, making it as little stressful as possible. Most are highly trained and, by nature, very sensitive people.
Following are some simple steps to follow to make sure the person you have and the facility they represent are exactly what you need and want.
Step 1: Decide What You Want
Location: This is priority one. The funeral must take place in a location that is convenient to family and friends to get to on short notice. Weddings are great for ‘destination’ events, but funerals need to be accessible. This, of course, severely limits your choices. Some cities and suburban areas have dozens of choices, but smaller communities may be limited to one or two or, maybe, a couple more in a neighboring town.
Loved One’s Wishes:
Did your loved one express a desire for a traditional funeral or for cremation? Did he or she have a connection to a particular funeral home – perhaps because one of their loved ones was buried from there? If cremation is the desire, your choices will be limited to those who provide cremation services.
It is sometimes (although not always) preferable to work with a funeral home that also operates a cemetery or memorial garden. It may be more cost effective and the chances of everything working seamlessly are more likely. However, even those not associated with cemeteries are usually quite experienced with working with whichever cemetery you might choose. But again, physical location of the cemetery in relation to the funeral home is an issue.
Knowing what you want at the beginning of your search makes the whole process so much easier and less stressful.
Step 2: Discuss – Make Decisions After Consulting Family and Friends
Nearly everyone has had a loved one die. Most will readily give a review of their experience with any particular funeral home and director. Word-of-mouth from trusted friends and family may be the best advice you will ever get.
Even if friends and family have not actively participated in the planning of a funeral at a funeral home, many will have attended a service and can share with you their impressions – how well it was coordinated, how friendly the staff was, how the celebrant did…
If you get rave reviews about a particular funeral director, you will still want to check to see if that director still works at the funeral home. Unless they are owners, funeral home personnel is often quite fluid and your reputed director may well have moved on to another facility (in which case you’ll want to find out where and see if that one fits your needs).
Step 3: Do Your Research on Local Funeral Homes
Research is easy in today’s world. Just go to the internet and you can find what you want. First, determine the location and services or a particular funeral home, (as well as any cultural and/or religious affiliations, if that is important to you).
Search this Directory for the Very Best Funeral Homes in Your Area
Next, read customer reviews. People who leave reviews are usually passionate one way or the other. The outstanding reviews probably make more of it than necessary and the negative ones probably exaggerate their dislike. The truth is somewhere in between.
Sometimes the funeral home website will have videos or other helpful things to give insight into who they are and what they do. Most funeral home staff are not overly web proficient, so be aware that what you read and see is put together by a web designer and may not give an accurate picture of what the funeral home is really like. But it will give you a hint. It was their input the web designer used.
We recommend that any funeral home you use be a member of a state or national funeral home association. This means they are up to date on the latest regulations and have certain ethical and professional standards to meet. Such affiliation is easily determined. It will be on their website or you can simply ask.
Many funeral homes in America today are no longer ‘family’ owned as they were in the past, even though they may still carry the family name. The funeral home industry is being bought out by mammoth corporations. This is both good and bad. The corporation requires certain standards of conduct, aesthetics and professionalism, but also takes away some of the personalness of the experience. Directors have little ‘wiggle room’ when dealing with clients.
Step 4: Tour the Funeral Homes That Meet Your RequirementsAfter you have finished steps 1 to 3, you will, hopefully, have a list of no more than 3 funeral homes that fit your criteria. Call and set up a meeting, letting them know you are shopping. If they are aware that you are doing some comparisons, they will put their best foot forward and may give you discounts in order to get your business (here again, corporate funeral homes probably won’t be able to give discounts – directors don’t have that discretion).
Most funeral directors are very friendly people, but you may find some that give off a bad ‘vibe.’ These informal meetings are good to find this out before you sign up. Taking a friend or relative with you is probably a good idea, too. He/she can observe things that you may have missed.
Be sure to get assurance that the director you meet and talk with will be the one who works with you for the funeral. Often there is a representative for the funeral home that does not actually do the directing. You want to meet the actual person who you will be working with.
Before meeting with the funeral director, compose a list of questions:
Step 5: Make Your Decision and Get to It
After you have gone through all the above, it is time to make a decision on a funeral home to work with. They will ask you to complete and sign a service agreement and, once done, they will get to work.
The funeral for your loved one will be a special event because you have thought about and considered all the options and made rational decisions.
Don’t forget to send your funeral director and the officiant a thank you note. Such acts of appreciation are rare but are truly appreciated.
Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and is probably the most prolific eulogy writer (and, no doubt, the best) anywhere. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones.