Choosing a funeral director can seem like a daunting task, but with this simple advice and questioning, you may be in a position to fully understand any funeral director’s methods and practices within a very short space of time which will then enable you to make an informed decision.
Cost is an ever increasing issue within the funeral service.
It is important to remember that you do have the time to ‘shop around’.
Obtain at least 3 estimates from three different funeral directors. Just within one town, each of the funeral director’s costs can fluctuate by as much as £3000.
When gathering estimates, it is a good idea to use the opportunity to visit the funeral home. This will mean that you can request a written estimate as well as their ‘Price Card’. This is the list of all the services for which they make a charge. An estimate can often be misleading as some funeral directors will make additional charges for some of their services E.g. – Collection/delivery of cremated remains, administration of charitable donations. I have even seen additional changes made for coffin handles and pillows. These charges can be added on later, leaving you with a final invoice that far resembles the initial estimate.
2. Visit the funeral home and meet the funeral director
By visiting the funeral home and asking some specific questions you can very quickly get a clear picture of how you and your deceased loved one will be cared for.
On being greeted onto the premises, ask the member of staff who they are and what their role is.
If they are not the funeral director, then ask where the funeral director is.
The reason for these questions is that some funeral companies operate multiple funeral homes. This type of operation is not specific to the corporate companies either. Some ‘Family Run, Independent’ funeral directors will also operate in this way.
This technically isn’t an issue. The issue is the way in which they use their staff.
There may be only one funeral director for two or three funeral homes, with a funeral service arranger at each of the funeral homes. They will ensure the running of the funeral home and make the funeral arrangements. This person can often too be a Funeral Operative; the person employed to look after the vehicles and bear the coffin on the day of the funeral. This member of staff will often have no funeral arrangement experience but is simply being used to keep the funeral home open.
My recommendation here is to be looking for a funeral director who values the care and service that they are providing enough, to be making all the arrangements themselves – I.e., The person who brings the deceased person into their care from the place of death, should ideally be the funeral director, the person who sits with the grieving family to make arrangements and then actions the arrangements and choices, should be the funeral director and the person who is there on the day, taking control of the arrangements that they have made and guiding the family and all in attendance though the service should be the funeral director.
The funeral profession should not be the place for nameless faces and faceless names. People who are suffering at their worst deserve continuity in personal care and attention.
Whilst still visiting the funeral home, ask to be shown around the premises.
Ask to be shown the place or the facility where the deceased rest. Now, I’m not saying that you have to go and see it. It is in fact the response that you get which will be enlightening.
If you are refused, ask for what reason.
You may be told one of the following –
· It’s staff only – No public are permitted in there
· The facilities are not on these premises
If you are told the first, then you should be asking yourself what they are trying to hide (other than resting deceased). It is usually possible for anyone to see the facilities without the deceased being exposed as they are often kept in a separate area.
If you are told the latter then it is for you to decide whether or not this is acceptable, but ask yourself if you believe they would have told you had you not asked?
As I have said, if you are granted permission then you don’t actually need to see the facilities. Being given the opportunity is enough to know that the funeral director is open and honest with nothing to hide.
If you do choose to view the facilities, expect to have to wait 10-15 minutes or even to have to come back by appointment. A funeral director’s first concern should always be that of the respect and dignity of the deceased in their care and it is important that they are given some time to uphold this.
3. Telephone the funeral director ‘out of hours’
Once again this can be quite insightful as to how you and your family will be taken care of.
Funeral Directors operate a 24/7 business. This is owing to the fact that death can occur at any time so we need to be available not only to attend to a deceased person but also to a grieving family.
Some funeral homes are owned by corporate companies with the two main ones being Dignity and The Co-operative Funeral Care. It can be difficult to distinguish which of the funeral homes are owned by these companies so if you’d like to find out which is which you can do so by calling them between 5pm and 9am.
The corporate companies use a call centre to take their calls outside of office hours.
You can differentiate further between the two corporate companies. If you ask to be put through to the ‘Duty Funeral Director’ Dignity will put you though, the Co-op will have them call you back as they don’t operate this facility.
The ‘Duty Funeral Director’ is the funeral director who is responsible for several funeral homes during the out of hours’ period. If you’re funeral director or funeral arranger is not the ‘Duty Funeral Director’ at that time, you will not be able to make contact with them until the office is open.
The call centres used by the corporate companies are a wonderful thing for the staff who work for them.
An independent or family funeral director will have their phones answered by a member of staff.
Once again though, this may not always be the funeral director and can often be the funeral arranger or the funeral operative; people who can’t always answer your queries.
My advice again is to look for some continuity in the people you are dealing with and the level of care and service you’re expecting to receive.
I completely understand that to many who are grieving, carrying out this advice can seem like a lot, as well as being quite daunting. For this reason, I suggest either doing these things before you are in need of the services of a funeral director or ask a close friend or relative to do this on your behalf.
Each funeral director will operate differently depending on the size of the company, the management and the ownership. Please, take some time to make sure you are happy with the way in which your chosen funeral director operates. It really can make all the difference to the level of service that you’ll receive as well as the cost that you pay for that service.
Be Blessed x