How to Choose a Funeral Director - A Comprehensive Guide
Losing a loved one can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re tasked with arranging the funeral. Funeral directors are here to help take the weight off of your shoulders. It can be hard to deal with if you’re recently bereaved and it might seem that all funeral directors are the same, or that there are too many choices.
A common misconception that struggling families often have is that you have to make funeral arrangements as soon as possible. In fact, it is advised that you take some time to consider your options to plan the day that fits with your families desires and what your loved one would have wanted.
Often, families feel under enormous pressure to imperatively decide on a funeral director. This can lead to a funeral service that isn’t in line with your family needs, or a funeral that is too costly.
This is why we have made this comprehensive guide of all the things to know before choosing a funeral director, things to consider whilst choosing a funeral director, and ultimately how to make the choice that works best for you and your family.
Things to consider before choosing
Firstly, each family has their own desires and wants for their loved one’s funeral service. There may be a special date or time that you wish the service to take place. If that’s the case, you will need to check with funeral directors their personal availability, and the availability of a particular location if you have one in mind.
Secondly, funerals can cost a lot of money. The average cost of a burial in the UK is £5,033 and £3,885 for a cremation. Without a funeral director, the costs of a funeral can swing either way; they may be more expensive or they may not be.
Funeral director firms can, sometimes, overcharge you for an urn or a coffin. Therefore, it is important to explore your own options here, especially if you are money conscious.
Personally, we would recommend looking for your own coffin or urn as it can actually provide a certain sense of closure and relief by finding something that truly resonates with your loved one.
What does a funeral director actually do?
A funeral director can be responsible for organising as many things as you need, or as little as you need. It is important to remember that funeral plans should be totally customisable to suit your families needs, and you shouldn’t have to pay for anything you don’t want.
- They are responsible for the relocation of the body to a funeral home and then to the venue where the funeral will be held.
- They prepare the body for the funeral by washing and dressing the body. This is mainly to allow the family to visit the loved one for a final time in the funeral home in order to say their goodbyes.
- They are a constant beacon of support to aid you through the process of planning the perfect funeral.
- Sort out the funeral paperwork that is required for either the burial or the cremation, whichever option you decide to go with.
- Provide a coffin or an urn.
- Arrange and organise the funeral service, including the burial or cremation
- Guide your family and your guests throughout the day.
- Cooperate with third-party service providers such as arranging transport, ordering service sheets, creating notices in the newspaper, planning the music, catering, flowers, and any other services the family desires.
- Booking the desired venue.
- Arranging for a celebrant to perform the service.
- Handling charitable donations.
- Overseeing the day of the funeral as a whole to make sure the day runs smoothly and everything is to plan.
- Arranging other optional services such as embalming of the body, DWP applications, repatriation to or from another country.
- Preparing the ashes to return to the family.
- Organising a memorial.
- Liaising with a crematorium, or booking a burial plot.
- They may also offer to provide ongoing support beyond the scale that ends when the funeral ends.
How to choose one?
There are a variety of ways you can start off with when choosing your funeral director. There may be a large firm that you have in mind or you may be interested in choosing an independent funeral director.
You can find lists of many independent firms via national associations such as the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) or the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF).
Take your time and remember you don’t have to rush into anything.
Finding the right funeral director to arrange the day is important for you and your family.
- Compare prices, especially if you’re on a budget. It is possible for some funeral directors to take advantage of grieving families. They understand this is an exceptionally difficult time and that you might want/need to take a step back from being overly involved in the funeral arrangements.
- Take the time to look over recent reviews that might be online or that you have heard from others. These can be really helpful if you are unsure of who to go with.
- Take some time to investigate the breakdown of services they offer and if they have everything that you’re looking for.
- Check their payment options, especially if you’re struggling with your finances.
- Investigate their qualifications and make sure these match your requirements.
- Take the time to meet with the funeral director. You want to make sure you find someone who makes you feel comfortable and who you trust so you can freely express your wishes to them.
Whilst taking into consideration recommendations, it is important to remember that the right funeral director for you might not be the right funeral director for another. Pay special attention to your needs and follow your gut.
Finding a funeral director
You might be feeling overwhelmed with all the choices and things to consider, making finding a funeral director seem like an even more difficult task. Here are some basic steps to take to refine what kind of funeral director you might be looking for.
- Firstly, someone might have already set up a financial plan to cover the costs of their funeral. If you are unsure, The Funeral Planning Authority can help you find out if a person did have one that you can’t find.
- Alternatively, they may have specified in their will what kind of funeral they wish to take place upon the event of their death. It is important to consider this when choosing a funeral director to make sure their last wishes are fulfilled.
- Explore the Funeral Directors Register, a service run by the National Federation of Funeral Directors.
- Ask around for local recommendations.
- Decide if you want to opt for an eco-friendly funeral. The Association of Green Funeral Directors or the Natural Death Centre can help you find the right funeral director for you in this case.
Consider asking a funeral director questions
You may want to ask questions to find out if funeral directors are willing to offer the right funeral service for your family. We have listed a few examples below which may help you.
- What are the basic services that you provide?
- What optional services do you have?
- Do you have specific funeral packages available?
- Can we make a tailored plan to suit our needs?
- Have you arranged funerals similar to what we are asking for?
- Do you have any alternative ideas that are in accordance with our loved one’s wishes?
- Can you give me an estimated price plan?
- What do your charges include?
- When do we pay the bill?
- Do we have to pay a deposit?
- Do we have to buy a coffin or an urn through you or can we do it independently?
- Can we provide our own transport?
- Can friends or family members carry the coffin?
Ultimately, finding a funeral director should be a decision that isn’t taken lightly. It is important to find the right person to organise a dignified tribute for your loved one. Take your time when weighing up your options, contact multiple local funeral directors and finally, ask them many questions.