Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Funeral Home
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Making funeral arrangements is difficult for everyone – no one wants to think about their or another’s death. But trying to make arrangements when you’re grieving the sudden loss of a loved one is especially stressful.
Whether you're planning far in advance or on short notice, choosing the right funeral home makes all the difference. Here are some tips for making the goodbye less stressful and memorable in all the right ways.
Decide on the Funeral Type
The funeral home you select should be committed to honoring your loved one your way, whether that’s based on your loved one’s religious beliefs, financial limitations, or special requests.
The best funerals are highly personalized. Spend some time thinking about the deceased’s cultural background, spiritual beliefs, guiding values, lifelong passions, favorite music, hobbies, special talents and sense of humor. What impact did your loved one have on people’s lives?
No matter what sort of service you have in mind, the funeral home should gladly accommodate you and help you plan the tribute you envision. Even if your wishes are somewhat unconventional, don’t let the staff try to talk you out of going with your instincts. People are unique, and their funerals should reflect this.
Additionally, the staff should be respectful and ready to help you say goodbye in any way you need. If the director or staff members of a funeral home are doing all the talking, you’re probably in the wrong place. Good listening skills are evidence of compassion and professionalism.
Consider the Cost
There’s no getting around it: a funeral is a major expense. According to Parting.com, the average funeral now costs between $7,000 and $10,000 for a simple service. That’s why it’s so important to shop around. Doing thorough research could save thousands of dollars.
Funeral directors don’t have to post their prices online or send quotes by email. However, the Federal Trade Commission requires them to provide quotes in person or over the phone. When you call various businesses, insist on transparency. Ask about all of the potential costs, from funeral preparation to the cost of the service itself.
The total cost should include both optional and required products as well as all services. In addition to the mandatory basic services fee, there are often charges for removal and transfer of the remains, embalming and other preparation of the body, the use of the facilities and staff during the viewing and service, a hearse, a metal casket and a printed memorial package.
Most funeral homes do not have on-site crematories. Along with the viewing and funeral costs, you’ll want to consider whether you’ll need to pay for third-party cremation and a cremation casket or urn.
Here are the guidelines funeral homes must follow:
- Provide a general price list
- Indicate items that are required by state law
- Give customers the right to choose, with some exceptions, the products and services they desire
- Use a casket that you purchased elsewhere without charging a fee
- Offer alternative containers for the body or ashes
Funeral packages can save money, but there should be a variety of options for different budgets. Don’t pay for things you don’t want. Preplanned funerals are also cost-effective, and you don't necessarily have to prepay. In fact, many experts advise against it. Although cost is a key consideration, you don’t want cost to sway your thoughts and your loved one’s wishes when planning something as emotional as a funeral.
Verify the Funeral Home’s Reputation
These days, it’s easy enough to find out if a bank, car-repair shop, grocery store, restaurant or dry cleaner isn’t up to standard. The same is true for funeral homes.
It's wise to read online reviews and testimonials. Consider how long the funeral home has been in business. A family-owned, long-time fixture in the community is usually a safe bet. If you’re planning a funeral in another city, ask friends and family members for recommendations.
Visit the funeral home’s website. Its history, mission statement and core values will help you decide if it’s a good fit.
Ask About the Staff and Special Services
Funeral homes build their reputations on professionalism, trustworthiness, and respect, so those should be evident from the first call or visit. Your calls should be returned courteously and promptly. If you feel like you’re being rushed, ignored or talked into services you don’t need, keep shopping.
The best funeral homes go the extra mile. Staff members convey sincere compassion. They are committed to walking with you every step of the way. They won’t just meet your needs; they will anticipate them.
Many funeral homes provide special touches such as counseling, grief resources, information about support groups, family-friendly services and even grief-therapy dogs. In short, there are sources of comfort you never would have thought of.
Start Your Search for a Funeral Home Online
The internet has a seemingly infinite number of resources to help you plan. Don't be shy about leaning on friends and family members for support. You'll do a better job of honoring your loved one if you take care of yourself.
Although planning a goodbye and choosing a funeral home is a difficult process, especially while grieving or thinking about the future, it’s important to do careful research to ensure you’re choosing the best option. Start your search online, where you can easily compare locations, services, costs, and reputations from different funeral homes. From there, you can learn more in-depth information to help guide your very important choice.
Like anything, it's always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.