According to this year’s National Funeral Costs Index, the cost of hiring a funeral director accounts for half of the expenses associated with the burial of a loved one and almost two-thirds of the financial outlay for cremations. What exactly is all that money being spent on?
The truth is that funeral directors provide an invaluable service which can help grieving families through the most difficult of times. As well as overseeing the logistics and practicalities of organising and conducting a successful funeral, they can also provide a rock of comfort and assurance just when bereaved family members and friends need it most. Of course, different funeral directors will offer varying levels of service, but generally speaking, the different elements of funeral services offered by them will be similar.
Here is a shortlist of all of the services you can expect a funeral director to provide. Depending on the size and scale of their operation, they may not be able to offer all of these, and if you are in doubt about anything, you should consult them directly prior to hiring them. Alternatively, you are also free to undertake as many or as few of them as you wish yourself.
Before the service
• Collection of body. A funeral director will arrange a mutually convenient time for them to pick up the body from the hospital, nursing home or other location where the person has died. If you wish to retain the body of the deceased in your home, they can also help with this.
• Preparation of body. A funeral director will wash and embalm the body (if required), as well as close their eyes and mouth, shave and style their hair, apply makeup and make general preparations to make the body presentable for the ceremony (again, as required). They will also store the body until the date of the funeral.
• Handling the paperwork. A funeral director can take care of the legal side of the funeral for you, including the application for the burial or cremation. They are also capable of placing notices and obituaries in newspapers if you so desire.
• Arranging the funeral. Working closely with the family, the funeral director will endeavour to meet the wishes of the deceased and their loved ones as closely as possible. They will engage a minister, celebrant or other officiating individual (if they are not officiating themselves), set a date, time and place, arrange for transportation of the body and oversee the printing of the order of service.
• Offer extra services. An experienced funeral director will have the connections to organise any ancillary services required by the family, such as the selection of the coffin, floral arrangements, catering services, limousine rental and engagement of pallbearers. These are generally extra add-ons which you can either accept or decline, often choosing between varying price levels.
During the service
• Transportation of the body. The funeral director will ensure that the body arrives on time and in the appropriate condition at the funeral, in the coffin that has been agreed upon by the family.
• Supervise pallbearers. A funeral director will make sure all pallbearers know exactly what their job is to ensure that the coffin arrives safely inside the service venue.
• Conducting the service. If not conducting the service themselves, a good funeral director will introduce the family to whoever is doing so well in advance of the day itself so that they can become more at ease with the person.
• Superintendence of the service. Even if the funeral director cannot be at the service in person, representatives of their business should be in attendance to help people to their seats, distribute the order of service and perhaps accept donations on behalf of the deceased. Placement of flowers and playing of music are also services handled by the funeral director, regardless of whether that is a collection of the deceased’s favourite songs or a live recital from the venue’s organ player.
• Arranging the wake. If necessary, a funeral director can provide guidance on a suitable venue for the wake, as well as organising catering, transportation and anything else you might need. These services are generally optional extras.
After the funeral
• Placement of thanks. As well as placing notices and obituaries prior to the funeral, a funeral director can also arrangement for acknowledgements and thanks to be placed in local media outlets.
• Cremation. At cremation funerals, a funeral director will arrange for the ashes of the deceased to be placed into an urn or other suitable receptacle. They can also help with scattering the ashes in the family’s chosen location, as well as storing them until that time if required.
• Burials. In the case of a burial, a funeral director can help to select a headstone or other memorial and arrange for its installation at the site of interment. With many legal guidelines dictating the exact conditions surrounding memorials these days, they can provide invaluable insight and advice at this juncture.
• Bereavement support. The best funeral directors are well aware that they are dealing with sensitive people struggling through one of the most difficult times in their life. For that reason, they can provide support and guidance before, during and after the funeral to ensure that you have a service that is a fitting tribute to the deceased.
Choosing a funeral director
Those concerned about the expensive outlay associated with contracting a funeral director may be tempted to dispense with their services altogether and take on the arrangements for the funeral themselves. While there’s no certainly no law which requires you to hire a funeral director and you may be more than capable of handling things yourself, the amount of planning, work and emotional stress which goes into arranging a funeral should not be underestimated. That’s why so many people choose to leave things in the hands of a trained professional who can ensure the process comes off without a hitch.
When trying to find the right funeral director, it’s a good idea to compare and contrast the services, costs and advantages of more than one option before making your selection. If in doubt, you can use our funeral director comparison tool to locate available individuals in your area. Alternatively, if you’d like any further advice from Your Funeral Choice, feel free to give us a call on 01983 754 387 and we’ll be happy to provide any help we can.