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June 11, 2018 Beyond The Dash

How to Choose the Right Funeral Home

For you, your family and your recently deceased loved one

How to Choose the Right Funeral Home
There are some key things to consider when trying to choose the right funeral home for a loved one's memorial service. (Shutterstock)

Deciding which funeral home to trust with your loved one's arrangements is an overwhelming process. For those who died suddenly, or left no final wishes behind, their survivors must make critical decisions about bodily care before, during and after the funeral. These are not light decisions, and they must be made on very short notice. What considerations should be made before selecting a funeral home? Here is our list of the top five resources to consult before making this important decision.


1. Consider the deceased individual


Was the deceased person religious? Atheist? Did they have a strong tie to culture and traditions? Or were they an unconventional soul who marched to the beat to their own drum? Whatever values and character they embodied should be reflected in their final arrangements. Religious and personal preferences for burial, cremation and memorialization need to be paramount in the planning process. 


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If in doubt, ask those who knew the deceased best, or spent time with them during their final days. If they had any final requests, but were unable to write them down, those wishes should be honored as much as possible. 


2. Don't skip customer reviews


This is a decision you only get to make once. You and your family will have to live with the result of the service, so it's essential to select a professional, honest and reputable funeral home and director. If you're unsure of how to choose, search for the name of prospective funeral homes online. Read both the funeral home website, as well as independent reviews. 


Websites such as Yelp and Google Reviews allow past customers to post testimonials of their experiences with listed businesses. Remember to take these reviews with a grain of salt: disgruntled customers are more likely to post a review than those who had a good experience. 


However, if many reviews have similar negative points to make about the funeral home's business practices, service, prices or services, it's a good indicator that there are better facilities to choose. 


3. Ask for recommendations


When in doubt, ask those around you for advice. Folks who've recently planned a funeral in the area might have a good perspective on which local homes are reputable. 


Depending on the circumstances of the death, health care providers may be able to provide a directory of funeral homes available for the services you require. Hospice workers are a good resource for all death-related questions. 


If there are religious or cultural considerations, ask that community for advice. For example, the deceased person's priest or rabbi may have recommendations for treatment of the body and correct ways to pay respect.


4. Interview the funeral director


If there is time, as in the case of a terminal illness, try to meet with prospective funeral directors. Discuss the vision for the service, and ask about what techniques they perform for burial, cremation or embalming. 


Interviewing a prospective funeral director will allow you to a get a feel for their style and ability. (Shutterstock)


Some funeral homes have an on-site crematorium or graveyard. Depending on the services required, it is prudent to select a funeral home with the facilities needed to accommodate your loved one's care without too much unnecessary travel.


5. Consult a map


Unless you loved one passed away while traveling, or expressed a desire to be buried away from their hometown, you will want to choose a funeral home that is local to their residence. There should be no need for funeral guests to travel far out of town to attend the memorial service. 


Use Google maps to find funeral homes in close proximity the the family home, or place of death, so that prompt transportation may be arranged. 


A final word


Choosing the right funeral home for your family, and on behalf of a recently deceased loved one, does not need to be a distressing process. Ultimately, time is of the essence. As long as you choose a reputable funeral home, with compassionate staff and a facility that can accomodate the memorial vision, the service will be a meaningful tribute to the life of your loved one.  


Will this be your first time working with a funeral director? Read our article Why It's Best to Work With a Funeral Director

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