Considerations for Choosing a Funeral Home

Image from inside inside a funeral home depicting a coffin with a white flower on it.

Choosing a funeral home is a major decision when a loved one passes away, especially if they didn’t leave their wishes in writing. You may feel like you’re starting from nowhere, and because it’s one of the first of many decisions you’ll have to make, it can seem overwhelming.

We’ve put together some tips and considerations for choosing a funeral home to ensure you find the best one for you and your loved ones. Read on to learn more:

Top 8 characteristics to look for in a funeral home

1. Reputation

It’s important to work with an establishment that has a good reputation for care and service. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations and check online reviews. When you find a few options, check their website for their mission statement and history and any information about their values and commitments. Make sure it aligns with what you’re looking for.

2. Caring and compassionate staff

When faced with choosing a funeral home, families are going through a very difficult time in their life, so excellent customer service, kindness, and sincerity are important. Funeral directors and their staff should treat you with professionalism and care. Give your top funeral home choices a call and have a conversation with the staff to get a feel for how they may treat their clients.

3. Communication

The funeral director and staff should be there to help you through the process (before, during, and after the funeral) and answer all of your questions. It’s important that you’re able to easily reach them and receive timely responses. They should also be willing to help you with other steps in the process, such as choosing a cemetery and designing a monument or memorial.

4. Creates a personalized experience

Every person and family are different, so your experience with the funeral home should be unique and meaningful to you and your loved one. The service should be personalized to your needs and values, honor your lost loved one, and ultimately be a meaningful and healing experience. The funeral director should be willing to listen carefully and offer helpful opinions and resources that meet your needs.

5. Location, facility, and services

The funeral home’s location should be convenient. The facility should be clean and well-kept, have space for a visitation, viewing, or reception (if you need those spaces), décor to your liking, flexible space, or other elements that you want to be part of the service. They should offer services you need such as transportation, embalming, cremation, child-friendly spaces, or others. Ask the staff about the facility and all services they provide.

6. Accommodations for specific needs

If you have certain religious or cultural needs, the funeral home should be able to accommodate those.

7. Cost

All funeral homes should be transparent about costs, including fees. Ask for an itemized list of all expenses to determine whether the funeral home is in your budget and to avoid any surprises. You may want to consider choosing a funeral home that will be willing to help you plan a service within budget.

8. Additional Resources

For example:

  • Grief counseling services for both adults and children, post funeral newsletters/education, grief support groups or materials, home visits, and other resources are some that may be important to you to be provided by the home.
  • Ask about technology advances they may have, such as website, memorial videos, social media, or webcasting services.
  • Online funeral planning services can be convenient, especially for family who may live out-of-town.
  • Education programs for the community regarding estate planning, etc. The funeral home should be an advocate of information.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Funeral Home

Mistake: Not doing your research

You may need to find a funeral home quickly, and during a time of grief, this can be overwhelming. However, don’t skip out on researching and comparing providers.

  • Look for funeral homes in your area and check out their websites.
  • Get a feel for their approach to funeral services.
  • Read client testimonials.
  • Review any pricing information.
  • Check social review sites.

You may also want to visit in person.

Mistake: Not setting a budget

It’s important to determine what you can afford before you start your search. Don’t try to make your budget fit around a funeral home. You should only spend what you can without undue hardship, so create a budget that fits that and then stick to it. Ask the funeral director to help you create a service and burial that fits within that budget.

Mistake: Deciding on a funeral home solely on cost

As mentioned above cost is important, but shouldn’t be the only consideration and factor in your decision. A funeral home should still provide all services you desire with the highest quality and care, regardless of the budget you have.

Mistake: Overlooking location considerations

Friends and family may have to make multiple trips to the funeral home throughout the process, so choose one in close proximity if possible. Traffic, long drive times, construction, and other driving frustrations can be especially difficult when you’re grieving, so avoid them if you can by choosing a local home. Guests should also be able to travel with relative ease.

Mistake: Sacrificing things that are important to you/your loved one

Not all funeral homes are the same, and not all services and people are the same. If something is important to you, your loved one, and/or your family, choose a funeral home that offers it. Don’t sacrifice something that’s important to you just to choose a home – research your options until you can find a home that fits with your needs.

Steps for choosing a funeral home

1. Decide on a budget

Paying for the funeral and services shouldn’t create hardship, but should cover the desired services including a viewing, funeral service, burial, and headstone.

2. Know your rights

The Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule states funeral homes:

  • Must provide a general price list.
  • Should inform the family they can choose the funeral services they want.
  • Must disclose whether a particular item is required by law.
  • Must not refuse to charge a fee to handle a casket bought elsewhere.
  • Must offer alternative containers (if cremation is chosen).

Know what information you’re entitled to so you aren’t faced with any surprises during the process.

3. Discuss your priorities

What is important to you and your loved ones? Location? Price? Using a funeral home you’ve used in the past? Religious or cultural requirements? Facility size? Technology? Accessibility? Have a list of the top priorities so you can choose a funeral home that meets those needs.

4. Choose the arrangement

Will it be a direct cremation or direct burial? Will there be a funeral service at the home? A natural burial? Traditional burial with embalming, visitation, funeral service? A celebration of life? Knowing this can help you choose the right home and services.  

5. Get a list and compare services/prices

Research funeral homes in the area and compare services, prices, customer service, and other factors. Call at least five and talk to the funeral director and/or staff to ask questions and get a better feel for the funeral home and services. Also get quotes for specific arrangement choices.

6. Make a decision

Once you’ve done your research, choose the one you like best. Call the funeral home to begin making arrangements.

If you have any questions regarding funeral homes, we’re happy to assist. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.