Your relationship with the funeral director is important. Their role is to help you to arrange the funeral of your choice. The way the funeral director approaches this can make a huge difference to your experience.
At first, many people feel like Michele:
I knew what I did not want, but did not really have any idea about how to get what we did want.
Decide as far as you can the style (see our personal styles page here>) of funeral you want, what it is you want the funeral director to do and the desired level of involvement of family and friends. You can help to wash and dress the body, bear the coffin, design and conduct the funeral ceremony and other things if you wish. Quality of service is as important as price and far more difficult to judge in advance of using the services, but a discussion or visit without obligation can help you decide.
Recommendations from other people are helpful, but find out what sort of
funeral they arranged. A good funeral director for a traditional funeral in a church may not be the right one if the family want to actively participate in the arrangements. For example, you may want an alternative venue or to use a woodland burial site, or even bring the body home for a vigil the night before the funeral ceremony. Gauge how helpful, flexible and open to your ideas the funeral directors are.
Ask about pricing, their fees, the cost of coffins, cars, an estimate of the total cost of the type of funeral you require, and ask for the quote in writing. Their attitude to your cost survey will provide you with information, for example whether they are prepared to quote for exactly what you want rather than give you a price for a package.
If you and others are likely to want to view the body, see if they have a
pleasant and spacious chapel of rest in which you could spend some time, and make sure their visiting hours are sufficiently flexible. Remember that if the person who has died is with the duty funeral director or if they died at home and you telephoned a funeral director in a panic, you can still
change to one of your choosing. It is important to make a positive choice.
There is no need to feel uneasy about this. Such a decision is within your rights, details of which are published in the National Association of Funeral Directors’ code of conduct.
Increasingly funeral directors are owned by big corporations, but still trade
largely under the old family name. They tend to be less flexible in what they can provide and more expensive. Ask a funeral director whether they are an independent family firm or part of a group (the biggest groups are Co-operative Funeralcare and Dignity).
The Good Funeral Guide (www.goodfuneralguide.co.uk) and The Natural Death Centre (www.naturaldeath.org.uk) both publish lists and details of recommended funeral directors on their websites and in their handbooks.