How to Choose a Funeral Director

Choosing a funeral director is undoubtedly a daunting task. It is daunting for a range of reasons. Firstly, if there is a need for a funeral director then those seeking have had a personal loss, often emotinally upsetting. Secondly, the funeral industry, what happens in it, and the things that a funeral director does is often misunderstood. As a society we don’t spend our spare time talking about death, loss, grief and therefore funerals.

So, when a funeral is required, or is coming up in the future for a family then often families know they need a funeral director but, they don’t know the questions to ask. Many times we first speak to a family the most common question asked is, “how much is a funeral”.

Firstly, it is so important to consider that even when someobody you love has passed, there is no rush in which to make funeral arrangements and you should never feel pressured to make decisions. If someone has died at home or a nursing home, and a funeral home decision hasn’t been made, then there will be a time constraint regarding the physical care of the person who has died. That person must be held in a cold facility (funeral home) and can’t stay in the nursing home or residence indefinately. This may require an immediate decision however, should that happen and then a change of mind is made, your loved one can be then collected by a different director of your choice.

We often suggest to families we speak to to talk to as many directors as they feel comfortable to do so. By doing this, not only will you learn the broad difference in funeral costs and services, but you will have the opportunity to connect with some of the directors you speak to. Some of the questions and considerations in those calls are as follows: –

  • Are you a full service director or, are there services, features and products that you don’t deal with?
  • I would like to have as much involvemnt in the entire process myself; will you allow that?
  • I would like to have the service in the ‘xyz’ chapel, or the ‘xyz’ cemetery. Do you attend to those facilities.?
  • Will you manage the live streaming requirements?
  • Are you a family owned independent funeral home or, are you one of the coporate owned directors?
  • How long have you been in business and how many years experience do you have?
  • Are you able to manage and prepare multimedia – video, music, printed material?
  • Can you provide me a quote for your services before I make my decision?
  • Do you have recomendations on what we can do to ensure all goes smoothly?
  • Are there any additional fees, fees payable after the service, or costs that you haven’t told me about?
  • What is the funeral planning process and what would happen from here?
  • Do you manage and arrange pre-arrangements or pre-payed funerals?
  • Are there recomendations you have for greif support services?
  • What is you response and availibilty like? If we chose you, when could we expect the funeral to be?
  • Do you offer low cost, direct or unattended cremation or burial?
  • Why should I choose you?

The Australian funeral market is monopolised by two giant, publicly listed, international corporations. They purchase existing funeral homes, crematoria and cemetries, and continue to trade them under their respective names giving the impression of independence. For example, White Lady, Simplicity, George Hartnett, Metropolitan are all owned by InvoCare, whereas the other large parent company is Propel currently purchasing companies throughout the country. Although economies of scale can sometimes mean savings to the consumer, in the funeral industry these funeral companies can sometimes be some of the most expensive companies to use because of the massive overheads associated with corporate ownership and structure, although some have budget options.

Additionally, there are many directors that are not fully developed as companies and therefore sub-contract other companies for their services (transporation and mortauray services for example) as well as IT structured companies using clever and sophistacted digital strategies to create a market.

This isn’t to say that all corporate owned directors, or all limited service directors won’t have the ability to care for families well, as many do. It does highlight the importance of talking to directors and questioning them, listening to how they plan to care for you, your family and the person who has passed, who owns them, what they will charge and what they will do. Take the time you need to to ensure your decision is a decision you are totally comfortable with. There should never be any pressure, for any reason, by anyone engaged to care for a family in loss.

If at any time you would like to discuss funerals, funeral arrangements or choosing a director, please call 07 3261 8222 and we would by honoured to assist.

Robin D

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