When I’m on an airplane and the passenger seated next to me finds out I am a funeral director, the rest of the flight is usually occupied by me answering question after question about what we do and why we do it. “Is it a state law? Why do you embalm immediately? How did you get into the business? How long does it take to cremate a body?”—and on and on and on. Do I mind? Not at all. I enjoy educating the consumer. Unlike the old days, I don’t consider anything about this business to be “taboo.” My doors are always open for a guided tour of my funeral home and crematory. You can get online and see it now.
The fact is you have choices. Choices that will fit your budget and beliefs. Choices you have now because of your demands for us, the funeral directors, to change.
With that in mind, here are my basic tips people should keep in mind when planning a funeral. There are many different situations, and many different circumstances, but here are seven tips that apply to everyone.
The important thing is to ask questions, plan ahead when you can when you can think clearly and do not be afraid to speak up.
- Never feel pressured. If you are not comfortable with a certain funeral director, express it or ask to work with someone else.
- Think about a budget, tell the funeral director what it is, and have him or her help you stay within that budget.
- The only “non-declinable” option is “Professional Services of Funeral Director and Staff”. Everything else, from automobiles to facilities, is declinable.
- Caskets: You can cut the cost of the casket in half if you request to see more choices. There are identical caskets make of different materials, which look exactly the same.
- Vaults: Focus on the 3 least expensive. You will get what you need (or required by the cemetery) with any of these.
- Out of town death: Call your funeral director back home. DO NOT call a funeral home in the current location. Your funeral director back home will sub-contract the necessary help needed to get the deceased home, and you will save $1500 – $2000.
- Other tasks, like dealing with the VA and Social Security, should be handled by the funeral director. If assistance is needed in filing insurance claims, that is part of the funeral director’s job also; don’t be afraid to ask for help – and there should be no additional charges.
And of course, contact me when you are confused or need help.