The thought of a death in the family strikes fear into the hearts of almost everyone. Choosing a funeral home is not like choosing a car insurance company. Without the knowledge and experience to know what comes next when a family member dies, you need someone to assist with next steps. You and your family need help with the trauma and grief of losing someone you love.
There are essential questions to keep in mind as you choose a funeral home. The answers to your questions will help you feel more prepared for the future, whatever comes.
Do I Feel Good About the Staff?
First off, it is vital to know that you can call around and speak directly with funeral directors. The staff at funeral homes expect this. You can also make appointments to visit in person.
Any funeral home that cares for the emotional wellbeing of family members in a time of grief understands that meeting with families is part of their job. After you talk with them, think about how they made you feel.
Did you feel:
- Welcomed and appreciated for calling or coming by to visit?
- Respected as you interacted with the staff?
- Like they wanted you to know that your questions were valid?
- Their warmth and genuine gladness to spend time with you?
Don’t ignore your gut instinct. If you feel respected and appreciated, the funeral home may be the kind of home that can help when you need the kindness of others the most.
The best of funeral directors consider what they do a “calling” in life. During times of loss, their kindness helps families cope with the uncertainty of what has happened. Their caring nature helps a family move forward. Don’t underestimate the truly life-changing experience of choosing a funeral director whose life’s passion is helping others cope with loss.
Have You Been in Business Long?
You want a funeral home that feels like extended family. These are the people whose kindness and caring nature will lead you and your family through some of the most challenging situations you will ever face in life.
A local family-run funeral home is almost always a good choice. In these funeral homes, parents pass down a family tradition of caring for others in the depths of their grief. Children of the family are born into learning how to comfort others. They also learn from a young age how the practical processes surrounding a death work. In addition, a family-run home understands the importance of close family ties and the traditions passed from one generation to the next.
Do You Outsource Any Services On Your Price List?
Many funeral homes offer everything you need in-house. If there are services that you need not provided by the funeral home personally, ask:
- Who they outsource the service to
- How much extra you will pay
- Why they outsource the service
Do You Offer All-Inclusive Funeral Packages?
You may know precisely what you need, or you may want help making choices. Looking at funeral packages can give you an idea of the overall basic costs. You can look at the packaging to see how their pricing works. Then, you can ask questions based on the packages you see.
For example, suppose they present a package with these features for $7,800:
- Burial with Viewing & Funeral (Same Day)
- Professional Services
- Transfer of Deceased to the Funeral Home
- Care and Preparation (with embalming)
- Visitation and Funeral (same day)
- Basic 20ga Metal Casket
- Graveside Service
You could use this list of services as a starting point about what to expect or who will perform each service. You could ask these questions to get a better understanding:
- Who performs the speaking at the graveside service?
- Do you play music during the burial?
- Is an outer burial container (a graveliner or a vault) at a cemetery included?
- What about a headstone? Where would I choose one?
- Who should I ask to eulogize?
- Do you write the obituary, or do I?
- Who plans the order of service?
- If I send you an email with digital pictures or video attached, can you show this during the viewing or funeral?
- What do I need to do during the process?
- What do my loved ones need to do?
- Define “professional services.” What do they include?
- What additional expenses should I expect?
Going over the funeral home’s website or any brochures they give you should yield some questions. Use their information to find out more before choosing a funeral home. Staff who are patient with your need for more details demonstrate the kind of people you need on your side in a time of loss.
Can You Accommodate My Beliefs and Traditions?
We all grow up in different traditions and develop our own beliefs and ideas about life and death, cultural expectations, and how to cope with loss. A funeral home that does not respect you and your beliefs cannot be a good fit for you or your family.
Look for a funeral home that embraces your beliefs and strives to accommodate you in every way possible.
- Suppose you don’t like the idea of embalming because of your environmental beliefs. Your funeral home should be understanding and capable of meeting your needs for a green casket or no casket or for cremation. An impressive funeral home will even help you find a cemetery that works with green burials.
- Whether your religious tradition is Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other belief system, your funeral home needs to understand where you’re coming from regarding your religious traditions and offer the required services.
- If you have LGBTQ+ individuals in your family, it is crucial that they feel respected and appreciated for who they are by the funeral home staff.
- Cultural traditions are also part of who you are. Perhaps your family is a traditional Greek or Italian family. Maybe most of your loved ones are loud and passionate and cry easily and publicly. Or you could come from a refined culture where tears are not appreciated, and feelings are kept quiet around others. Either way, you should feel comfortable being who you are around the funeral home staff.
Your funeral home needs to appreciate and accept your loved ones for who they are, regardless of culture, religion, LGBTQ+ status, socio-economic level, or other factors. A funeral home’s job is to make you and your loved ones feel safe and comfortable so that you can grieve in peace. They take care of the details that are too difficult for you and your family to face.
How Can I Pay For This?
Hopefully, if you ask this question, a funeral director will let you know of the available options. Some options for paying for a funeral include:
- A Funeral Trust: Set aside funds in advance of a funeral. This type of trust is an agreement between you and North Carolina in which you put money away for a future funeral that pays out when the individual dies.
- Payable-on-Death (POD) Account. A bank account with a named beneficiary who immediately receives the funds upon death. Often, assets named in a will must go through a probate process that makes the funds unavailable for the funeral. A POD account gives immediate access.
- Savings Account: shared with a joint owner with right of survivorship
- Veterans Benefits: these benefits often cover the entire cost of a burial in a veteran’s cemetery.
- Low-Cost Options: Funeral directors should also have low-cost options available if you are genuinely in need.
- Prepay: This is a way to go ahead and plan a funeral and pay before the individual dies. Planning ahead can indeed be a gift to your family. When you prepare, they don’t face the difficult decisions and wonder if you would be pleased.
- Final expense insurance: These are insurance policies for set amounts that payout immediately when an individual dies.
When Are You Available?
None of us know what the future holds, whether we will need help at 2 AM or 2PM. A funeral home whose passion is caring for those facing indescribable loss will be available when you need them. Office hours are lovely for day-to-day business. However, as a funeral home, they must be available for emergencies also. Make sure that any funeral home you choose will be there for you when you need them most.
We Can Help
At Renaissance Funeral Home, our 4th generation funeral home has been a family-owned and operated business since the 1930s. Caring for our neighbors in times of need is what we do and why we have a passion for delivering a high level of respect for every family tradition we encounter.
We strive to welcome each person who comes through our doors with respect for all cultures, religions, statuses, or personal beliefs. We are all human and we all suffer loss. Let our family care for yours when you need it the most.