Taking steps to find a funeral home in advance is one of the best ways to save your loved ones from additional stress during their time of bereavement. Working with a caring and competent funeral director can help to keep costs low, reduce hassles, and ensure a smooth and meaningful service.
However, it’s important to be aware that there are currently no universal codes of practice in place to control the funeral business. As such, the approximately 2,500 funeral directors operating in the UK are not automatically bound to external regulations. You will therefore need to do your due diligence before selecting a funeral director in order to ensure that you and your family have a good experience. The four steps below should help you make the right decision:
1. Ask family or friends if they have any recommendations.
Often the best way to find a funeral home you can trust is through word of mouth recommendation. If someone you know has recently had a positive experience with a funeral home, that home is likely a good place to start your search. Additionally, you should check to make sure that funeral home is locally owned and that it has excellent online reviews.
2. Make sure the funeral home is a member of either NAFD or SAIF.
While funeral homes in the UK are not federally regulated, reputable funeral homes can choose to join one of two official organisations in order to verify their level of quality. These are the The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) and The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF). In order to maintain a membership with either of the aforementioned associations, a funeral home must meet certain industry specific standards.
Funeral homes that are part of either organisation typically offer compassionate service, some form of satisfaction guarantee, and a diverse range of services that are tailored to different budgets.
3. Make sure the funeral home is prepared to accommodate any religious or cultural needs you have.
Not all funeral homes are equipped to meet the needs of people of faith, nor is there any guarantee they will be familiar with your cultural customs. It’s therefore prudent to discuss any requests you have which may fall outside of standard local funeral practices.
Before you commit to a given funeral home, understand that willingness on the part of the funeral director to honour your requests is not always enough. Because a funeral is such a momentous occasion, it’s strongly advised that you find a funeral home with experience serving people of your faith or cultural background. Practice does, after all, make perfect—so you probably don’t want to put your loved one’s memorial in the hands of a well-intentioned but uniformed funeral director. (If there is no alternative, make sure that you start the funeral planning process well ahead of time and work out all of the relevant details. If the funeral director of your choice is willing to conduct a funeral ‘rehearsal,’ that’s even better.)
4. Make sure the quote you get from the funeral home is a complete one.
Always be wary of ‘too good to be true’ price quotes. Remember that the average funeral in the UK costs at least £1,600-£1,800; any quote you receive that undercuts this figure by a wide margin is likely to be incomplete.
Research the various services you will need to purchase to complete your chosen funeral style beforehand. This will permit you to easily ascertain the completeness of any given quote A typical funeral quote should include the cost of body preparation, the cost of the service itself, hearse rental, burial or cremation fees, and the casket or burial container. If you desire ‘extras’ like catering, cut flowers, or additional memorial services (e.g., the presence of a priest or minister), you may need to renegotiate for a more inclusive quote. If you feel you will have difficulty affording the sum quoted (but it is in line with fair market prices) ask the funeral director about the possibility of acquiring funeral insurance. This will help you cover the cost.
Remember, too, that every funeral director is required by law to produce no-obligation, no-cost price lists on request. If a funeral director is not upfront with you about pricing, cease working with him or her immediately.
DIY Funerals: The Alternative To Funeral Homes
If you cannot locate a satisfactory funeral home in your area, don’t despair or settle for poor service. The best place to find a funeral home might be your own back yard: Today, many people are choosing to host memorials in their own homes with the aid of friends and family. Under UK law, at-home funerals are permitted as long as you follow all of the associated guidelines.