First off, if you are in need of services from a funeral home right now, we’d just like to start by saying we are sorry for your loss. If you’d like to go directly to a search of providers in your area, please click here.
I’ve been in the funeral industry for over 10 years, so I’ve come to understand how folks make their decisions. Before you choose a funeral home, take a look at the tips and suggestions found below, the goal is to help you get organized and understand what your options are, so you don’t wind up confused or frustrated during an already stressful time.
It’s important to note that if you call and authorize the funeral home to pick up your loved one from either the hospital or the home, you’ll be automatically obligated to pay them for that service. You have the right to change your funeral provider even after they’ve picked up your dear one, but that can be stressful and a bit complicated. Transferring to a different funeral home can even result in extra fees. So, you’re much better off taking the time in advance to decide which provider is best for you.
So, how do you choose a funeral home that’s right for you or your loved one?
It really comes down to your priorities. If you can identify those first, you’ll have a more streamlined process. Here are some things to consider:
Funeral Home Location
Location can be important when choosing a funeral home for several reasons. First, if your dear one has a burial plot or columbarium already arranged, it’s probably wise to go with a funeral provider in that immediate area.
Generally, funeral homes will travel within about 20 miles at no extra charge to pick up a person who has passed away. Beyond that, there may be additional transportation fees.
If you plan to have multiple events at the funeral home (e.g., a viewing or wake and a service the next day), you may want to consider the distance from close friends and family.
Logistics and Amenities
Depending on what you envision for the service and celebration, you may find a certain funeral home works better for you. Some things to consider include the size of your expected gathering, whether or not you want an on-site event space for a post-service reception, a particular feature such as a garden, or other features such as technology (e.g., TVs or live-streaming capabilities) and even grief therapy animals, which are available in some locations. When you call to speak to a funeral home, be sure to ask about their special features and amenities, or you can search our provider listings to get a sense of what’s out there.
How much does a funeral cost? Well, the average American funeral costs somewhere between $7,000 and $10,000, but keep in mind that like everything else, this varies with where the celebration will take place and the services and details you choose. You’ll have an easier process if you can establish an approximate budget range for the funeral you’re planning. Share that number with the funeral home right away if budget is a priority and let them know whether or not there is flexibility.
Whatever your budget, the funeral director should be willing to provide transparent pricing and create something meaningful that honors your loved one. But don’t feel pressured to break the bank. A truly great farewelling is much more about the feelings, emotions, memories and moments created in honor of a well-loved friend or family member.
Most funeral homes are very open to caring for families no matter their customs, but there are, of course, some providers who specialize in working with certain traditions and religions. If you aren’t sure, you can ask. There are plenty of wonderful humans in the farewelling (funeral) industry who are very open to requests and special needs and who will help you choose a funeral that is right for you.
Become an Educated Consumer
A little knowledge goes a long way to easing stress and making things more organized. Try these tips when choosing a funeral home:
- Search our Farewelling Provider Listings to find a few options that might work.
- Call the funeral homes that interest you; ask questions and speak frankly; share your priorities and your concerns. You’ll be surprised how helpful most funeral professionals are, because they know what you’re going through.
- Go visit. Before you choose a funeral home, you are welcome to tour the facility. Feel empowered to go in and simply tell them you’re shopping around. They’ll be happy to receive you, and you’ll get a good sense of what to expect from that conversation.
If you’d like to read more here.
Elizabeth Meyer Karansky is a licensed Funeral Director, Thanatology Fellow and Farewelling's Funeral Guru. She lives with her husband in New York City.
If you’re planning a funeral or memorial now and you’d like a lot more guidance, support, and inspiration, check out our Farewelling PlanningToolkit. It was created and curated by our team of experts and editors, with helpful tips, customizable checklists, suggested event programs, a budget tool, ideas for music and readings, and answers when you need them from our angels in customer service.