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What is the Role of a Funeral Home?

Jan 26, 2016 09:41AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Spencer Larkin

Very few people know what to expect from their funeral home until the day they have to make some difficult decisions and deal with seemingly mundane details during a time of duress. These distraction postpone a healthy grieving process, one that begins the moment arrangements for the service begin. Choosing the right funeral home can make all the difference.

First: the logistics. Behind the scenes, the funeral home arranges for the removal of the body, obtains all the required legal documents, prepares the loved one for viewing, helps plan the service, arranges for the final disposition, provides facilities for the visitation and funeral service and the transportation to the final resting place. An experienced funeral home is essential in getting all these details right---in the sense that they make the funeral appropriate to the family’s wishes and not just offer cookie-cutter solutions.

Experience goes a long way. An idea that sounds good at the time, may not turn out the way you plan. Having a funeral director with a lot of experience you can trust to guide you is essential. Especially if you are doing a cremation with a service, mixed religion services, coordinating mixed families, or having the service outside the funeral home at say a farm, or ski resort, in the National Forest, at a private estate or repatriated in a different country. A savvy funeral home will be sensitive to the story you are trying to create and make sure all the necessary laws are met and all feelings are respected. There are other considerations, too; like special services for children, vets, public servants and religious leaders. A good funeral home will have experience in all these areas and have helpful suggestions.

Lastly, you have to like and trust them. Emotions will be a little raw during this time. Hugs will come often and honest feelings shared easily. It’s important to have a friend and confidant in the funeral director; one you should feel confident hugging when the day is over, the service was perfect and friends have all gone home. Believe me when I tell you, funeral directors are moved by the tributes and shared feelings of every funeral they manage. It’s OK to give them a thanks and an embrace. They probably need it too. 

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