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How to find the right funeral director for you

10 May 2022
A funeral director standing in a chapel with hands clasped, photographed from the shoulders down

Planning for a loved one’s funeral can seem like a daunting task – but the right funeral director can make the process much simpler.

We share our tips on how to find the best funeral director for you and your loved one below.

The passing of a close friend or family member can be an incredibly complex, challenging time. If you are the person making practical arrangements for their funeral or burial, the challenge is only increased.

If you have viewed our ’10 Steps to Planning a Funeral’ guide, you will know that one of the first things you will need to do is consider finding a funeral director. But how do you find the right one for you?

In this article, we’ll discuss:

What does a funeral director do?

In short, quite a bit. It is often believed that a funeral director’s role is limited to the funeral, memorial or burial service itself – but this is not usually the case.

From completing and collating official paperwork to caring for and transporting the deceased, the funeral director plays an important role in the lead-up to a funeral or memorial service. They will make sure that all regulations are observed, cultural and religious preferences are supported, and the family of the deceased know what is and isn’t possible when it comes to honouring their life.

While you don’t actually have to use a funeral director, it can be a lot easier to let somebody else look after some of the administration that comes with planning, especially if you are still trying to come to terms with what has happened Working with a funeral director can also help you get things done quickly – very helpful if time is at a premium.

Here are our tips for finding the right funeral director for you and your loved one.

1. Create a short-list of local funeral directors

It is easiest to have an idea of where the funeral or burial service will be held before contacting funeral directors. Your loved one may have already made arrangements for this, perhaps sharing their preferences using a service like MyLifebook, or similar.

Once you have this information, it can be useful to find funeral directors local to that area as a way of narrowing down your search.

Online directories like our Funeral Director Search Tool can help you create a short-list quickly by showing you Funeral Directors nearby on an interactive map. This can be easier than having to conduct multiple online searches or trawling through the yellow pages.

An image of the online Funeral Director Search tool
The Funeral Director Search Tool can help you create a short-list of funeral directors quickly.

2. Call more than one funeral director

It’s perfectly reasonable to ‘shop around’. Even if the first person you speak to sounds like they could be a good fit, we recommend calling at least one other funeral home so you can make a comparison.

Depending on your relationship to the deceased person, this may be a confronting task. Remember that it’s ok to ask for help. When somebody passes away, there are often other friends or family members looking to do whatever they can to support the deceased person’s next of kin. Calling funeral directors can be a good task to delegate.

3. Don’t forget to ask questions

It’s a great idea to bring a list of questions pre-prepared to each phone call. For example, it can be useful to know what is and isn’t included in what they offer, what services can be provided, where the deceased would stay until the service, and how they would be transported. The saying ‘there’s no such thing as a silly question’ rings true here – funeral directors expect you to come to the conversation with little to know prior knowledge of what happens. They will understand the challenges you are facing.

A funeral director in consultation with a client
There's no such thing as a silly question when speaking to a funeral director.

4. Don’t feel ‘locked in’

There may be situations where arrangements have already been made with one funeral director, but you would prefer a different funeral home to support you for the remainder of your journey. This is ok!

An example of when this might happen is if a loved one passes away while in the care of a palliative or aged care facility that has a funeral director on standby to assist. Even if one funeral home now has your loved one in its care, you can arrange to have them transported to the funeral director of your choice. It’s up to you – just make sure you are clear when you are making your request.

Funeral director discussing arrangements with an elderly couple
You don't need to feel 'locked in' to a particular funeral director.

And finally, take care of yourself. This isn’t a tip for finding a funeral director so much as a reminder to look after yourself while you do.

It’s important to prioritise your own wellbeing and know that you are not alone. This is hard, and if you feel like you are not coping, please ask for help. From the organisations listed here to our own Centre for Care & Wellbeing, there are people and resources that can support you.

Remember: you are not alone; we are here to help. We are very sorry for your loss.

SMCT’s Funeral Director Search Tool contains a complete list of all funeral directors in Victoria, and is free for our community to use. You can find funeral directors near you here.

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