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Selecting a Funeral Home

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What to Do when Someone Dies Part I

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What to Do when Someone Dies Part III

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Selecting a Funeral Home

What Does a Family need to know when Hiring a Funeral Home?

There is one main, most important, rule that families who have lost a loved one can remember when hiring a funeral home to help with their family member's memorial service. That rules is this: never forget that the funeral home works for the family, not the other way around.

Gone are the days when selecting a funeral home meant subscribing to a set of goods and services prescribed by the home itself for a “traditional” funeral. Funerals today are planned entirely by the family – with the funeral home staff being trusty consultants, ready to cater to the family's needs and wishes. Experts in the funeral industry are quick to point out that there is no longer such a thing as a “traditional” funeral.

This rule of thumb in selecting a funeral home sounds uplifting and empowering for a family. And it certainly is that. But it also brings about much responsibility that a family must take on. Since families today are in charge of explaining to a funeral home exactly what they expect in a memorial service, it's important that they know what they expect. So communication amongst family members is, probably, the most important part of following this new golden rule of hiring a funeral home.

Good planning is the best way to communicate in this case. Families should never be shy about discussing funeral plans amongst themselves well in advance off their need. All family members should be encouraged to write down their wishes for a memorial service and to talk open about them to others in the family. Armed with this written request, other family members will have little to decide for themselves as they consult with the funeral homes they may hire: they simply determine which funeral home is best suited to carry out their loved-one's wishes, and that company gets their business. Then the company itself will have a relatively easy job of carrying out the plan. The requirements are written in advance, of course. So there should be little confusion about what's called for from the funeral home.

In many cases, of course, no pre-need plan has ever been written, and, while that makes things somewhat more difficult for a family hiring a funeral home, a good decision can still be made – if main rule is remember by all.

Families hiring a funeral home should gather quickly after a death and appoint one or two leaders who will speak for the family in dealing with the funeral homes they will be approaching. Then – in the absence of a plan written by the deceased – the leaders should develop their own written plan as quickly as possible and lead the family to a consensus on accepting it. Once that done, then the plan should be presented to funeral homes competing for the family's business, and the leaders should be empowered to hire the funeral home that is best equipped to carry out the family's wishes.

Following these ideas in this article will help families assure that they get exactly what their cultural and emotional needs require from a funeral, and it will help the group avoid financial pitfalls of ordering goods and services that they do not necessarily need (but which funeral homes, being businesses operating on a profit motive, are happy to sell). Families who focus on communication as they hire a funeral home will almost always end up with a memorial service that all will agree is as fitting as can be. Once you have selected a funeral home your next task begins with what is needed for the memorial service.

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