There is nothing more confirming about death than when someone turns up to help you organise the funeral properly…It’s incredible that after 30 mins to an hour, all the parts discussed can be joined together to form an actual funeral service.

What are those parts? What information do you need and is there anything you should prepare for?

There isn’t a more Gentlemanly figure at your doorstep when a family member dies than that of a funeral director. Yes we can add in Vicar, Celebrant and 93 year old Joe next door who doffs his Trilby when you pass. The presence of a funeral representative is one of deference however.

I haven’t experienced many visits from a funeral director, mostly due to Mum dealing with her Parents. I have to admit that while I should definitely have not viewed my mother at all, not even just on my own at the hospital, it was thanks to the funeral director that everything else went swimmingly.

I quite honestly do not know how people would enact a DIY funeral where they order a headstone, arrange for a burial plot, sort the paperwork with local council and organise transport, flowers and everything else on top. Without the guidance of a professional I’d have been lost.

Here is a short list of 3 things you can expect with a visit from a funeral director

  1. Emotions: They can run high for several years but in the week after you will be knocked for six. You may find it difficult to concentrate, to imagine what is best. A funeral director is trained to help gain information and attributes from the bereaved and to make this process much easier. Not all has to be achieved at once, there can be pauses in the meeting or rest saved for the next day.
  2. Information: I was asked a string of questions about my Mother and despite her being Mum for some considerable time I was unable to help with all of them. Was it because I was a Son rather than a Daughter? The funeral director has a questionnaire which he carefully reflects upon. It doesn’t hurt to have an Aunty or Uncle present or at least on speed dial. The information gleamed becomes useful for several purposes.
  3. The Service: In the UK we are privileged to be classed as Church of England without having to be religious to a fault. Everyone has been watching Songs Of Praise for decades and The Last Night Of The Proms keeps us in good spirits. When asked which hymns, prayers and readings you wish to have at the funeral a director or celebrant will be very explanatory on their meanings.

In fact, the info aspect which helps build a picture of the deceased’s character may have already provided a few important details. This then combines with the formation of a eulogy about their life and helps form death notices for local and national newspapers.

  • Functions: It can get awkward as you start weighing up finances versus glamour. A funeral director is not usually interested in selling you the top of the range woodpile with all bells and whistles, that’s entirely in your court. Opt for the eco funeral, choose silk linings or go for a basic but still memorable and deserving entourage with pall bearers, transportation and additional flowers – the choice is yours but the funeral director will be able to guide you if required.

The funeral director may ask you if you wish any keepsakes to be buried or cremated with the deceased. You may be asked for their clothes for a viewing period, asked where that viewing should be held and to contemplate pick up points from local family homes for the service. As well as deciding upon locations for crematorium, church service, graveyard or if you wish to have ashes scattered or placed in urns.

The greatest expectation you should have of a funeral director is that of respect, to be formal, to be polite. Most of the information does come from you though. At the worst of times you will need to muddle through and grasp all the details you can and turning to family members will help so don’t shy away from reaching out. Trust in the funeral director and take time to think through options, despite the time scale it need not be rushed.