3 factors to consider when engaging a funeral director

Engaging a funeral director can help the bereaved family to cope with grief by helping take care of the funeral arrangements. The logistical relief such as collecting of body, embalming, delivering to the wake, setting up of wake, getting the permit for burial or cremation, placing an obituary, allows the family better spend their time memorializing their loved one. Unlike weddings, most families do not have the luxury of time to choose the funeral directors carefully. It is most often based on either word-of-mouth recommendation, what-contact-comes-first, or simply company reputation. Usually once the family decide to go ahead with one funeral director, the family rarely change their choice as there isn’t the luxury of time. Cost may be important for some family but is often the least concern.

But there are three factors that are worth considering, which may not always be told to you.

1. Request for an itemized price list

Most of the funeral arrangements are structured as packages. One only needs to select based on the religion. Request for an itemized price list in person so that you can pick the specific goods and services you want and compare costs. Do not be pressurized to buy a package. The packages may include items you may not need. Extras such as expensive floral displays can easily increase the price or mask their profit margin. It is a way to get you to pay more.

2. Some ‘required’ services are not necessary

Embalming is not compulsory for all. It is only a requirement if the family of the deceased chooses to have the traditional ground burial and open casket. Embalming uses toxic chemical solvents to retard the process of body decomposition. Embalming fluids may include a combination of preservatives, germicides (disinfectants), modifying agents, dyes, and perfuming agents. Depending on the condition and size of the body, the cost ranges from about $200-$700. When the dead body has undergone autopsy or has been widespread injuries, the price for embalming is much higher than a body which is whole and uninjured. The cost of embalming sometimes does not cover the dressing, washing, cosmetically readies the body and the placing of the body to the coffin. The cost of embalming may be separate from the cost to dress, wash, do cosmetic finishes and place the body to the coffin. That may add an additional $100-$400 to the total cost.

3. Spending more does not equate to a better send off

A simple casket may be sufficient (especially if you intend to cremate), instead of spending $10,000 on a mahogany or bronze casket but also pay something less for a more environmentally-friendly casket. Families of the deceased could also opt for a more meaningful and economical memorial service, by doing away with the formal service and go for a direct burial or cremation, which involves no embalming and viewing. Families can friends can share pictures and memories for the deceased, such as hosting a wine-and-cheese memorial service in a art gallery which the deceased had volunteered for.

Lastly for those who are considering buying funeral arrangements ahead of time, it does not necessarily save money and stress. Detailing your wishes is different from buying ahead of time. Unless the contract with the funeral director can guarantee no add-ons or sales push, you may end up topping up what your love one has originally bought.

Learn more from The Timeliss Guide: Engaging a funeral director