What to Know Before You Go: Secrets of the Funeral Service Industry

funeral home guidelinesSo, they may not be secrets kept under lock and key, but there are certain things that your funeral director will probably not go out of their way to tell you. As always, we want you to be a well-informed consumer, even when you have to do the unthinkable and make decisions at a funeral home after the loss of a loved one.


You don’t have to buy a casket for the viewing.

While your loved one does have to be in a casket, if you have opted for cremation, you have the option of renting a casket in most states. There are also less expensive caskets that can be purchased that are designed for a viewing where the deceased will be cremated afterward. These caskets don’t have the handles, seals or locks on them like traditional caskets. And, contrary to what your funeral director might tell you, you don’t have to buy your casket from the funeral home at all. You can shop around online or other avenues to find the casket you prefer and have it delivered to your funeral home.


Don’t get reeled in by “traditional” options.

While many funeral homes wouldn’t dream of playing your heartstring, there are the few that will try and manipulate you using emotions and subtle word choices. Because of that, it’s best to be vigilant in any situation. Some funeral directors know that the word traditional is a word that can prompt someone looking to give their loved one a traditional funeral to opt in to more add-ons for the service.


You do not need to have the body embalmed.

If you’ve opted for cremation of a direct burial, there is no law that states you must have the body embalmed first. Of course, many funeral homes do have a policy that if there is a viewing, embalming must be used to prevent decay and make the body look as healthy as possible during the viewing. But you do not need to have a viewing, no matter what the funeral director recommends. Many families are opting to have the memorial service with a slideshow or large picture of the deceased in place of the body.


Preneed funeral planning doesn’t always cover everything.

There are charges that can arise after a person’s death that were unforeseen at the time that they were buying their funeral plan. If you are planning your own funeral and prepaying, it’s best to create a “Pay on Death” bank account to hold extra money to cover any of these unforeseen costs.


Not all crematories are regularly inspected.

Without inspection or regulation, anything goes and it has resulted in some awful scandals in the industry. When you are working with the funeral home, ask which crematory they use and if the building is regularly inspected to ensure that proper protocol is being followed. Some funeral homes will allow you to view the cremation, for a fee, if it makes you feel more comfortable.


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