The role of a funeral director is to provide compassionate assistance to families as they plan the funeral of a loved one. In practice, this means funeral directors take on a wide range of logistical, administrative and supportive responsibilities, from helping to decorate before the funeral service to filling out legal forms on behalf of the family.
A good funeral director will help to ease the burden of planning the ceremony and lend a guiding hand to bereaved families so that they are able to give a fitting farewell to their loved one.
Funeral directors do not only work with recently bereaved families. They also offer assistance to people who would like to ensure their last wishes are carried out, as well as pre-paid funeral plans and plans to help spread the cost of a funeral.
Now more than ever, funeral services and last rites can be tailored to reflect the life and personal beliefs of the person who died. If you know that you would like your funeral to take place in a particular way or at a certain location, you can ensure that your wishes are honoured by discussing them with a funeral director.
Whether you want your remains laid to rest in a woodland burial ground, cremated locally or repatriated to the country of your birth, a funeral director can advise on the feasibility of your wishes and help you and your family to plan for the cost.
Many funeral directors offer pre-paid funeral plans, which allow a person to protect their loved ones from unexpected costs by paying a lump sum or monthly instalments towards a funeral plan.
With the average cost of a funeral in the UK now almost £3500, funeral plans can offer peace of mind by ensuring that the holder’s wishes are met and that their family is not left struggling to pay for their funeral ceremony.
Before the Funeral
Funeral directors play an important role in the days before a funeral. As well as taking care of logistics, the funeral director uses this time to listen to the family’s requests and to provide compassionate support in realizing their needs.
For many people, the first time they are ever faced with planning a funeral is in the aftermath after losing someone very close to them. Having a sympathetic and competent professional by their side allows the family of the deceased to focus on their emotional needs, and leave the minutiae of organizing the ceremony to the funeral director.
In the days before the ceremony, funeral directors are responsible for:
Collection and Transportation of the Deceased
The funeral director will arrange transport to carry the body of the deceased from the hospital or place they died to a place of rest. This is commonly the funeral parlour, although it is possible to take the body to the family home if requested.
Preparation of the Body for the Funeral or Viewing
A funeral director is responsible for preparing the body and arranging time in a chapel of rest if family or friends would like to spend time with their loved one before the funeral ceremony. This may involve cleaning and dressing the body or setting the facial features.
There are certain forms which must be completed for a cremation to take place, and also for burial if a coroner has been involved at any stage. A funeral director will fill put care of any necessary paperwork and return it to the relevant authorities.
Booking the Ceremony and Wake
After consulting with the family about their wishes, the funeral director will book a time for the funeral to take place at the chosen location. They may also speak to the clergy or officiant to convey any requests the family has for the service, such as specific music or readings if the family is not comfortable doing this themselves.
If there is to be a-wake, the funeral director may also help booking a venue for this, as well as transport and catering for the mourners if required.
Providing a Coffin
Most funeral directors offer a wide range of coffins and will guide the family to find a coffin which best suits the funeral ceremony and budget.
Placing a Notice in the Newspaper
If requested, a funeral director also lists the details of the ceremony and any requests for donations in local or national newspapers for anybody wishing to pay their respects.
The Funeral Service
On the day of the funeral service itself, the funeral director plays a central role in ensuring that things run smoothly. They will have already worked with the family to personalise the service, and can be expected to help with the following parts of the service:
A funeral director arrives before the start of the service to help decorate and distribute orders of service if required.
Transport of the Deceased and Mourners
A hearse of the family’s choosing transports the body of the deceased from the place of rest to the location where the service is to be held. If there is to be a wake afterwards, a funeral director may also take care of transport for the mourners to this venue.
Managing Floral Tributes and Donations
Many people choose to donate flowers at a funeral, as a sign of condolence and respect. A funeral director may provide flower arrangements for the ceremony or manage people’s floral donations. If this is the case, the funeral director may also ensure that the flowers are transported to the funeral parlour or other location requested by the family at the end of the service.
If there are monetary donations collected at the funeral service, a funeral director may offer to take care of these and hold them in safekeeping until the family is able to come and collect them.
After the Funeral
Funeral arrangements do not end immediately after the service is over. A funeral director may still be of assistance in the days after the funeral when they can help with:
Transfer of the Remains
If the deceased was cremated, their remains are placed in an urn which is returned to the family. If the family does not wish to return to the crematorium themselves, the funeral director may collect the urn and return the remains of the deceased to the family instead.
Listing an Obituary
A funeral director may work with friends and relatives to write an obituary or simply to help them list their own words in local or national newspapers.
If the remains of the deceased are to be returned to their country of birth, a funeral director can help the family to facilitate this after any memorial service or funeral in the UK.
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