How do I find a funeral home if my family hasn’t planned ahead?

While planning a funeral in advance can take the burden of planning off the table, it doesn’t always happen nor does it always make sense to do, and sadly, all too often, family members can pass away suddenly. 

If you’re looking to do a burial, consider this significant factor:

Location. Location is crucial as space constraints and price increases have become increasingly the norm. Consider where your loved one wanted to be buried or if they didn’t leave any indication of this, then consider where you would like to bury them. Is the cemetery you’re considering connected to a funeral home? If it is, they will likely expect or require you to use their associated funeral home. This isn’t always the case, so if you don’t want to use them, you should check with them to make sure they will allow the body to be prepared elsewhere. 

If you’re not yet sure where you want your loved one to be buried, you’ll still need to work with a funeral home to have their body prepared for burial. You should consider carefully where you may want them buried since you will need to factor in transportation if they pass somewhere other than where you are thinking you would like them buried. Most commonly, you will use a funeral home where your loved one passed and they will be able to transfer the body, post preparation, to the cemetery of your choosing. 

In terms of selecting a funeral home, the following steps may be helpful for you keep in mind: 

  1. Ask friends and family. 
  2. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) has produced the website rememberingalife.com, which has a Find a Funeral Home section comprised of NFDA members/funeral homes. While this website doesn’t have reviews, it’s a good starting point. 
  3. Google the funeral homes you find in your area online, or start a clean search on Google Maps or Yelp. There are known to be illegitimate reviews of these websites, but you can hopefully trust that most reviews are genuine. Pay attention to the text of what people say and not just the star counts. 
  4. You can always call a funeral home and ask for a price list. They legally must provide you with pricing and you should insist you want it by email or phone if you don’t want to go through the hassle of meeting with a funeral director in person just to get a price quote for the sake of price comparisons. This will save you a lot of time.  

For cremation, you can go through a funeral home or look at more affordable options that originate online. While there are online first ‘funeral homes’ that just offer cremation like Tulip Cremation (CA, CO, FL, WA), Best Cremation (CA), or A Cremation (TX), many funeral homes offer affordable, direct cremation packages online. Most of these packages range from $500 to $1,500, but vary by market. A direct cremation package means there will be no service or viewing, the provider will pick up your loved one, cremate them, and you will pick up the ashes at their location or they will mail your loved one’s ashes back to you via the U.S. Postal Service. It can be a great option to save a lot of money, and if you’re planning to cremate, why not consider spending around $1,000 vs. the $6,000 that many funeral homes charge for a cremation and viewing? 

Comparing prices and services for burials or cremation can be time consuming and difficult , especially if you’re short on time, so it’s best to consider these options we’ve outlined while your loved one is still alive. It can save you and your family a great deal of stress and potentially save you some money. 

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