How to choose a funeral director

Poppy's funeral director Natalie Charles outside Poppy's Sheen with black hearse

Four minute read

No one wants to have to choose a funeral director. So, when you are grieving, it’s tempting to go for the quickest and easiest option.

However, it’s worth taking a breath, looking around and asking some questions, to find the right funeral director for you.

Here are a few things that we think are important when choosing a funeral director.

Care

For us, this is the top factor to consider.

How will the funeral director care for your person? Are they transparent about where they will be cared for? Are you able to look round or see pictures if you would like? Do you know who will be looking after your person? Can you meet them?

At Poppy’s, we hold mortuary open days because we are so proud of this beautiful, light-filled former chapel, right next to our HQ in Lambeth cemetery. We welcome clients in to see the space or to visit their person if they would like. Our new video also shows what it’s like inside and introduces some of our team.

Choice

Will your funeral director listen to you and offer you genuine choices?

Not simply choices about venues, coffins or flowers, crucial as these are, but also choices about less tangible things, such as how you like to be communicated with or what information you need before deciding whether to visit your person.

Rather than telling you what to do, we believe that a good funeral director should start by asking you what you want and need. They will also be transparent about why certain choices might not be possible and offer thoughtful alternatives.

Recommendation

Word-of-mouth recommendation is the most valuable. We know that most people find Poppy’s though someone they know. So, ask friends, family and people you trust if there is a funeral directors who they would recommend and why.

You might also remember particularly good – or bad! – funerals that you’ve attended in the past. Try to find out which funeral director has organised these.

Online reviews on Google or Facebook will help you get to know the values that underpin a particular funeral director.

Don’t just look for the five stars or the overall number of reviews — although these are important — but also check whether the same things matter to the reviewer as they do to you.

Read their story and see if their values chime with yours. For example, if environmental choices or quality of care are particularly important for you, look for mentions of these areas in the reviews.

The Good Funeral Guide is also worth checking out for its comprehensive and information-packed reviews of funeral directors.

Cost

By law, all funeral directors must publish a standardised price list which shows how much different services cost so that you can compare between them.

Some offer set packages, which may include a certain coffin, flowers or type of hearse. Others, like Poppy’s, charge a flat, professional service fee and then enable you to make personal choices, which means you only pay for exactly what you want.

Be wary of anyone who implies that you need to spend a lot of money to show how much you care about the person who died. Some of the most meaningful funerals we’ve seen have included low-cost personal touches, like home-grown flowers, family members as bearers or a simple hand-decorated cardboard coffin.

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Location

Many people don’t realise that you don’t have to choose your nearest, high street funeral directors!

For some people, location is an important factor, but if you want to instruct a funeral director from further afield, that’s your choice. Just make sure to check that they cover your area, and if there are any extra charges for funerals or collections based on distance.

Visits

Will your funeral director make you feel comfortable and prepared to visit your person, whether or not they have been embalmed, if you would like?

Not everyone wants to visit, but if this is important to you, then make sure you find out what to expect.

At Poppy’s, you’re welcome to join us in washing, dressing or preparing your person for their funeral, and families can use our space for religious rituals too. We can also bring someone home before the funeral or support you to care for them at home.

Timing and availability

You may have particular reasons for wanting a quick funeral or for waiting a little while. It could be that you have family members travelling from a long distance or you want the funeral date to coincide with a specific anniversary.

If so, it’s important to check on the availability of the funeral director for your chosen dates. Most funerals take several weeks to arrange, which includes completing legal paperwork and booking venues, so you may need to be flexible too.

Gut feelings

You need to be able to trust your funeral directors to support you to arrange the funeral that you want. It’s an important relationship, even if a comparatively short one, so you need to feel comfortable!

Talk to them, look on their website or pop in and see them, ask all the questions that you need to. Most importantly, listen to yourself and what feels right.

And finally... you can change your mind!

If you are not happy with the funeral director you have chosen, you can change your mind, even they have already taken your person into their care. You are the client, so you should never feel pressured into a choice that you are not happy with.

Our Guide to Great Death Care contains more ideas and questions to ask a funeral director. You can download it for free here.

To stay in touch with all the latest news and updates from Poppy's by email, sign up here or contact us if you need help planning a funeral.

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