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Choosing a funeral home. A how-to guide

Whether you’ve just lost a loved one or are considering making your own funeral arrangements to save your family the effort, you will need to decide upon a funeral home to assist. To do so, you need to understand the basics of choosing the right funeral home for you and your loved ones. Deciding on the best environment allows your friends and family the opportunity to properly bid you farewell.

Here is a step-by-step guide to assist you in choosing a funeral home. By following these guidelines you can ensure the best possible outcomes, whether you’re planning your own funeral ahead of time, or that of a loved one.

If you are planning a funeral in advance, be sure to inform your relevant loved ones about your decisions and preferences. Put your wishes in writing and give copies to perhaps, friends, loved ones, or even a lawyer. Don’t rely on putting them in your will. Estates can take ages to be settled in which cases your wishes may become obsolete.

  • Decide upon a budget. As with so many aspects in life, make a conscious decision as to how much you are prepared, and able, to spend. If you’re the one that’s passed, you wouldn’t want to saddle your loved ones with a financial burden they cannot afford. Rather consult your family and decide on an affordable budget.
  • What are your priorities? Everyone is different, with unique circumstances, and everyone places greater emphasis on different things. Ask yourself the questions that will define your priorities. Do you want to be cremated or buried? Is a place of worship important to you? Do you need a convenient location?
  • What about travel? Will mourners have to travel from afar to pay their final respects? If so, how will they get to your chosen resting ground? Will you have to pay for their travel? These are the practical steps you would need to consider.
Also consider the following before choosing a funeral home:
  • An ideal funeral home will possess a good reputation. Read online reviews, listen to other people’s stories, and ask around. Is it clean and well-kept? You can determine this, as well as see whether the funeral home has the ability to meet your needs by visiting the funeral home prior to any final decisions being made. This is an essential step!
  • A respectful funeral home employs staff that care. The staff will have empathy and understand, or even pre-empt your needs. They should be highly professional – and you can gauge this from the moment you contact them.
  • Do they offer grief therapy? It’s no surprise that losing a loved one leaves a void in our lives. A good funeral home will offer comprehensive grief counselling to those that need it.
  • A good funeral home will always go the extra mile to ensure the needs and wishes of the deceased and loved ones are met. It’s their job to make the ceremony as unique as the person that’s being honoured. Did the deceased want to be buried or cremated? Did they want doves to be released at the service? Did they want their remains to be donated to science? Or perhaps you, or they, prefer a traditional burial with embalming, visitation, and an elaborate funeral service.
  • Does your funeral home accommodate your religious or cultural needs? South Africa is a mixture of many religions and cultures. Make sure that the funeral home has the knowledge and capability to provide a tailored way to bid farewell, while at the same time, respecting the beliefs of the departed.
  • Visit several funeral homes and get quotes. This will allow you to compare prices, professionalism, and give you the required information to make an informed decision. It will also help to bring a friend along, someone who is less emotionally invested, as they can give you an objective view. Here you would also want to view the choices of urns or caskets the funeral home has to offer.
Now decide which funeral home to choose

Once you have evaluated all the information, you’ll be able to select the funeral home that best suits your needs, from empathy and price to religious considerations. Call the funeral home to get the arrangements started. You may have to complete the funeral home’s pre-need planning form and pay a deposit where necessary.

If you have chosen to prepare for your own funeral, don’t pay in advance. Things change. Rather set aside the amount you are prepared to pay, which can be released upon your death and for the specific purpose of paying for your funeral.

Choosing the right funeral home takes careful thought and planning, and it’s best not to rush into anything. Careful planning goes a long way and will be worth your while. You won’t regret it.

AVBOB. We’re here for you.

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