funeral scene - What Are The Responsibilities Of An Independent Funeral Director?

What Are The Responsibilities Of An Independent Funeral Director?

Funeral directors are indispensable to local communities, with local funeral homes acting as important figures throughout history. They behave as a friendly hand to hold, the people who will plan the details of your loved one’s funeral, as well as the person you will go to in order to get expert advice on your local area, as well as the complex processes involved in funeral planning. 

However, if you have never lost a loved one or been tasked with planning a funeral, you may ask yourself what exactly a local funeral director does and what their key responsibilities are. It’s important for you to know what facilities they are able to offer, as well as what services they provide that you may not have thought of and that could make the process that much easier for you. Don’t forget, independent funeral directors often can provide you with things that larger corporations cannot due to their flexibility and emphasis on service to the local community.  

Immediate care

The first step in the funeral planning process, regardless of what kind of funeral you are planning on having, is the care and transportation of your loved one. Regardless of whether they pass in a hospital, a nursing home, or in their own bed, your local funeral director will come and collect the body, taking them to a temporary place of rest in preparation of the funeral.

This process is a delicate and difficult one your local funeral director should know and understand how challenging and heartbreaking this experience is for friends and family. Many local directors will sit down with you over a cup of tea, attempt to put you at ease and get to know you, as opposed to simply showing up to remove a body like a military operation. 

This care of your loved one extends to the period of time they spend in the mortuary, as well as the preparation that will take place in the build up to the funeral itself. Many local funeral directors have their own mortuaries to ensure that they are able to take full responsibility over your loved ones while they are in their care. For those who cannot build their own, the relationship between the local funeral home and the mortuary is usually extremely positive. 

Regardless of whether you are choosing to have an open casket funeral, you are able to request your local funeral director to undertake a process called embalming, wherein a body is prepared for burial. This will include cleaning and dressing them in whatever you have provided for the day, as well as ensuring any personal belongings you wish them to have during the burial are safe in the coffin. 

The paperwork

The admin side of funeral planning can be extremely confusing and overwhelming, especially if you are inexperienced or have never lost a loved one before. And while dealing with paperwork can be tedious even under regular circumstances, when you are in the beginning stages of grief, these small details can add unnecessarily to your emotional burden. 

When someone dies, registering the death is one of the first responsibilities. Unfortunately, this must be completed by the family and cannot be done by your local funeral director. What they can do, however, is guide you in the processes that they are not able to do themselves. Whether it’s through how-to guides on their website or a conversation on the phone, you will never be left without support with any admin tasks. Luckily, your local funeral director will be able to assist you with most admin tasks from here on out, including application forms relating to burial or cremation choice. 

In the leadup to the funeral itself, local funeral directors can also provide invaluable advice regarding what avenue you may wish to take if undecided about such matters. For example, they can provide you with in depth information regarding costs, offering you specific packages for either burial or cremation that may be suitable for your budget. There can often be many hidden costs that those working in the funeral industry will be far better equipped to navigate the financial aspects and offer the right guidance. Local funeral directors are often not driven by large profit margins, so you can rest assured that you are paying a fair price for whatever you choose. 

Organising the funeral

Deciding between a cremation and a burial is just the start of what, for many people, is a long list of important decisions that need to be made in a relatively short period of time. In this respect, your local funeral director’s responsibility is to make this process as easy and as stress-free as possible.  

It’s possible that your loved one left detailed wishes as to what they wanted their funeral to look and feel like, right down to the types of flowers they liked. Not only that, but they may have also left behind a sum of money in order to pay for it. In this situation, a local funeral director would simply help to guide families to the appropriate places to obtain everything that they might need such as order of service or musicians. However, for the unprepared or inexperienced, a funeral director can be a saving grace in a time when planning anything feels almost impossible, let alone during a period of grief. 

Local funeral directors can and will help guide families through the types of funeral packages they offer and create a plan that suits everyone, helping to choose certain products such as coffins and urns, stationery or floristry. They will often have relationships with local businesses who will be able to provide the best possible service or products for a reasonable price. Everything from organising transportation to handing out order of service booklets will be the responsibility of your local funeral director.

During the funeral itself, funeral directors may act as celebrants in the absence of someone else, such as a religious leader or even a member of the family. They may lead the service and invite family members up for eulogies and keep things moving. Additionally, a funeral director may hand out keepsakes or any other items that need to be distributed during or after the funeral. They will always show up before everyone else in order to ensure everything is in order and to allow loved ones the peace of mind to simply be together in a moment of remembrance. 

A helping hand 

Even with all the logistics, administration and planning that local funeral directors must juggle in order to successfully fulfil their responsibilities, their primary role is to act as a pillar of support for you and your entire family. Funeral directors are used to working with and interacting with different types of people every single day, dealing with their grief in all sorts of different ways. They are usually specially trained in order to provide an empathetic and understanding approach to each and every client.

For many people, a good funeral director is a perfect balance between a supporting helping hand that understands the gravity of what has happened, having worked in the industry for years, whilst not being a loved one and thus able to somewhat distance themselves emotionally. Grieving families sometimes may find it hard to lean on fellow loved ones during a funeral, as emotions are running high. In this sense, a funeral director also acts as a mediator to help alleviate any tension that may likely develop as families butt heads over decisions. After all, nothing brings out unpredictable emotional responses like grief. 

Without compassion, a local funeral director would never be able to aid and help families through this difficult process and help them remember their loved ones in the most positive ways possible. Ultimately, a funeral director can be as hands-on or hand-off as you’d like, but they are always there for you should you need them, before, during, and sometimes even after the funeral. Emotionally or logistically, a local director is someone you can rely on. 


We are a family-led business offering funeral services in Essex since 1958.

Please contact us at any of our four funeral homes, Harold HillHainaultHarold WoodCollier Row, for any queries, support or advice regarding the funeral planning process.

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