How do I choose a Funeral Home?

To some extent, the public does not always understand or appreciate the many tasks associated with arranging for the final disposition of human remains and coordinating a meaningful ceremony for the deceased. A funeral director can complete numerous tasks that can occupy up to 80 hours. The services and human resources of a funeral home are continuously available 24 hours per day, answering calls that come at the ring of a telephone or the sound of a doorbell. When choosing a funeral home, there are guideposts to steer by to help you with your decision making.

  • Have you met the funeral director in your community?
  • Do you know their personal and professional reputation?
  • How long have they been serving their community?
  • What has been the experience of relatives, friends, and neighbours?
  • Is the funeral home a full-service facility and able to handle all of your needs (chapel, visitation room, reception and catering facilities, parking, licensed staff, etc.)?
  • Is the funeral home a member in good standing with the Funeral Service Association?

How to locate funeral homes and crematoriums near you?

You can use our funeral home directory to locate the funeral homes and crematoriums in your Province and select your city to view local providers. Visit DFS Memorials to find affordable local cremation service providers.

Understanding Funeral Costs: How do funeral expenses add up?

When a death occurs, the matter of funeral costs is often a consideration of the family and those making arrangements.

The majority of costs are represented by professional service, merchandise, final disposition, and indirect costs. Each complete funeral service requires approximately 80 hours. Services must conform to each individual family’s needs and their personal and religious desires.

All funeral providers are required by law to provide you with an itemized price list of the services and products they offer. They must also provide you with a copy of this price list upon request.  Some funeral providers called immediate disposition funeral providers, have limited facilities and are primarily involved in basic services such as transporting the deceased to a place for burial or cremation.

They must disclose to you that they are not allowed by law to provide full-range funeral services. Because the services they provide are limited.  Careful consideration must be made to determine that all the options you request can be accommodated. You can make inquiries in person or by telephone. Before you make a decision, however, it is a good idea to visit the funeral home to ensure that you feel comfortable with the services offered and the personnel in attendance.

Cremation service

1. Professional Service Fee:
A funeral director and staff’s professional and personal staff services typically include: Transfer from place of death, obtaining a medical certificate of death, completing government forms, registering the death, obtaining necessary permits.
Basic sanitary care of the deceased; embalming, restoration, and dressing of the deceased for viewing (if requested); and or as required (e.g. transportation by air). The funeral services contract must include a statement that embalming is not a legal requirement and, if embalming is requested, a space for the written acknowledgement of the purchaser must be on the contract. Note: Embalming may be required if being transported after 72 hours.

Complete personal supervision of all service arrangement details preceding, during, and following the services which includes: arrangement conference with family; preparation and placing of an obituary notice, consultation with clergy, cemetery and/or crematorium; arranging and caring for floral tributes.

Use of the funeral home and all necessary facilities including: arrangement office, reception areas, chapel, selection room, preparation room, parking, and services areas. Use of all specialized equipment required for either a church, chapel, or other types of service. Use of funeral coach and any other vehicles.

Transfer of deceased to crematorium and/or cemetery

2. Merchandise:

The merchandise purchased for a cremation or burial can vary greatly depending on individual preferences and needs. Funeral providers that have containers and caskets on display are required by law to display their lowest price container and casket. They are also required to have a book or brochure illustrating the entire product line of caskets for sale.

Cremation Container / Casket.
Urn for cremated remains
Stationery (memorial book, thank you cards, service folders).

3. Cemetery and/or Crematorium:
Cemetery and crematorium charges may be paid to the funeral provider or directly to the cemetery/crematorium. Regardless, authorization for disposition must still be obtained from the legal representative of the deceased.

4. Indirect Costs (or cash disbursements):
Indirect costs or cash disbursements are sums of money that the funeral provider pays out (advances) on your behalf, for such items or services such as:

Obituary notices.
Organist, soloist.
Clergy or officiant honourariums. 

Comparing funeral services and costs

Professional service fees, merchandise, and ancillary indirect expenses can vary between funeral home providers.  Therefore, it is recommended to at least compare service offerings from more than one funeral service location.

Requesting copies of the General Price List  (GPL) can enable you to compare what each funeral home is offering.  Also, do note that if a funeral home offers a funeral service package (where they have packaged together with a service fee, merchandise, and other services) you should carefully check what IS included and what may be charged additionally.

Sometimes funeral service package deals can seem inexpensive but may have hidden additional expenses.

Focus on Your needs and a funeral home you feel comfortable with

It is easy, especially in a time of grief, to not want to cope with decisions.  And to have a funeral director that you feel comfortable with, and who appears to understand what your needs are. (Rather than coercing you into services and products he or she feel you need!). It is important to feel you trust your funeral director, and if you have no prior experience with a funeral home, it can be daunting to go through this experience.

Written by

Sara has been researching & publishing content about death care in North America for some 14 years. She finds the funeral industry a fascinating sector and is passionate about helping to inform funeral consumers of the choices and alternatives available.