Choosing a Funeral Home

Although many people don’t think about funeral homes until they need one, the best time to choose a funeral home is when you have time to research and consider your options. Whether you’re planning ahead or have an immediate need, considering a few key factors will make it easier to find the right partner.


Coping with loss is always difficult, so it’s important to choose a funeral director you feel comfortable with. He or she will be helping you manage your grief and make important decisions. While the relationship you have with your funeral director may not last beyond your time of need, during that period you’ll want an expert by your side who you trust and like.

Four relationship factors to evaluate:

  1. Responsiveness. How quickly and thoroughly the funeral home responds to your initial inquiry may give you a sense of the type of support you would receive from them.
  2. Fit. You should feel comfortable with the funeral director and funeral home staff. If possible, visit the funeral home in person to meet with the funeral director personally.
  3. Community involvement. Many funeral homes are independent small businesses run by people who have deep ties to the local community and knowledge of local resources.
  4. Prior experience. Ask your family or friends if they can recommend a funeral home based on a recent experience they’ve had.

Services and Amenities

If you know what you or your loved one would want, use that information to help you ask questions about the types of services, support and amenities the funeral home offers. If you haven’t made those decisions yet, ask the funeral director to tell you about the types of arrangements, services and facilities they offer.

Five things to think about:

  1. The type of disposition you prefer (cremation or burial) and related items (casket, urn, burial marker, etc.).
  2. The type of service you prefer and how well the funeral home will work with others (such as a church or reception venue).
  3. Specific religious, ethnic, tradition-based or environmentally conscious preferences.
  4. Accessibility options for older or handicapped members of your family.
  5. Proximity to your home (or your loved one’s home), place of worship or cemetery.

Price vs. Value

As with any product or service, there are options available to you at a variety of price points. If you or your loved one haven’t planned ahead for funeral expenses, it can be tempting to price-shop or choose the lowest cost. Just remember: you tend to get what you pay for and you only have one opportunity to honor your loved one in this manner. It’s worthwhile to invest in a funeral director whose primary focus is delivering the best possible experience for your family.

A good funeral director:

  • Will take the time to understand your desires, needs and budgets before making recommendations or quoting a price.
  • Won’t take advantage of you by trying to sell you options you can’t afford or that aren’t right for you.
  • Won’t recommend something cheap that he or she knows you’ll be dissatisfied with.
  • Will do more than just the basics. He or she will answer your questions, handle the details and make things easier during a difficult time.

We Can Help

Not all funeral homes are the same, so how do you know you’re working with a reputable partner? If you are looking for a funeral home in the state of New York, make sure the funeral home you’re considering is a member of the New York State Funeral Directors Association. That’s an important distinction, because NYSFDA members are compassionate professionals committed to upholding a code of ethics. Find an NYSFDA member funeral home.

Additional Resources

Glossary of Funeral Service Terms

Funeral Directors: We're Good at Goodbyes
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