Services a funeral home can offer

4 min read

What can a funeral home do for you?

  • Handle all kinds of paperwork, inform other family and friends, and submit an obituary.

  • Arrange for extra elements of the ceremony including live music, video, catering, and more.

  • Help plan the scattering of ashes, including hiring a plane or a boat.

  • Accept donations for a loved one’s favored charity.

  • Assist you with finding financing if you need help covering the cost.

Although we tend to think of funeral homes as places where we gather to mourn the loss of a loved one and celebrate their life, they offer services that extend well beyond that. Funeral directors are trained in dealing with not just the particulars of preparing the body for its final resting place, but in how to handle the emotional side of things as well. And many funeral homes offer a wide range of services to help make things easier on the family during this difficult time and fulfill any wishes they have for a fitting memorial.

While the range of services that any given funeral home can provide will vary, you might be surprised at how many things they can help with, in addition to providing planning, preparation, and a setting for the ceremony and the burial.

If there is more you need to make sure your loved one is given a proper goodbye, without the stress of having to do it all yourself, your funeral director can step in to do many parts of the work. These services can include:

  • Handling necessary paperwork. Funeral directors not only handle all the paperwork for the burial or cremation process, but they can notify the Social Security Administration and other agencies about your loved one’s passing on your behalf as well. You can also purchase as many death certificates as you need for all of your loved one’s arrangements through the funeral home.

  • Making death announcements. Because you have a lot on your plate, both emotionally and in handling the details of what’s happening, funeral homes can reach out to family members and friends, letting them know the sad news, as well as the details about the upcoming services. They can also place obituaries in newspapers, if that’s something you want to do. 

  • Planning a meal. In some cultures, the loved ones of the person who has passed away gather together after the funeral to have a meal. Others may have a meal or even a party as part of the wake. Such a meal can be held at the funeral home, someone’s house, or a restaurant. No matter your preference, if you let the funeral director know what you want, they can organize it for you—whether it is a catered meal or reservations at a restaurant that may have been special to your loved one. 

  • Arranging for music. If you want certain songs played during the ceremony, or a string quartet performing as guests show up to the funeral, the funeral director can take care of this as well. It’s just a matter of letting them know that this is something you’d like to include. 

  • Accepting donations for charities. If your loved one had a cause that was important to them, whether they were a champion of the arts or an advocate for animals, then a nice gesture for their legacy might be to ask those who loved them to donate to a charity. A funeral home can receive donations, keep records of those donations, and make sure they get to the intended charity.

  • Creating video memorial tributes. If you supply the funeral director with photos or video clips you’d like compiled into a video to be shown during the ceremony, they can do that as well. Either the funeral director will put it together or they will have contacts that can create a beautiful, respectful tribute according to your instructions.

  • Helping you with the scattering of ashes. If your loved one has been cremated and you want (or they requested) their ashes to be scattered at sea or from the air, your funeral director will often have services they work with and can arrange the necessary transportation. They can also file the required paperwork for you with the EPA. For scattering on land, your funeral director can help you with the state and local laws surrounding such things and solicit permission or licenses if they are needed.

  • Assisting with financing. If the funeral you want for your loved one is more expensive than their estate can cover, many funeral homes have lenders they work with that can offer you a funeral loan, a special kind of personal loan meant to cover such expenses.

Depending on the funeral home, there may be many more services they can offer. And any request you have that is not in their repertoire, they will likely be able to find the right providers to help you with—often people they’ve worked with for years. No matter what the service is, make sure to get a firm and clear understanding of what the costs will be before you commit to it.

When you’re preparing to say your final goodbyes, a funeral director can really make a big difference in making it the ceremony you think will be most fitting for your loved one. And they can take many of the smaller or more bureaucratic tasks off your hands, giving you and your family and friends the space you need to grieve your loss and be there for one another.

You may be eligible for free bereavement support. Empathy can help with everything from funeral planning to estate administration, with step-by-step guidance and real-time expert support. Many people get free premium access to Empathy as a benefit with their life insurance claim. We partner with New York Life, Guardian Life Insurance Company, Bestow, Lemonade, and other leading carriers. When you make your life insurance claim, talk to your representative about whether Empathy is a benefit they offer.