How to Prepare for Your First Meeting with the Funeral Director
When you lose a loved one, your first order of business is to choose a funeral home that will guide you through the burial decision making process. This funeral home will help you arrange the burial, cremation, funeral, and/or memorial service, up to and including selling you all the necessary items and preparing the body for the type of interment you choose.
Once this has occurred and the body transported to the funeral home, you will be asked to arrive for an arrangement conference with the funeral director. This is often your first face-to-face meeting with the professional in charge of your loved one’s care, so you might be nervous or unsure about what to expect. Although all funeral homes (and funeral directors) operate differently, most follow a few typical guidelines.
- Length of Visit: This first visit can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the type of services you want, how many decisions you need to make, and even how many people are present at the meeting. Try to clear a large space of time so you don’t feel rushed.
- What to Bring: A large part of the first visit is about providing necessary information about the deceased to the funeral home. This includes things like the deceased’s social security number, date of birth, military service status, place of death, and address. Gather all this information ahead of time to save an extra visit later on.
- What to Wear: This is not a formal meeting, so it’s best to wear what you will be most comfortable in. You’ll be making a lot of hard decisions and may break down in tears (this is very common!), so it’s best to dress in clothes that bring you comfort.
- Decisions to Make: During this meeting, you’ll likely be asked to decide on things like burial or cremation, what type of casket you’d like, whether or not to embalm the deceased, the type of visitation that will be held, the date of the funeral, who will lead the funeral, and other funeral planning details. If you don’t know all the answers yet, that is Okay. You can use this first meeting as a way to gather information about your options and decide during a second visit.
- Personal Effects: If you already know what clothing you’d like the deceased to be buried in, or if there are personal items you’d like placed in the casket, it is appropriate to bring them now. (You can also wait until you’re asked to provide them.) You might also want to gather things like photographs for the slide show or the obituary, as these can come in handy.
- Making Financial Arrangements: It’s rarely fun to talk about money so soon after losing a loved one, but this will be a big part of the arrangement conference. Funeral homes are support systems, yes, but they’re also businesses. This means you’ll need to provide documentation about a pre-paid plan, insurance information that will be used to pay for the funeral, and/or your personal financial information (for financing purposes). If you’ll be paying out-of-pocket or making a deposit, a credit card or other form of payment should be brought to the meeting.