What Do Funeral Directors Do?

Funeral Planning

Posted on June 10, 2014 by Cindy Phan

What are funeral directors?

Funeral directors have existed throughout history. Also referred to as morticians and undertakers, in history these men and women were actually viewed as unclean in their dealings in the business of the dead, and were even ostracized.

Since ancient time, the act of burying the dead is given utmost respect and importance. Those who mainly assisted the family in organizing the burial of the dead became known as undertakers. Over time, these undertakers became known as morticians as modern science came into play and applied different actions taken to preserve and care for the body post-mortem and inside the casket.

Morticians became known as funeral directors and over time have developed a more professional image as opposed to their previous tradesmen persona.

Nowadays, funeral directors are respected individuals within the community whom uphold a professional, dignified image in dealing with end-of-life arrangements for other valued members of their community. Basic qualifications for funeral directors include a degree in mortuary science, local licenses to perform their work, experience from an amount of time as an apprentice, and emotional capabilities to not only keep themselves sound and stable, but the family and friends of the deceased as well.

Why do you need a funeral director?

In nearly all the states you actually don't need a funeral director at all.  Your family can file all necessary paperwork, transport the body, and lead the funeral. This is known as a home funeral or family-led funeral.  

In a few states you will be required to enlist in the assistance of some sort from a funeral home or licensed funeral director. However, some people may be uncomfortable with some of these actions or too distraught and would prefer to work with a funeral director to assist them with funeral preparations and legal paperwork (like filing for and obtaining death certificates).  

Funeral directors are trained and often licensed professionals (licensing varies state-by-state) who can help you plan a funeral by providing you with a closely personal service, helping you proceed through the funeral and mourning process smoothly. Funeral directors also provide you with comfort during the dreary time, as well as recommend professional sources to help you deal with aspects of grief and emotional disturbance.

What exactly do funeral directors do?

  1. Assist with preparing the body and placing it into the coffin

  2. Help settle on a date and time for funeral service

  3. Conduct the funeral

  4. Arrange for transportation of the body to destination

  5. Secure legal documents

  6. Assist survivors in filing claims for death benefits

  7. Provide families with advice on funeral arrangements

  8. Help decide on style of caskets, funeral, flowers, cars, cost

  9. Give help, advice, and comfort on matters regarding death

  10. Provide the facility or funeral home for family to view the deceased

  11. Handle all necessary paperwork such as death certificate and allowing for burial or cremation to occur

  12. May communicate with local newspaper regarding obituary

  13. May liaise with church, cemetery, celebrants, and other related personnel for funeral service

  14. May order, care for, and arrange floral tributes on behalf of loved ones

  15. May organize post-service reception and catering

  16. Abide to wishes and preferences of the family