The loss of a loved one is not only one of the saddest experiences that you can have, it is one of the most confusing and vulnerable times of your life. You are thrown into a maelstrom of emotions, but out of necessity, and in some cases to keep your mind occupied, you have to set about the task of arranging or helping to arrange the funeral of a loved one.

There are big decisions to be made and you may not be in the best frame of mind to make them. It is easy to sign off on things without being across the details because you are counting on the integrity of those about you. What you may not know is that like any industry, there are good and not-so-good funeral homes in Australia. Sadly, some are honest and some aren’t although we hope that the dishonest operators are few and far between. It’s also fair to say that some professional funeral services are better than others and some are more suited to your needs than others.

Due diligence

So the first tip on creating a short list of suitable funeral directors is: Do your due diligence. Ask around for recommendations or read online reviews. Read this and other articles, so you know the types of things that you should be looking out for and the questions that you need to ask. You will soon learn if a funeral director has a good, bad or indifferent reputation.

You can learn alot about an organisation by the quality of their staff

You need to always be treated with courtesy, respect and professionalism. That principle is even more applicable to the funeral industry. If the employees are exemplary professionals then that reflects well on the organisation. It means that the organisation maintains very high standards. You would also hope that a skilled and caring employee would balk at working for an organisation that didn’t share their professional values.

Look at the fine print

So when you have your short list and you are starting to negotiate, set your potential funeral directors some tasks and measure how well they follow through.

Do they return your calls in a timely and professional manner? Are they well informed and proactive about the procedures that need to be followed to get your loved one into their care? Do you feel as though they are giving you an honest and comprehensive evaluation of costs and options so that you won’t get a nasty surprise after your loved one’s funeral? That means what is and isn’t included in their quote. Hidden costs are one of the main complaints levelled against funeral directors. If they don’t provide certain services are they able to help you to access them? Sometimes it’s the small details like providing tissues for mourners or water on hot days. Do they have an online platform for personalised memorials? These are indications that the funeral director is across all of the details.


You need to make sure that the funeral home offers all of the services that you require. Some of those services will include a cremation, transportation, embalming and a willingness, as well as the ability, to meet your religious or cultural requirements. You should also make sure that the funeral director of your choosing is handling all of the details and not outsourcing them. It may be a perfectly reasonable and efficient way to provide the service but you are entitled to know.

View the facilities

Another indicator as to the level of a funeral home’s professionalism is the quality of their premises. Cleanliness is an obvious prerequisite. There should be a chapel where you have the option to spend some time in reflection. There should be a spacious and comfortable meeting area where refreshments are available and the seating and decor should be tasteful, renewed and comfortable. At such a difficult time, you need to be talking about your loved ones funeral in a pleasant environment.

Finally, make sure that the funeral director that you choose will be willing to accommodate your personal needs. That may mean tailoring their services to meet your budget or being aware that your grief is so overwhelming that you require some additional professional help to get you through. It is important to remember that you have engaged a service that’s main role is to provide care for you and your loved one.