The Role of the Funeral Director – What they can and cannot help with

Funeral Director

The role of the funeral director can vary greatly based on what plans the deceased made (or didn’t make), what their loved ones want for a funeral, the circumstances of death, and the documentation left behind.

In an ideal world, no one would ever die without having a will that names an executor/personal representative and letting that person, and their relatives, know what they want for a funeral service. While funeral pre-planning and dying without a will are very different, the linked articles can provide more insight on both for you.

A funeral director’s purpose is to help you and your family in this time of need. This can take many forms, from walking you through each and every decision to implementing your plans. From the moment you connect with your funeral director, they will begin working on your behalf. They will register the death with the province, including checking to see if all documentation is sufficient, such as the medical examiner’s certificate. The steps they take to accurately document the death will help to facilitate the legal steps that will follow.

When families know what the deceased wanted for a service and their remains, the funeral director can implement their requests. However, if there was no knowledge of what the deceased would have wanted, the funeral director can help by making suggestions and offering advice, listening to requests, and finding a way to honour the deceased in a way that pleases the family, and brings them peaceful closure. The funeral director’s role also involves finding out your financial situation and helping you develop funeral plans that stay within your budget; this will include making suggestions on caskets, flowers, locations, transportation, burial and cremation, etc.

Funeral directors are knowledgeable about all aspects of funeral services, from church services to hall options, from flowers to donations, and from music to food. Their role is to support the family through the entire journey, from being available to take your call the moment the death occurs, to planning the next steps, to the reception, and sometimes beyond.

At Country Hill Crematorium, our funeral directors:

  • will treat everyone with the utmost respect and dignity,
  • have extensive experience working with many places of worship in the Calgary area,
  • know of alternate locations to hold funeral services,
  • can recommend live and taped music options,
  • are extensively skilled at offering funeral live streaming,
  • can suggest clothing appropriate to the circumstances of death,
  • are knowledgeable about many different religious customs,
  • will work with the family to write the obituary notice including all pertinent information,
  • can find suitable donation options,
  • can discuss embalming
  • are knowledgeable about flower options,
  • will plan the day to accommodate all the arrangements requested,
  • can arrange transportation, and
  • so much more to ensure the final arrangements you make for your loved one bring you peace and comfort.

While funeral directors are the backbone of all funeral planning, they have some limitations on what they can do. A few limitations are:

  • they cannot break any laws,
  • they cannot influence the will in any way,
  • they cannot take direction on the funeral service from someone who is not a named executor or within the chain of command (see dying without a will for more on this topic),
  • they cannot take possession of the body before the correct steps have happened, such as having the hospital release it or having the medical examiner involved,
  • they cannot provide a death certificate to anyone who requests it,
  • they will not physically bar someone from entering a service, but if a conflict is expected, they can offer suggestions on how to deal with (or prevent) it, and
  • they will not accommodate special requests, such as friends asking for a private viewing or streaming the service, without the family’s authorization.

Our funeral directors aspire to help the deceased’s family in every way possible. Bringing families together to honour their loved one, in a way that is respectful and loving, is essential to the grieving process. Every family and situation is unique, and we listen, inquire and work with each family to create a funeral service ideal for their loved one.

If you have any questions about the role of the funeral director, want to discuss your circumstances, or need help with a funeral service now, please contact us. We are available immediately to help you and your family in your time of need.

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