Working with the funeral director

When it comes to supporting families in a time of need, Funeral Directors and clergy have the same aims. A great partnership and a commitment to best practice will result in better funerals, and a foundation for building longer term relationships with families.

It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of the relationship between those who take funerals and the Funeral Directors who are organising them. The independent research , commissioned by the Archbishops’ Council,  showed clearly that Funeral Directors are important to the bereaved, their advice is trusted and their help appreciated. Ultimately, the Funeral Director trusts the most public and visible part of their business to the person conducting the ceremony.

Funeral Directors want a celebrant who:

“As a funeral director, you want to get the date and time sorted as soon as possible. And if the vicar doesn’t respond to the message, well, then, you look elsewhere. There are plenty of other options available.”

  • Meets the needs of the family
  • Is easy to work with, which means available and customer-focused

Research with funeral directors revealed that all too often Church of England ministers have reputation for disorganisation, making bad mistakes and applying rigid rules which hurt families.

However, the good news is that the quality of relationship between the local Church of England team and the Funeral Director makes all the difference.

Things have changed significantly in the last twenty or so years, and now the local CofE minister is often one choice amongst many, so it’s really important that locally, clergy invest in this relationship and show that it is valued.

Practical ideas include:

“It (the funeral pilot) has been a huge change in how we work with each other… That’s really borne fruit in terms of cementing the relationship we have (with Funeral Directors) and in having them approach families when they come in, and having them discuss what types of service they might be looking for. It’s been fantastic.” [Vicar, funeral pilot diocese]

  • Invite Funeral Directors along to licensing and other special events in the life of the church. Include their business in your cycle of prayers.
  • Make sure your local Funeral Directors and their staff understand all that a Church of England funeral offers. This means making sure they know that you will take funerals at a crematorium and a green burial site, but also that the church is available to families.
  • Take them a supply of the information leaflet and let them know about the website.
  • Ask them for feedback – they will have seen more funerals than almost anyone else.
  • Take time to get to know them and their concerns, offering pastoral care as needed.
  • Make sure they know when clergy and other ministers are unavailable, and who to contact if they need someone.
  • Give them mobile numbers and other means of contact.