Experiencing the passing of a loved one is one of the most difficult things a person can go through in their lives. Dealing with all the emotional backlash already drains you and leaves you feeling strained. When the time comes to plan a proper sendoff, the stress can be quite overwhelming.
It’s important to have a helping hand to relieve some of the burdens of organising a funeral and that’s exactly where a Singapore funeral director comes in.
What is a funeral director?
A funeral director (also known as a funeral undertaker) is a professional who plans, organises and runs all aspects of funerals for the deceased. In addition, funeral directors also take care of the bereaved family, attending to their wants and needs during the difficult time.
Besides providing funeral services in Singapore, Singapore funeral directors also have a deep understanding of the funeral rites of various religions and cultures that exist in Singapore.
Funeral Director and Funeral Undertaker
Another common word used in Singapore when referring to a funeral director is an undertaker. You often hear these terms in the same context but is there a difference between a funeral director and an undertaker?
Generally speaking, there isn’t a difference between the two and they can both be used to mean a professional tasked with organising funeral rites. In some cases, however, they can be associated with different tasks.
Funeral directors are someone who operates a funeral home, and who directs and coordinates the funeral. The undertaker is a person in charge of the smooth execution of a funeral service.
What does a funeral director do?
Other than planning and curating funerals, funeral directors are also in charge of preparing funerary supplies and making funeral arrangements with funeral parlours, crematoriums and cemeteries, on behalf of families. They may also work with families to decide on caskets or urns, and advise them on funeral customs and practices.
Funeral directors can also provide funeral pre-planning, and are often present at the funeral wake to provide assistance on the ground to the families and guests. They may also give bereavement counselling to the families when deaths occur.
Apart from the essential task of preparing loved ones for their final send-off, funeral directors are often in charge of gathering personal belongings for the deceased.
They may also help and advise families on all matters regarding ashes settlement (such as the scattering of ashes) and burial arrangements (such as reaching out to organisations that assist with burials).
Responsibilities of a funeral director
There are so many aspects that come into play when organising a funeral service and I will try to explain some of our responsibilities.
First, think of a funeral service as a whole. You have the funeral wake, the main ceremony, procession, cremation/embalming/burial, and mourning rituals. The job of funeral directors is to plan, curate, coordinate and execute all aspects of the funeral, ensuring that all of the mentioned processes run smoothly.
A funeral director can help to schedule all of the individual processes – transferring the body, booking the location for the main ceremony and/or wake, making reservations with the crematorium or cemetery, and discussing any mourning rituals that come after.
The funeral director is in charge of preparing the venue for the main ceremony and finding an officiant (a priest or monk). Exactly how the main ceremony will look – the decorations, tentage, seating arrangements, prayers, chants – all depends on the religion of the deceased, the family’s wishes and the funeral service package the family signed up for.
Typically, the funeral director advises and plans the funeral together with the family. The funeral director and his team will then work together to execute the funeral process.
Advantages of hiring a funeral director
Death often comes unannounced and it can leave the family lost as to what they should do. Funeral homes like Embrace are available 24/7 and can provide the advice and assistance you need at short notice.
1. You don’t have to worry about planning a funeral event
These days it isn’t uncommon for people to plan their funerals ahead of time. By planning ahead, a person can curate and customise a funeral to their preference. They can also make their wishes known beforehand.
The good thing about discussing the details of your funeral earlier with a funeral director is it lessens the burden on the bereaved family and makes the whole process a little more tolerable. The family can grieve in peace and leave it to the funeral director and his team to implement the funeral service.
2. You don’t have to worry about funeral customs and traditions to follow
The funeral director will advise on the funeral customs and traditions to follow. The family can be assured that they are adhering to the right practices and doing the right things.
3. You don’t have to worry about the paperwork
The paperwork and documentation side of death can be complicated. It may be difficult for family members to process these administrative tasks during this emotionally challenging time. Hence, it would be helpful to have an experienced funeral director who can guide you through the necessary documentation process.
How to choose a funeral director?
Finding the right funeral director who can provide you with the best service possible is not easy. A good way to separate unreliable service providers from quality service providers is by checking online reviews. Look out for real reviews written by real people who talk about their experiences working with the funeral director.
Most funeral directors offer several funeral service packages in Singapore with different pricing tiers to meet the needs of different customers. They will be able to advise which of their packages best suit your needs, budget and expectations after an initial consultation.
If you have custom requests or religious requirements for the funeral, make sure to check that the funeral home has the resources and experience in planning for such funerals.
The best funeral services often get mentioned in “Best” lists, so you can read articles that feature some of the top funeral services in Singapore like here.
How to become a funeral director?
In Singapore, there aren’t any formal qualifications a person needs to meet in order to become a funeral director. Instead of specific academic courses, an aspiring mortician is often born into the family business or learns about the job through personal engagement.
The intricacies of this profession are taught on the job and it is the responsibility of the funeral company to provide training for their employees. Although you might not need a degree to pursue the life of a funeral director, it does require a certain set of skills.
What qualities should a funeral director have?
Compassion is a funeral director’s most valued trait. People who seek a funeral service provider are vulnerable, suffering families who are going through the worst times of their lives. If you’re not able to empathise with your clients, you can’t even begin to guide them through this delicate process.
Since most of the job involves interacting with clients as well as making arrangements with other companies involved with funeral rites, communication skills and management skills are not just preferable but necessary. There are a lot of moving parts in a funeral and a funeral director is the very core of the whole operation.
Funeral directors need to adopt a certain mindset that differs from other careers. A funeral service provider needs to remember that what he’s conducting is exactly that, a service. He’s not making a sale, he’s serving his clients and making sure that their needs, wishes, and desires are met.
Open-mindedness is also key. There are various religions in Singapore, each with its own traditions and customs. A good funeral director is able to arrange a funeral that respects the family’s beliefs, even going so far as to incorporate elements of multiple religious practices into one funeral service.
A funeral director must know about the latest Covid-19 rules and regulations
Since 2020, the world has been turned upside down with the threat of Covid-19 lurking everywhere. Funerals are no exception.
(Updated May 2022: There are no more COVID-19 restrictions for funerals in Singapore.)
The responsibility of every funeral director is to be up-to-date with the latest safe management measures and Covid-19 regulations in Singapore. To know more about the most recent funeral measures, click on this link.
Do you need the help of a funeral director?
In summary, funeral directors are not only there to ensure funeral services run smoothly. They are also there to provide guidance and advice to grieving families; to lend a listening ear, and a helping hand at times of need.
Do you need a funeral director to provide you with the utmost compassion and support that one needs when faced with the death of a loved one?
Simply contact us to check how we at Embrace Funeral Services can assist you in dealing with funeral matters.