What Is a Funeral Home?

The loss of a loved one creates a lot of unknowns for the surviving family members, including who to turn to for help. Unless you’ve gone through the process of planning a funeral, you are likely unsure of where to start. A funeral home is a great option for those looking for support and guidance through the process, from beginning to end.

Trying to navigate the deep emotions and grief that accompany death is difficult without the added pressure of planning and putting on a funeral or memorial service that honors the life of the deceased. With the assistance of a funeral home director, families can simplify making complex decisions and have time to grieve. Want to know more about funeral homes and what services they offer? The following guide has all the ins and outs that you need to understand.

Funeral Home Basics

A funeral home is a business that provides care for the deceased, from the time of death through burial. A full-service funeral home often has at least one professional funeral director on staff who is tasked with assisting the family of the deceased as they decide how they would like to handle all aspects of the funeral process. Funeral homes serve as the location for the preparation of the body as well as any visitations or funeral services that families may choose to have.

What Is the Difference Between a Mortuary and a Funeral Home?

The terms “funeral home” and “mortuary” are often used interchangeably, and they do have many similarities. However, the term mortuary generally refers to the place where the body of the deceased is taken and processed, usually through embalming or cremation. Some mortuaries have dedicated areas where small services can be held, but the main service they offer is the care and preparation of the body.

On the other hand, funeral homes are more expansive, usually still offering mortuary services like embalming, but also providing large spaces for full funerals or memorial services. Many funeral homes even have their own memorial parks where the deceased can be buried. While not always the case, some funeral homes do not offer cremation services, so be sure to check ahead of time if that is an option you’d like to have.

What Services Do Funeral Homes Offer?

The benefit of using a funeral home comes in the form of services offered. Funeral home services are handled by a funeral director who is tasked with making arrangements and offering guidance when making important choices about the deceased, which may include the following.

Removal and Transport of the Deceased

When a death occurs, funeral homes are available 24/7 to respond to the place of death and transport the deceased to the funeral home. Families are eased of the burden of knowing what to do with the body of their loved one, thanks to the compassionate care of trained funeral directors.


A professional is necessary when it comes to the preparation process that proceeds burial. Most funeral homes offer washing, embalming, dressing, hairdressing and cosmetology to prepare the deceased for a viewing and for the burial to meet required regulations.

Administrative Needs

When in the depths of grief, it’s easy to forget all of the administrative details that need to be done after a death. Funeral directors handle those needs, including filing the death certificate, filing death claim benefits and assembling and publishing obituaries (with the help of family) on their website as well as local news publications.

Assistance With Funeral Planning

As mentioned above, unless you’ve planned a funeral, you probably need help. A funeral home’s business is to provide that help and the know-how to guide you through the process. Funeral directors make suggestions, but they also listen closely to the families’ needs and wants if there are specific requests.

Funeral Products

Caskets, urns, vaults and more are offered and purchased through funeral homes. This helps simplify the burial process so families don’t have to shop around for what they need.

Transportation of Family Members

When a funeral includes a procession from the funeral home to a cemetery, the funeral home will provide transportation for family members, often in a limousine.

Types of Funerals and Memorials

More and more people are choosing less-traditional options when it comes to funerals and memorials. Funeral homes can be the setting for practically any service, from the more traditional to the informal. Here are a few of the most common options.

Traditional Funeral

A traditional funeral home service includes music, speakers and eulogies and typically follows a basic formal format. Some people choose to have a traditional funeral in a church, but the funeral home still helps plan and set up for the service in the off-site location. However, funeral homes are set up to host traditional services as well.

Memorial Service

A memorial service is usually a bit less traditional than a full funeral, with guests sharing memories of the deceased without the structure of a formal program. This has become a more popular choice for those looking to stay away from a more rigid, formal funeral.

Memorial Visitation

Some people prefer to have a short visitation without a funeral service, giving close friends and family members the option of viewing the body of the deceased prior to burial. For some, this offers closure after loss.

Graveside Service

A graveside service takes place at the cemetery but can still be handled by a funeral home. It is much less formal and typically involves fewer people, with short readings, prayers or memories shared at the location of the burial.

Which Funeral Home Is Right for You?

Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough without the right funeral home and director to help. When choosing a funeral home, go with the one that is compassionate, helpful and dedicated to serving families. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure that you are comfortable with the funeral home services provided.

Southern Cremations & Funerals operates full-service funeral homes in the Atlanta metro area. If you’d like to learn more about what we offer, please contact us today.

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