After supporting bereaved people in Stourbridge and beyond for 175 years, we like to think we know a thing or two about arranging funerals.

But we’re always keen to learn more as part of a commitment to delivering the best possible service to the families in our care.

A recent source of learning inspiration has come in the form of an excellent report by the University of York’s Dr Julie Rugg, in partnership with a range of organisations including Full Circle Funerals, the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, the Good Funeral Guide and the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.

The document is an essential piece of work in helping us to understand how best to help people following the loss of a loved one.

Researchers spoke to 50 bereaved people to gain insights into what is important to them and five factors emerged as common themes. These are:

  • Whether the person’s wishes were known;
  • If the decision-making process for funeral arrangements was inclusive;
  • Whether the funeral director was sufficiently responsive;
  • Having the right level of contact with the body of the person who had died and;
  • Whether the funeral service met expectations.

The first point about knowing a person’s wishes is something we are regularly emphasising through our work with Dying Matters Dudley. Understanding a loved one’s final wishes can make a huge, positive difference to their funeral.

The second point is also important. With more people opting to personalise funerals, funeral directors are increasingly playing a consultative role with families. Nowadays, it’s all about forging a supportive partnership.

Thirdly, funeral directors need to be responsive in terms of being able to gauge from the outset what approach to take with each family. Template services simply don’t work for funerals – it has to be tailored.

The fourth point can really have a lasting effect on bereaved people. Being with the body – or not – is important. A good funeral director will help to facilitate this, whether it’s at their premises at a time that suits the family or in the family home itself.

Finally, we like to think that the funerals we arrange always meet our clients’ expectations and more. After studying this report, it seems clear that the best way to get it right first time (because there is only a first time), is to pay close attention to the other four points.

By being responsive and involving families in the decision-making process we’re able to arrange a funeral that is in line with a family’s hopes and wishes. At H. Porter & Sons, we like to think this is something we’ve been doing for many years. But thanks to Dr Rugg’s work, we’ve now got a set of insights that we can apply to our approach for the benefit of bereaved people.