Can You Trust Your Funeral Home? 5 Ways to Make Sure You Are Making a Good Choice

Tour the funeral home

If you are going through the difficult and heart-wrenching process of burying a loved one, the trustworthiness of a funeral home is probably not at the top of your list of concerns. Most funeral homes treat their customers with the respect and sensitivity that you would expect, however it is not always clear what may be going on behind closed doors.

In a shocking reveal, newly hired funeral home employee in Panama City, Florida found several decomposing bodies, improperly stored and mishandled in the funeral home’s storage area. Although it is nothing short of atrocious that something like this could happen, it is essential to be on the lookout for red flags. Here are a few ways to protect yourself when making this important decision:

1. Take a Tour of the Facility

This is especially true if you notice that the front of the house is not well maintained. In many cases, a funeral home will not only be happy to show you around, they will make a tour part of your consultation. Being wary of showing the facility is a sign that something may be amiss.

2. Find Reviews

Nowadays, it is easy to find reviews on just about every business; funeral homes are no exception. Take a look at the funeral home’s listing on Yelp or Facebook, or if you prefer an even more credible source, talk to others who may have been customers there. In most cases, if there is something to be concerned about, it will be flagged in reviews.

3. Consult the Better Business Bureau

The BBB is an excellent source of historical information about any complaints or issues that a business may have experienced. If there is any evidence of wrongdoing or if, on the other hand, a funeral home is doing a great job, you will be able to find out through the Better Business Bureau.

4. Check Out the Website

This may be something that you have already done, but reviewing a funeral home’s website could be a great way to find out how professional and reliable they are—is the website up-to-date? Is there credible information readily available? All of these can give you cues on whether or not a particular funeral home is a good choice for you.

5. How Long Have They Been in Business?

While it would be unfair to say that newer funeral homes are not providing good services, the length of time one has been in business is a legitimate way to gauge trust. Most reputable funeral homes have been operating for decades and have a strong, recognizable presence in their communities. If you find a newer funeral home, no need to automatically discount it, but you might want to look even closer at their website, their facility and their reviews.

A bit of research can go a long way in ensuring that you are dealing with an honest, respectable funeral home.

Phaneuf Named Top Family Business!


Although our primary purpose on this blog is to provide resources and advice for our readers, today we wanted to share something of which we are very proud: we have been recognized as one of Business NH Magazine’s Top Family Businesses! We are the 14th oldest family business and among the longest-held family businesses in the state. Additionally, our company growth puts us among the top quarter of fastest-growing family businesses in the state, 36th of the 157 family businesses listed this year. We are enormously proud of our success and longevity in New Hampshire.

The reason this news is so important for us to share is because we never would have made it this far without the loyalty and support of our community and, by extension, our clients.

Keeping it in the Family

When the Phaneuf family first opened its doors in 1906, our primary goal was to serve the growing population in the area. Over the course of four generations and 110 years, we have grown quite a bit, but our mission has never changed. We still seek to provide the highest quality of service on all levels, still keep the needs of our clients front and center and we continue to evolve to meet varying needs, as they arise. In fact, being a fourth-generation family-owned business, gives us a rare clarity of purpose that dates back to our founder, Jean-Baptiste Phaneuf. We know exactly what we are about, and that is you, our clients.

What’s more, we are truly a family business. Phaneuf is not just a name to be used in our logo, nor is our family just a figurehead—we are actively involved in every step of the process. Multiple members of our family are fully immersed in the trade in a variety of capacities. We are also community-oriented and have always sought to immerse ourselves in community initiatives—providing charitable funding, hosting beneficial events and sharing free resources.

So what does this mean for you?

We understand that choosing a funeral provider is a difficult and sometimes overwhelming process; you may be grieving or particularly vulnerable after the death of a loved one or dealing with a terminal illness. We want you to be sure that when you choose Phaneuf, you are choosing a trusted business that seeks to offer you all the support and advice that you may need. With more than a century of experience, you can be sure that we will do everything that we can to lift some of the burden off your shoulders.

It is an honor to be on this list because it reinforces our values and our goals. It is heartening to know that doing what we love and doing it well has proven to be what it takes to propel us into the future. Still growing, still expanding, we are also always conscious of the needs of our clients. We will continue to provide you with excellent services, advice and resources and we intend to keep our family legacy alive and well for generations to come.

A Changing Landscape: Funeral Homes in the 21st Century

Phaneuf has many options for today's funerals

Death is a given, yet many funeral homes are seeing a notable decline in business. Of course, lower death rates are hardly cause to lament, yet it is interesting to observe how an industry that has stayed essentially the same for decades is now tasked with the need for a significant evolution.  As culture shifts become ever more apparent, customers become more savvy in their end-of-life choices and religion becomes less of a concern, funeral homes must adjust to a new generation and, perhaps, a new business model. Continue reading

Three Ways Death Can Inspire You


Death is never a happy thought; we fear our mortality as we do that of those we love, yet death is an inevitability that none of us can escape. In recent years, there has been a movement to re-frame death in our minds — to make it less of a taboo and more of an undeniable fact to ponder and explore. While we may fear or dread death, one thing is clear—our lives, relationships and existence have more meaning because they are not infinite, because we will one day perish. When framed this way, death can be a source of inspiration.

1. We are All Alike

In a time when racial tensions plague our country and hate brings about terrible acts of terror, it is vitally important to remember that we are all the same. Our humanity binds us beyond all else. Our mortality unites us irrevocably. Before you pass judgment on your neighbor or someone whose culture or religion you disagree with, consider this very pertinent fact. We are more alike than we are different and you would do better to explore that commonality than to embrace the differences.

2. We Can Use Some Perspective

It’s easy to get hung up on the little things. Did everyone see when you got that piece of toilet paper stuck to your leg? Does your boss hate you? Did you make the right decision leaving that job? We are plagued by similar thoughts day in and day out, yet in the larger scheme of things they all pale in comparison to the big picture: your family, your friends, your spouse. Since we do not have an infinite amount of time to enjoy the pleasures and poignancy of life, let’s make more of a point to do so on a daily basis.

3. We Need a Push

All of us have put aside a big decision, avoided taking a chance thinking that we will have time to do so later—yet “later” will come sooner than you think and you may just miss it. Harkening back to the idea that the little things will fade away while the large ones may just shape your life, consider taking those chances, forgetting to be embarrassed or scared. Looking back on your life, you will likely not regret being brave, but surely you will regret only giving in to your fears.

Thinking about your own mortality does not have to be negative, in fact there is a lot of positivity and motivation that can be gleaned from doing so. Reflection is a close friend of productivity and a life well-lived.

Enjoy Some Magic

The Genie Lamp

It is not often that we get to ponder magical experiences or observe truly immersive experiences, but both are encompassed in our very own Stephanie Knott’s new art installation—the Genie Lamp! Think back to your childhood and remember when you played the game of three wishes. If you had, at your disposal, an ancient genie who could grant whatever your heart desires, what would you wish for? Would you look for loopholes? Could you confine yourself to only three wishes? Here’s your chance to live out the fantasy!

Continue reading

Grief in the Time of Technology

Grief in the time of tech

When asked, most people would probably laud technology as having made their life better. Tasks can be accomplished faster; entertainment and information are ubiquitous, and we have never been more connected to friends and family. When it comes to grief and loss, however, technology can create awkward and uncomfortable situations, calling into question who is “responsible” for announcing a death via social media and how such a delicate situation can be handled gracefully. Continue reading

What You Need to Know About Autopsies

Medical Examiner

Daniel X. O’Neil, Office of the Medical Examiner, Cook County, 2121 W. Harrison Street, Chicago, CC BY 2.0

If death is not sudden, it may seem like an autopsy is entirely unnecessary. After all, this is something that is require by law in cases where the death is suspect or there are questions that remain unanswered. While this is usually the case, autopsies are not limited to legal proceedings and may be desirable for a grieving family for various reasons; in the end, an autopsy is a final means of getting the complete truth about the deceased—what was the cause of death? Were the health care services being provided effective? Is there any reason to fear a genetic condition? All valid questions and all highly meaningful to the family and friends of someone who has passed. Here is what you need to know about autopsies. Continue reading

Where Do You Stand? The Intricacies of Physician Assisted Suicide


Watching a loved one struggle with a terminal illness is the worst nightmare to some and a stark reality to others. We all hope for an end that comes with dignity and choice, yet not everyone is ensured this simple wish. With California recently joining the very small group of states that have legalized physician-assisted suicide, it is interesting to take a closer look at this controversial issue and the debate that it has stirred up for decades. What is physician assisted suicide? Is it a compassionate vow to protect a person’s dignity or a deterioration of our society’s care for the terminally ill?

Currently only five states have legalized assisted suicide—Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and, now, California. On the other hand 41 states have specifically stated that this is an illegal course of action. General polling has shown that overall the country is almost evenly divided in its opinion; it’s fair to say that this is a complex issue that carries many implications with it. Continue reading

Digital Estate Management: What Is It and Why Might You Need it?

Digital Estate Planning

When you lose someone you love, the last thing on our mind may be their social media accounts or the various digital profiles that they may have created in life. But imagine coming across comments or friend requests on their Facebook, or navigating emails from distant acquaintances who have not heard of their passing. Imagine discovering debt acquired through ongoing payment plans for services to which you did not know they subscribed. Unfortunately, this is a common scenario in today’s world of extensive online presence.

You are already dealing with planning funeral arrangements, supporting other family members and friends and working through your own grief, how can you also take on the frustrating and lengthy process of shutting down various social accounts? Maybe you don’t have to go it alone. Continue reading

Burial With Your Pet: Crazy Notion or Next Level of Personalization?

Being buried with your pet

The Wall Street Journal recently offered an opinion piece on a bill that would allow people to be buried with their pets. Although the issue is being raised in New York, where Gov. Cuomo is currently evaluating the bill, this is an interesting topic that may soon pass to other states—wherever people and animals forge deep bonds. Interestingly enough, several pet cemeteries already allow humans to be buried with their beloved pets if they so choose, but the reverse is hardly ever the case. People cemeteries are, as of yet, reserved mostly for people. But is this practice to remain? Continue reading