Most funeral directors can put on a good show. They can big up the empathy, switch on the sincerity, convince you they care. But what are they like when you’re not looking?

Quite the reverse, some of them, those who have lost the heart for it and are simply going through the motions. It is easy to grow pompous, complacent, hardened or bored when you deal every day with clients who do not keep you on your toes, whom you can easily talk into buying the same funeral as everyone else.

Busy urban funeral directors look after the bodies of all sorts of people they know nothing of and may care nothing about. Behind the scenes their indifference may turn to negligence, coarseness, disrespect. This may come as no surprise and should serve as a warning.

In rural areas it is more likely that funeral directors will know the people they are looking after. Not only that, but their private and public behaviour are much better known. They maintain their good name in the community at their commercial peril.

Having said which, there are many funeral directors who adhere to a code of behaviour whose high standards might astonish you. Behind the scenes they treat their dead bodies with immaculate courtesy. They talk to them as they wash and dress them. They knock before going in to the chapel of rest. They carry coffins gently. They hold ashes’ urns in both hands, never under one arm. They are exactly the same in public as in private. They have a strong sense of pride in their calling. This is the sort of funeral director you are looking for and which this website will help you to find.

Don’t expect undertakers to be grief counsellors. Why should they be? If, as a nation, we are not good at handling death, it is not their responsibility to do something about that. We hire an undertaker to take care of the practicalities, not to take away the pain. Some do offer counselling as an expression of their commitment to care. You will make your own appraisal of their qualifications for doing so.