Life working at a Funeral Home – Death Certificates


Death Certificates –

I have written about death certificates before but I am going to again….just because it seems that no matter how many times I tell someone the process of getting a death certificate works, no one listens. Especially a pending death certificate.

When a person dies, a death certificate must be filed. The family usually wants and needs some certified death certificates for financial reasons, personal reasons, or for an attorney, etc…. So this is how it goes, usually. (I am writing this process based on how it works where I am located, it may vary state by state).

When we receive a death call we obviously find out where this person passed at.

If the person passed away in a hospital we ask:  will the doctor information come with the deceased or do we need to contact medical records? If the information will be with the deceased we will wait until the body is brought to the funeral home, there will be a slip with the deceased’s name, date and time of death and the doctor who will be signing the death certificate and the doctor’s office phone number. We will call the office and verify that this doctor will be signing and when may we come to the office with the death certificate to have it signed. If we have to contact medical records, we call them and give them the deceased’s name and date of death and ask if we can have the doctor that will be signing the death certificate and hopefully a phone number so we can call the doctor’s office and verify and ask when we can come to get it signed. Some doctors will sign a death certificate at the hospital and the hospital will contact us when it is ready for us to come pick up.

If the person passed away at home: we ask the caller if the deceased was under hospice care at home? If they were, then we would ask to speak with the hospice nurse who in turn will give us the name of their hospice facility and phone number so we can call the hospice facility and find out if we need to type the death certificate and bring it to the facility or if the doctor will be signing a death certificate at the facility and we pick it up. Where is the facility located and when should we come to get the death certificate (usually they will call us when it is signed or they will give us a time frame in which we can come get one signed). Also any death that occurs at home requires that Medical Examiner is contacted. Regardless if it is hospice or not (and again, this is my State and the county in which we are in). Since the death occurred at home and the M.E. was contacted then we need the case number to which they assigned to the deceased because that information is entered onto the death certificate. If the patient was not under hospice care and had not been under any care of any doctor for any illness that may have caused the death, then when the police officer contacts the M.E. and lets them know the situation, the M.E. will pick the deceased up from the home and take them back to the Medical Examiners office for an autopsy. When that happens the Medical Examiner automatically is the one signing the death certificate. When we are told we are able to pick the deceased up from the Medical Examiner’s office the death certificate will be with the deceased and brought back to the funeral home for us to finish typing (all the deceased’s information – I will post what other information is entered on the death certificate later in this post). If the patient had been under the care of a doctor for an illness and the police officer informs the M.E. of this, the M.E. will get the doctor information from the family and contact that doctor to verify and will release the body to the funeral home of the families choice. So when we receive the call from the family or police office we will ask what the case number from the M.E and contact the M.E to get the doctor information so we can contact that doctor to verify that he/she will be signing the death certificate, where their office is located and when may we come to the office to get it signed.

If the patient was in a Nursing Home: Similar to if the deceased passed away at a hospital, but sometimes in a Nursing Home the patient may be under the care of Hospice. So if the deceased was a regular inpatient at a Nursing Home we will ask the Nursing Home where do we get the death certificate signed, at the doctor’s office or will there be one at the Nursing Home for us to pick up. If the patient was under hospice care at a Nursing Home, then we need to find out what hospice company and get the phone number and call that hospice facility to find out if we are to pick the death certificate up from them or do we need to bring one to them and again, where are you located and when may we come to pick up or get it signed.

So, once we have the doctor information and we know who, when and where….we will type a death certificate (if we have to take one to get signed). We can only type one once we have ALL the information on the deceased, that we get from the family when they come in to make the funeral arrangements. If we are to pick up a death certificate that has been signed then we have to bring it back to the funeral home to type in the deceased’s information. (so if someone passes in the middle of the night and we get the doctor information first thing in the morning but the family is not coming in until, lets say, 1pm, we cannot take the death certificate to get signed until we have that information, most doctors will not sign a blank death certificate, unless they are signing one that is at their facility, such as a hospital or hospice facility, and even if we are able to pick the signed death certificate up before the family comes in for arrangements, we still cannot type in anything until we get the required information).

Information needed for a death certificate:

First, Middle, and Last name of deceased.  Date of Birth.  Sex.  Date of Death.  Name at Birth.   Age.  Place of Death.  City/Town of Death.  County of Death.  Usual Residence.  County.  City.  Address of deceased.  Zip code.  Place of Birth.  Social Security Number.  Highest level of Education.  Race.  Nationality.  Was deceased a Veteran.  Usual Occupation.  Kind of business or industry.  Deceased Married, Widowed, or Divorced.  Name of surviving spouse (use maiden name).  Father’s name.  Mothers name (maiden name).   Informant’s name.  Informants address.  Informants phone #.  Informants relationship to deceased.  Is it Burial, Entombment, or Cremation.  Location of Burial.  City & State of burial.  Funeral Directors Signature.  Name and address of Funeral Home.  Time of Death.  Type if facility where death occurred or at home.  Inpatient, Emergency Room or other.  Was Medical Examiner contacted.  If yes, Case number.  Was autopsy preformed.  Type of death (all deaths are considered natural unless it was an accident, murder, suicide).  The doctors signature and address.  Cause of death.

Once we have ALL of that and we have typed it all in, we can now take it to the proper city clerks office to have it filed. Death Certificates are filed in the city the deceased passed away in. Every city clerks office has their own charges for death certificates. Typically the cost is around 15/5 ($15 for the first certified copy and $5 for every other copy). We do not charge the family any extra for death certificates! City clerks offices are open during regular business hours. Monday thru Friday only. They are all usually closed on all holiday’s and some are closed on certain days or close early on certain days because of cuts within that city. We take the death certificate that we typed that has the doctor signature on it and a check for the full amount of the death certificates needed (we add those charges to the funeral bill, so this is something that we pay for up front).  We then bring the certified death certificates back to the funeral home for the family.

Now….. if for some reason the death certificate is PENDING you would usually want to wait for the amended (with cause of death) copies. We still have to go thru the same process, but instead of a cause of death being on the death certificate it says “PENDING”, the funeral home still MUST file it with the city clerks office. A death certificate will be pending if the deceased was at the Medical Examiners office and the M.E. has done toxicology and other tests that will take a while to get back. So here is where the problems arise. It takes a long time for a death certificate to be amended (in my county and State it doesn anyway….our county Medical Examiner is busy, we are in a major city). So we try to explain to those families who will be waiting on an amended death certificate that it is going to take a while for the M.E. to amend it. Once the M.E. amends the death certificate  an application with the cause of death is forwarded to the State. The State makes the correction then forwards the corrected (amended) death certificate to the proper city clerks office. The city clerks office will inform the funeral home once they receive the amended death certificate. Once we know this we go and get the number of copies of the amended death certificate the family wants. The whole process can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 9 months, sometimes even longer! It is NOT up to the funeral home. It is NOT that we are not doing our job. It is ONLY in the hands of the Medical Examiner and once it leaves their office it is up to the State and who knows how long it sits on someones desk at the State!  So calling us will not speed up the process. Yelling at us will not speed up the process! There is not one thing the funeral home can do for you. Even though the Medical Examiner knows the cause of death, doesn’t mean that the death certificate is ready. It still has to go thru that process. What I mean about the M.E. knowing the cause, some families may contact the M.E directly after so many weeks to find out if the toxicology reports are back and if the M.E. has determined cause of death. The family can purchase a copy of the autopsy report. The funeral home DOES NOT get a copy of the autopsy report! We understand that you need the amended copy of the death certificate for things like, life insurance, financial reasons, whatever but we cannot do anything, anything at all to get you that death certificate any sooner!  A lot of families think that the death certificate is ready and waiting for them when they come in for arrangements. So we have to explain the process to them. We get some families who are in such a hurry to get them they keep asking when will they be available, I need them. Have to have them NOW. Well, too bad. Gonna have to wait like everyone else! I have had families ask me if they could just go get the death certificate signed and filed because apparently they think we are the one dragging our feet! Even after we have explained to them over and over what we have to do to get one signed! It isn’t always so cut and dry. We may have been given the wrong doctor information, so we have to keep making phone calls to get the correct one, it’s a pain the freaking ass! If the M.E. has the body and they are doing an autopsy, we may not be able to even pick the body up for a day or two! the doctor may only be available on certain days, etc…..So we ALL play the waiting game. Also, ANYONE! and I mean ANYONE is able to get a copy of a death certificate. You can walk into a city clerks office and present identification and pay the fee and get a death certificate on any person you wish. So, families that think these death certificates are soooooooo private, they aren’t! Death Certificates are PUBLIC RECORD! We get a lot of families who immediately say “no ONE is to get any copies of these death certificates ONLY me, I don’t want so and so to have one or so and so doesn’t need to know what the death certificate says!” well…okay. “We” won’t give anyone else any certified copies or photocopies but they can certainly go get one on their own if they wish…   So there’s that!

29 Responses to “Life working at a Funeral Home – Death Certificates”

  1. So I have a question that I cant seem to find anywhere. I was adopted, I know my birth father died in 1981, I know his social, his birthdate, but I can’t find any information about what county or state he died in in order to find more information. Do you have any tips to find that information?

    • Hi there… unfortunately without using a website that you have to pay to get information I dont really know where to tell you where to look. I know that with the info you have you could probably have no problem finding more info on him using Ancestry.com. They use to offer free trial for 14 days I think. If you are willing to do something like that. There is also a site called deathcertificate.com where you can do a search with limited info but I believe they charge a $1.00 for the search and I am not sure what info they give or how accurate it is. Do you happen to know where he was born? Maybe he lived there all his life? And if you know any relatives names and where they died? It is hard because as you already said, you do not know state or county of death. Did you try going to Google and typing in his name and year of death? If there was any obit written on him when he died, it should come up in the search. It will also give you obviously those websites that it is listed. Some may only give limited info but you may get lucky and find one that at least has the first few lines of the obit, which usually includes where that person was from. GOOD LUCK!! I am sorry i couldnt be more help to you…please keep me updated on your search and in the meantime if i happen to find any info out i will let you know.

  2. Hope you don’t ever get a grumpy old man wanting to build his own casket. They’d be the ultimate funeral guest from hell I reckon. Last night on TV I saw the strangest ad for a funeral home and, in fact, I think even for my liking it’s kinda creepy. I’m sure it’s going to get some kind of reaction from the public. Even though they may have tried to look serious, I think it doesn’t exactly help debunk the myth of funerals that many homes are trying to disspell with the public. This particular home is a corporate firm and their main clientele are people of multicultural backgrounds and in the ad it shows several people saying the line goodbye my love in their own language. But as they say it, this hand in a black suit appears to the side of the screen and lays on their shoulder. No actual person behind them, just a hand. In fact I thought it was quite funny.

    Most homes advertising on TV here show the actual directors, not just a hand appearing! Not the sort of thing people may not want to see during evening prime time TV I think. Actually my favourite funeral home ad here is one of the major family homes that have their kids saying when they grow up, they want to be just like their mum and dad and follow in their footsteps. It’s really sweet. It accentuates that whole unity with family I think.

    We have a winter festival in June here in my city and there’s events for those of us who haven’t experienced snow and ice, we can go ice skating on a rink outside the city hall, or for the kids they can slide down a snow hill on tyres and there’s a pavilion with man made snow where you can go sledding down a slope or have snowball fights. Actually the closest I’ve come to snow was one summer we had a bad hailstorm which turned our street entirely white with thick covered piles of ice and people were chucking handfuls of it at each other in the middle of summer. It was pretty neat. It’s finally cooling down here now, we’ve got temps in the 60s and 70s now, thank god. Know what you mean about grocery prices and bad weather forking up the price. We had a lot of natural disasters in my state last summer 2011 with flooding and a strong hurricane up north that wiped out most of the fruit farms there which supply the whole country with fruit. And just south of my home town up north where the big banana farms are, the whole crop was wiped out too which caused banana prices to go up to $20kg. All of last year It was almost a status symbol to have just one banana in your fruit bowl on your kitchen table! Now with Fall coming, the summer fruits are now going out of season and downright expensive.

  3. Well done on finishing that job! It’s a good feeling to do the “last walk out”! How many years exactly were you at the home? I know what you mean about employees screwing up all the time and not taking the responsibility. I’ve had that before with colleagues in a previous job.

    Ha, ha, in my weekend paper again, the DIY casket builders live on! They’re all coming out of the woodwork now. All it takes is one nut job and they all come out. This one person wrote into the editorials this weekend and said she was refusing to pay $5000 for a casket (that’s got to be some kind of casket!) and making her own – purple with adornments…(does she want the masoleum at the cemetery as well!) Be funny if the family in the end decides to get her cremated. So much for the adornments and all that trouble with the purple paint.

    I’ve got a good mind to write in myself and educate these people that all well and good to build your own casket but either way they’re going to be dealing with the industry as removing the body and transporting it. Those saying they don’t want to pay for a hearse, how else are they going to get themselves to their final resting place. Imagine that scene going down the freeway or being stuck behind in a traffic jam, a purple adorned casket on a roof rack or the back of a truck. Too hilarious. I think people forget to there’s more to a funeral than just a casket as well. I could write in but it may bring out a whole lot more nut jobs arguing my point and I’d be wasting my breath. I know some funeral homes can custom make a casket for a person if they pre-arrange and it does work out cheaper than buying one ready made. To be honest, if I had to plan a funeral for a family member, although there’s some family members I don’t get along with, I’d want to make sure I’d give them at least a decent send off, not just have a home made box used as a coffee table in the meantime – I still can’t get over that! That’s too funny.
    It’s law here too to have a body buried in a vault if they choose a cemeterial burial. I guess the DIY-ers didn’t think of that either!
    I meant to tell you last time that we do get snow here, but only in the mountains of the southern states where the ski resorts are. It doesn’t snow in my state. We may get heavy frosts out west in the hills but honestly I’ve never seen snow in my life.The southern states are more temperate with climate whereas my area is sub tropical, but we can get cold weather in winter.My dad’s area in my home up north is purely tropical -I mean seriously, they think 19C (67F) is freezing up there. I remember visiting my dad up there in July, mid winter, it was that temperature and I’m walking around in shorts and having the fan on at night and dad’s saying how chilly it is and where’s the extra blanket for himself!
    Best of luck with your new job!

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      i still have yet to look up the DIY caskets…but I am going to. I am sure that I will hear some grumpy old man bitch about the cost of the casket and that he could make his own. I have had plenty of people say that they could just dig their own hole at the cemetery instead of paying opening and closing costs! the cemeteries here charge a fee for opeing the grave. so the least expensive O/C that i can think of off the top of my head is $995.00. thats alot. I had a family not too long ago that did not get along with the deceased. the funeral arrangements where pre-planned (pre-paid) for a direct cremation. but when the family came in they changed it and said they wanted some viewing because they needed closure. apparently the deceased was a mean rotten person. i would think just the opposite…i wouldn’t want any viewing. then they decided not to go the cemetery. again, i would have wanted to go just to see them put in the ground. just to make sure he/she was gone if they were such a horrible person!
      it’s hard to imagine NOT seeing snow. i know there are many many people who haven’t, and i know of many people who have moved to warmer states where they do not get snow and then say that they miss the different seasons. I am not fond of the cold weather, which by the way it did get cold again, like below freezing! and all the flowers, vegetables and fruits that have started growing will probably die…and that mean higher grocery bills this summer, anyway, i hate the really cold windy stuff, but when it snows it is so pretty. i love when the snow looks like there is are tiny sparkles in it…wish i had a pic of how it looks like that when it sparkles. i have plenty of snow pics but on the pic you can’t really see the sparkles. Im not so sure i could handle the tropical weather all the time, the humidity would get to me. i for one would love for it to be 67F ALL the time and just for Christmas have it snow.
      I have started my new job and so far so good, will post about it later or tommorrow.

  4. So today the Big Day, you’re outta that funeral home for good! Do you have anything special prepared – telling the boss off, laxative in the co-worker’s coffee (LOL). Are you going to do anything with friends and family to celebrate after?
    I know, the whole casket-as-a-coffee-table is just too weird for words. Not to mention funny. Even if you covered it with a table cloth, you’d still get the idea that it was a casket. Be a good party trick though with unwanted guests who would hang around though, put the coffee cup on the “table” then suddenly, thump, thump! from inside the “table”. Did you ever see that movie “death at a funeral”. Funny as. And storing the home made alcohol in them in the garage, imagine the grandkids coming over, what’s THAT Nanna! These are probably the same people who come to funeral homes and whinge about all sorts of things and give the staff a hard time.
    Have you ever heard of Eco Funerals? Apparently they’re the new “trend” over traditional funerals. My sister in the UK told me about them and I thought she was joking at first as she has a bizarre humour at times but apparently it’s true. Instead of a casket and being embalmed, the deceased is wrapped in a shroud and buried in a reserved bushland “tree cemetery” where instead of a headstone a tree is planted and the family receives a certificate of appreciation for assisting the environment. A week later, there was a news article here that there’s a tree cemetery in the next state from me that is becoming quite popular. Things never cease to amaze in this world. But yeah, the casket coffee table is a classic. LOL.

    Not at all, I don’t think you’re ignorant for not knowing about australia. We are far away and not a lot from other countries is known about us (the English still think they can dump their criminals here as they did over 200 years ago) and I have to admit I don’t know much about the US except news update we get and a lot of sitcom shows on TV depicting america but I guess a lot of that isn’t really true is it? Yes, we are a dry country, more so in the west and central areas but a majority of the population live along the coastlines with the east coast having most of the population. We can get dry weather on the coast but the past two summers we’ve had heaps of rain more than average and experienced storms, hurricanes (only in the northern end) and floods. We call hurricanes, cyclones, here, and I grew up in the north of the country before moving to the city 15 years ago. My home town is prone to cyclones every summer, not all of them hit, but occassionally they will and last year they got “the big one”. That’s the one where when I rang my dad, he was sitting by a glass window (shit flying everywhere outside) and having a cup of tea! I suppose they think they’re invincible when they’re older as my dad had two falls last year, the second wound him up in hospital with a head injury and when I told my sister, she just said if dad kept this up, her next visit here would be to plan his funeral instead of a reunion. What was your family’s reaction when you said you were working in the funeral industry? Were they shocked or okay with it?

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      Actually today is my last day!! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      I typically do not read/post/comment on my blog while at work, but today I am making the exception! I spoke with the boss yesterday, the boss who manages the employees, not the “other” one who I butt heads with and plays favorites!! I told him pretty much everything I needed to. He agreed with me for the most part, but when you have more than one business partner it is hard to have all of them in agreement about everything. I understand that. But like I told him, I just wanted him to be aware of the what the issues are and what they will continue to be even after I am gone. I have been with them for a long time and he knows that I am not just bullshitting. I told him, and he knows, that I don’t mind helping out when someone forgets to do something or screws something up, but when it happens ALL the time, then there is a problem. I don’t need to be patted on the back for doing my job, but when time and time again, “someone” else takes credit for it when they are the ones who initially screwed it up in the first place, you become ticked off and want the boss (bosses) to know what the situation really is! I know that I will still keep in contact with some of the employees and some of the bosses, there are no hard feelings except maybe with the one boss and the one employee. I will be seeing them all this summer at a couple of parties. The boss I spoke with about the problems, his daughter is getting married next month and I will be attending and one of the employees will be graduating college and will be having a party and everyone will be attending that as well.
      I have heard of the “eco” or “green” funerals. Not much of it going on where I am at. I think that may take sometime to catch on, around here anyway… The only thing with wrapping the deceased in a shroud and placing them in the ground is that here you are required to be in a casket and a vault. There are no ‘special’ places to bury anyone except a cemetery. I am not 100% sure of that, but I have not heard of anyplace like that. There is only one cemetery that I know of around here that does not require a vault. It is a small cemetery that has been there since probably the begining on time! lol! I have had only one burial take place there since working in the business. I think that I will have to do some research on that though…. see if there is anything like that around here or anywhere in the U.S. We do have Memorial Trees, you can purchase (or donate) and a tree will be planted in your name, it will have a plaque on it with your name. My family really didn’t seem too shocked when I started working in the funeral business. They just asked if it bothered me to be around dead people and to be around sad and depressed people all the time. But to be honest, it really isn’t all sad and depressing all the time. Most of the time during visitations you hear chattering and laughing, the actual funeral service is when everyone seems to be quite and sad, but I am usually busy trying to make sure all goes smooth and concentrating on what to do next. Waiting for everyone to pay their last respects, waiting for the family to say their good-bye’s and then closing the casket and then making sure the pallbearers are in order once we move the casket so they can carry it out to the hearse.
      Australia seems like it would be beautiful, from the things I have seen or read. Again I may be wrong, but the impression or in my mind I visualize a lot of un-touched land with lots natural habitation. You don’t really see much of that here. There are places that are beautiful in the U.S. that have remained un-touched and are natural wonders, that I would one day love to see myself. I have been to Mt. Rainer in Washington State. It is beautiful. I have been to Florida and seen the Wildlife refugee. I have been in the Smoky Mountains in Kentucky and Tennessee. But then I have also been to not such great places, where there are boarded up homes and buidlings and alot of crime. Traveling by plane is something that a lot of people would rather not do these days (due to 9/11). Security lines at the airports are long but I don’t mind because that means that they are doing what they are suppose to be doing to make sure everyone is safe.
      Where I live we really don’t get too bad of weather, no hurricanes. We do get some bad storms and tornadoes and depending on the winters, we have been known to get LOTS of snow and extremely cold weather, but anymore, the winters have been getting milder and milder. The summers have been hotter and more humid. Down south, like, Louisiana, Mississippi, they get the hurricanes, which I am sure you heard about Hurrican Katrina, that was devastating to say the least.
      But anyway…..Glad it is my last day. Nothing exciting planned. Its just a relief. I am sure I will feel like a weight has been lifted off my back once I step out the door today. I will be starting the new job Monday. Nervous and excited at the same time!

  5. A bit more on those DIY caskets. Some people wrote into the editorials to the sunday paper (I don’t know why I keep reading this paper, my $2 worth of news and a free tv guide. Gee I’m sad) Some one wrote that they built theirs and their wives caskets for less than $200 instead of paying $2000 through the funeral home, and currently until the “big event” comes round, the caskets are being used to store the home brew in the garage and some people they know also building their caskets are using them for bookcases and coffee tables….I’m sorry that’s just weird even for my liking. And get this, a woodwork class in my city even gets their students to build their own coffins as a project! Someone else wrote in and said when are funeral homes going to give us our rights to have a say as funerals are aimed more at the rich….what?! People have heaps of rights when it comes to choosing to have a send off. They just don’t do their research I reckon. Again, poor funeral homes getting a backlash.

    You’re exactly right, there’s the cost the fuel and the suppliers cost and maybe a sales tax as well (do you have a GST – general sales tax on a lot of items over there? It’s everywhere here.) I would imagine too that not all caskets are built of the same materials too, different wood materials would cost more. Some of the funeral homes here said in last weeks article said that they would accept a homemade casket as long as it was made correctly, so don’t know what people are whinging about.
    We got the news of the tornadoes on our news. Any of those bad ones near you? Top of my state is still in hurricane season, in fact there’s looming expecting to develop into a category 1. My home town up north has received a hell of a lot of rain, if I know my dad still there, if I ring him to say what’s the weather like, he’ll just reply oh just a drop or two! He said that the last time there was a category 5 about to hit and I’m the one 2000km freaking out down the phone, for god’s sake get supplies NOW! Turned out he was alright. Having his usual cup of tea while the winds howling outside and turning everything upside down. Parents, what can you do with them.

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      that is hilarious!!! use it to store some stuff out in your garage! wow! the coffee table…well…i dunno. i mean, some people like that look, maybe call it the “gothic” look but to actually have ‘your own’ casket as your coffee table, odd! so the conversation at christmas, easter, or just when you have company…”oh, what an interesting coffee table you have…is it a …..casket?” “why, yes it is, my casket as a matter of fact”. “huhhh, well, ok then….”. I wouldn’t want to set my cup on it thats for sure, for fear of leaving a ring! lol… I don’t see why we wouldn’t accept a DIY casket at our funeral home. We accept them from other places that we do not order from. some families order there caskets from cemeteries and have them delivered, we just won’t accept responsibility if it is damaged or unusable. I would imagine as long as it locked and had handles, then it would be fine. it doesn’t ‘have’ to seal. You can purchase a pretty decent casket from us for $580.00. I know that is more than the $200 to build your own, but then someone has to bring it to the funeral home when the time comes….so unless they know someone with a pick up or a van, then they are S.O.L. because we won’t pick it up. anyway….yes ,we have state sales tax. Some states are higher than others some are lower. ours is 6% on every $1.00. it is applied to all merchandise and some services. We do not charge sales tax on funeral services, but we do on the merchandise, such as a casket, vault, sign in book, prayer cards, flowers, marker, urn’s, acknowledgment cards, and clothing, things like that.
      yes, the tornados were near where i am at. they just missed us. thank God. or tornado season usually doesn’t start for a couple of months, but since it has been unseasonably warm, the atmosphere is just filled with moisture, it’s humid, not too humid, but humid nonetheless. it hit 80 today, which is a record! this time last year we had a couple of inches of snow on the ground and a snow storm still on the way! but, around here you never know…we could still get snow! and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit! it’s funny how parents are! your dad sounds like mine! my parents go to florida a couple of times a year and one year my dad called me and said that they were having some rain and storms and while he was laying on the beach he watched a water spout! i was like, uhhh, so you just layed there and watched it!?!?! so, will you see hurricanes in your area or are they only north of you? i am not too familiar with australia. i know this sounds ignorant, but when i think of australia, for some reason i think ‘dry’ …. or is it just like here, where some places have more rain than others? some places it snows? some places it is dry?

  6. Hey Bizz, sorry I didn’t back to you sooner. Thanks for the tips too, really appreciate it. I am going to look at some of our funeral suppliers too. I’m certainly not going to give up that’s for sure. There was an interesting story in our paper over the weekend about people wanting to build their own caskets to save money on their own funeral (seriously some people need lives I reckon. Can you imagine that? Honey, I’m just going to finish the casket in the garage!) And also hardware stores are getting orders of certain timbers to make them! What prompted these people was there is apparently no law here that can stop a person having a DIY casket as long as it meets requirements that the NFDA can supply with particular measurements and being airtight. This one guy mentioned in the article – sounds like a total whinger to me grumpy old git – said he’s doing his DIY casket and doesn’t want a grave stone or hearse because he doesn’t want the funeral homes getting one cent out of him. I thought to myself, what a dickhead! How does he think his body is going to be removed after he dies to get to his particular chosen private gravesite (it’s not in a cemetery either). A couple of mates chucking him in the back of a pick up truck? Either way, there’s going to be some cost getting him removed/buried, bugger his free home made casket. If he doesn’t go with the funeral homes the State and taxpayer will have to foot the bill. Have you dealt with people coming into the funeral home and saying they want to build their own casket?
    Oh boy when will this hot weather end! We’re in the first month of Fall now and still the days are like a bloody crematorium, regular temps of 34C (93F).

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      Doesn’t surprise me about the DIY caskets…I haven’t had anyone yet that wants to build their own…but i stress the “yet”! i wish people realized that we just don’t charge so much because we want to. we have to purchase items from suppliers who charge us, so we have to pay them! we have to make money somewhere along the line. also, there are so many factors when it comes to the cost, like the price of fuel. it cost us money to do removals, go get D/C’s signed or picked up and file them. the cemeteries around here charge an arm and a leg, but i am sure they are trying to make money too. i had a man come in the other day to get pricing for his mother who wants to pre arrange her funeral. he was looking at the caskets and then said something about the vaults. i showed him the vault on display, but told him that it was a higher cost vault and he was talking about a crb (concrete rough box), he saw that there where prices on them….so of course he says “YOU CHARGE for these!?!” i said yes and he said “something that is required to be buried and in my opinion not necessary, you charge people for…ridiculous!” again…i don’t make the laws. i told him if he preferred, go to the cemetery and discuss it and buy one from them! WHY wouldn’t we charge for it!
      yeah..i’d say you are having some HOT weather! We are still in winter, altho you would never know it! Our first day of Spring is on March 23rd or 24th…usually right now the highs are only in the 40′s and the lows usually 32 or below. It could still even snow…ALOT! I believe last year, the end of March, we had a pretty good snow storm. However…..the last two weeks it has been in the upper 60′s to mid 70′s! very very odd! i am sure that the cold is not gone tho…we usually do not get this warm until mid May. had some strong storms over the last few days as well…tornadoes and thunderstorms, hail…etc…not good! the flowers and fruits and vegetables are going to start growing and its going to get cold out again, and they are going to all die…then this summer guess what….the cost of fruit and veggis will be thru the roof!

  7. Admin Asst Says:

    Great answer. I agree with everything you said. It is very frustrating for the families and I do understand that it’s difficult to get things completed or moving ahead while waiting for the cause of death to be completed on a death certificate. Your response was great.

    I have a question for you too, (non d/c related LOL). Does your funeral home have a cash register or something like that on hand? The only reason I ask is because we do not have one. Sometimes families will pay for services with cash and sometimes it’s not the exact amount and we end up scrambling to make change for them. We do keep petty cash on hand but it’s a small amount so if we owe someone $40 or $50 in change back, we can’t do it. In those cases sometimes the directors will take change from their own pockets and I’ll reimburse them with a check.

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      thank you!
      no, we don’t have any register and usually don’t keep any cash/change on hand either. we do run into those issues as well. it would be nice if we did have a petty cash with maybe $100 so we could make change easy. we do the same, we take from our pockets and we get reimbursed.

  8. Hi I just happened to stumble upon your blog while google searching about death certificates. You might could possible give me a little advice. We are one of the families with a death certificate pending investigation. There are no questions regarding if foul play was involved. However my father was fairly young with no previous medical history. So an autopsy was preformed. It has almost six weeks and we still don’t know anything. I totally understand that it is not the funeral home’s fault. I know it is all in the medical examiner’s hands now. (and the medical examiner’s office is being less than helpful) We are in the state of Alabama and I know all laws are a little different, but we were told by the funeral home that we could order a few death certificates. However under cause of death it would say pending. The funeral home advised some people may accept that and other may not. In your experience would it be necessary for places like the banks, 401K, etc. to have the cause of death? I understand for insurance purposes that is important but the way I see it is regardless of how my father died the 401K money is still going to my mother (his wife and benificary). Am I correct in think that? Or should we just continue to be patient and wait on the amended death certificate that will include the cause of death. The only reason this is an issue is because my mother is on disability and not receiving much money right now and there are some loose ends with debt and things she would like to try to go ahead and take care of. If you could respond or email me back that would be so helpful. Thanks again!
    Brandy12291@hotmail.com

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      Hi Brandy, sorry you have to wait for the pending status to be lifted…. it is very frustrating for many families to have to wait. the medical examiner’s usually are not of any help either, as you stated. But even if the medical examiner has determined cause of death and has sent in the application to correct the death certificate (it is just called “being corrected” because technically the state (in your case alabama) has to correct it from “pending” and enter a cause of death where the actual word ‘pending’ is). So anyway, once the medical examiner sends the application to the state with the cause of death, it could possibly sit on someones desk for weeks until they get to it. once the state gets to it, it then gets forwarded to the city clerk where the death occured and where it will need to be filed. I’m not usre about alabama, but once the medical examiner sends that application to the state a letter is sent to the family and to the funeral home. once the funeral home receives that letter they will usually wait a week or two to start calling the city clerk where the D/C will have to filed at. once the city clerk has the amended copy the funeral home is then able to get the family the amount of D/C’s they want. it’s a long process even if there is no foul play involved. I guess it all comes down to how busy the medical examiner is and how busy the state is.
      but an answer to your question about who will accept a pending….well, it really depends. I would call the bank first to see if they will accept a pending. its more work but it will save you a trip. for life insurance, they will NOT accept a pending D/C. at least i have never had one that would accept a pending one. you can send in all the necessary paperwork to the life ins. co. like the claim form and anything else they require and send them a pending D/C but they will not submit the claim without a D/C with cause of death. But, it would speed things up once you are able to send them one. Also, i find that it just depends on the company you are dealing with. some credit card companies may accept a pending, but it has to be certified pending, or they will require an amended D/C but it can be a photocopy….it’s just pretty ridiculous. But like I said, it wouldn’t hurt to at least call the companies that you or your mom need to, because you never know…Im sorry i couldn’t be more help or more positive in telling you that some places will accept them. Also, if you do start to call around to see if someone will accept a pending also ask them if they will accept a photocopy or if it has to be certified copy, it will save you a lot of money in the long run. especially when those amended copies are available you will have a better idea of how many actual certified D/C’s you will need. it’s cheaper to make photocopies of the certified D/C than ordering a bunch and not end up using them all. Good luck and also, my sympathies to you and your family. I will also e-mail this to.

  9. Ha Ha LOL about that hearse going to the shop. That’s hilarious!! I’ve sent out my resume to a number of homes around my city as well as the memorial gardens/crematoriums (took your advice there too, thx!), so far some have come back with the usual, we’re not recruiting right now but keep your details on file, blah blah blah. In other words…but that’s just a reason for me to keep bugging them with follow up letters/emails. They’re not fobbing me off. The Home I really want to work at is the one who had the Open Day last year, they were fantastic and the Home just had a great atmosphere. Some of the staff I spoke to were just really easy going and I got along with them well. I did a follow up call to the boss but she wasn’t in so message was left, that was yesterday, and I also sent a polite letter. What else can you do really?

    I wouldn’t really classify telling the boss about your co-worker as tattling. She certainly is a problem and if you are leaving the home, then get him on the last day right before you leave and tell him about her. Being your last day, he can’t really do anything, but whether he still listens – he may not – but that’s his loss and he’s also lost an excellent employee in the process. I think once you’re gone and if they’re not replacing you (are they getting a new girl?) then in due course with no one else to blame, they’ll find out what she’s really like – a dumb tart! How was that funeral directors website by the way?

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      Have you asked or are the funeral homes even looking for maybe someone to clean? I only ask because if you can at least get your foot in the door and in my experience if you show interest in more work, they may let you fill in when someone calls off or if someone happens to quit. Just an idea. Another option, just an idea, if you could find out who the main suppliers are for caskets, vaults, or general funeral suppliers are and maybe find out if they are hiring too. Around here, the casket and funeral suppliers (prayer cards, register books, personalized funeral home items, etc..) have sales reps. and they come to the funeral homes and bring in new catalogs and sit and talk with the director and sometimes takes them out to lunch, stuff like that. You would get to know alot of people at the funeral homes and maybe eventually find one that is hiring….or you may end up enjoying being a rep??
      I’m not sure it they will replace me or not. They may just divide up my hours between the other girls. Who knows…! I talk with my boss about “everything” next week one day, not sure which day, but I will post when I do. I don’t consider it tattling, but the ‘other’ boss would consider it tattling. Thats just the way he is. A jerk! But I have everything wrote down that I want to go over with the one boss. Whether he/they listen or not is another thing…but I don’t care, because I won’t be there any longer!
      Thank you for posting that link to the website. It’s really not that much different from ours. Ours is NFDA.org, if you wanna check it out. Very similiar information on both. But thank you!

  10. I have to agree with other posters that your blog is a great help, in particular as I’m starting out in the funeral bizz so reading your entries has certainly allowed me to see what I’m getting myself into! And it’s certainly improved my confidence as well to work in a funeral home. Well done for getting your new job and I hope things work out better as you pretty much run that current funeral home and get very little credit for your work. (Just a thought with that co-worker still sucking up to the boss: if she’s still playing visitation hour with the bossl, that hearse might have to go into service soon for new shock absorbers soon!!)

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      Thank you Amanda! I’m excited that you are getting into the business!! Have you found a position yet or any leads? I know I bitch alot about work, but I do like my job, as I have said before, but it just gets to be hectic at times and overwhelming. I am looking forward to the new job!! I also put my 2 weeks in on Monday…and I will be meeting with the boss, the one who handels the hiring/firing…he’s pretty cool. The “other” boss though is going to be the one who won’t wanna hear shit about any problems….specifically a “certain” problem…. Now that you mention the hearse going in for service, it does seem like they take it alot to the shop already! lol

      • Admin Asst. Says:

        I know exactly what you mean about as much as we complain, we all love our jobs. They are just very demanding, stressful and there’s a lot of pressure. Plus, i think the funeral business is changing. There’s so much more to funerals now than there was say 30 or 40 years ago. One thing my boss says (he’s been doing this for 30 years) is that he is not so much a funeral director anymore but an event planner. In a lot of ways, he’s glad he’s getting closer to retirement.

        But overall, I do love working where I do, mostly because of the staff I work with. We all get along (sometimes we make each other crazy but we’re like family so it’s to be expected). And for every demanding family we have, there is always a great family who are so sweet and appreciative of all the work we do. I try to think of them when dealing with the other kind of families who are never satisfied with all that we do.

        I do wish you lots of luck at your new job. I can’t wait to read about your new adventure. :)

      • thefuneralbizz Says:

        That is such an excellent way of saying it “Event Planner”. Especially for the ‘younger’ people. They don’t want the Traditional 2 day with 3rd day being the funeral starting at the funeral home then to church then to cemetery. But, it is a very demanding job and very stressful….the families who are not so easy to work with make it even more stressful. There are those families who are so appreciative, so nice, thank you’s and compliments, etc… they do make up for all the bad ones. They are the ones that you remember and can actually sympathize with. There are those families, like the one I had yesterday for visitation and funeral today, that you can just not please no matter what you do. I shouldn’t say the whole family was like that just the sister of the deceased. Wasn’t happy with the way she looked, her makeup, her hair, her clothing (that she picked out!). But, what ya gonna do? Just gotta bite your tounge and move on….and hopefully the next family is nice.
        It is nice that you get along with your co-workers. I do get along with all of mine except the “One”, but to be honest no one really gets a long with her, they just put up with her…just like putting up with a pain in the ass family! I am sure that my new job will turn out to be for the best. I know the owner and the employees and they all seem to be nice….as of now…lol. I will post soon, I start March 21st! can’t wait!

  11. Oops sorry, maybe it didn’t go through. I’ll try again: http://www.nfda.com.au. Is your new job going to be an admin job as well or will it be more towards a funeral arranger/conductor?Please do a post when you tell them all what you really think! I’ think we’d all love to read that!!

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      thanks for posting the site…going to go check it out in a few minutes. The new job will be a little of both. Since I am not licensed I cant embalm so…. In my state you must have a Mortuary of Science License to embalm or own a funeral home. I do arrangements now, not just direct cremations anymore, all of them. I will be running the office, but it will just be me…I will handle all of the paperwork. All the ordering. All the accounts payable/receivable. The owner is very nice, have known him for a while. I knew of him for some time but never really were “friends” so to say but ran in to him not too long ago and we started talking and one thing led to another about work and here we are! He is just a couple of years older than I am. I will certainly blog when I tell my boss why I am quitting! I am pretty sure he will know why…but I just want to tell him/them what goes on now that I won’t sound like a tattle tale, even though she is!

      • AdminAsst Says:

        I hope you will keep blogging ager you start your new job :) This blog has really helped me deal with the increasing stress of my job at a funeral home. I don’t hate my job and I have wonderful co-workers and my boss rocks! It’s the outside stuff that gets to me, demnding families, juggling funeral home work (obits, filing d/cs, ordering CCs, checks, obits etc…) with regular office work (payroll, deposits, billing etc…). This blog really is a great place to vent because you and the other posters really know about working in a funeral home.

      • thefuneralbizz Says:

        Oh, I will definately still blog! I am sure I will still have plenty to bitch about. I still have to deal with the public, so, yeah… and I will have new co-workers, not too many people at this funeral home though, but when you work with others day in and day out, they are bound to get on your nerves! I am so glad that my blog has helped you…I find that when I write the things I do, it helps to releive the stress and I know that others feel the same way or close to the same way I do. The funeral business can be and, well….IS STRESSFUL! And not too many people think that being a funeral director or a secretary at a funeral home or even just a greeter at a funeral home is stressful, but it is. We are under deadlines all the time! So, if the phone is ringing and there is a family walking in for arrangements and I am trying to get a death cert. typed so the d/c person can go get it signed by the doc but there is a death notice that needs to be submitted by Noon…..well….what do ya do?!?!

  12. Do funeral homes in the US have to be registered under a funeral directors association? I’ve given the website to our association here so you can check out how we “do the dead” over here. What’s the news on the co-worker lately? Is she still “working” with you guys?

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      Yes, we have the National Funeral Directors Association and then each State has their own Directors Association.
      I really don’t see the other co-worker that often anymore…Thank God! I still have to deal with her screw-ups and put up with the ass kissing between her and the Director….I understand that Team work is important and we should all check each others work and that is fine and I do…but when she forgets times after time it gets cold. Also, I have not mentioned this but I am pretty sure that I may be switching jobs here soon. Just going to another Funeral Home. So, I haven’t been letting little Ms. Perfect get to me too bad. I have known about the other job for awhile now and will probably be leaving my current job in about 3 weeks. I am going to put my two weeks in probably next Monday. I am excited and have thought through this for over a month now. So…I am looking forward to giving my two weeks and when I do I am going to let them know exactly why I am leaving!I don’t see the website you mentioned in your post….I would love to check it out.

  13. That is tough how much you have to go through just get the d/c signed, then filed. You must pull your hair out sometimes. I feel for you.

    The funeral homes in our state file their own d/c’s. All we have to do is get them signed by a dr. Generally the hospice facilities, hospitals, nursing homes etc…will pronounce them then we take the d/c to the dr. to get signed. We have the same procedure as you with unattended deaths. The ME has to do the pronouncing and certifying.

    But no matter how quick the process is, people sometimes ask right off the bat “When can I get the death certificates?” We’ve had families call before we’ve even had the chance to pick up the deceased asking when they can get the d/c’s or how many they want. Just one time I would love to say “What’s the hurry? You can’t wait a few days until Aunt Mary’s services are over?” But obviously, I can’t say that, so I just say “We’re still waiting for the Dr. to sign it.” or, “We can’t file it until we meet with you and get the necessary information.”

    Like where you are, we can’t file the d/c until we have the necessary information, date of birth, SS#, parents names, state where parents were born, marital status etc…So really, we can’t do anything, even if the d/c is signed by a dr. until the family comes in to give us the other information.

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      It is just such a pain in the ass anymore to hunt down the doctor who will sign the d/c… Like if the patient was not really being treated for any illness and all the sudden one day he ends up in the hospital and sees maybe 2-3 doctors there and then for whatever reason passes away in the hospital, I would think that the doctor who was caring for him in the hosptial would be the doc to sign the d/c. But we have been getting such bullshit from these doctors lately, who say, he wasn’t my patient, I only seen him in the hosptial for a couple of days you’ll have to contact his primary doctor. Well…okay, who is his primary doctor!?! Then when once we find out that doctor, we’ll call there and he/she will say, well, i wasn’t treating the patient for that, so, I don’t know the cause of death why would I sign it, it should be the doctor who was caring for him at the time of death! I go around in circles half the time anymore! I bet if these doctors were getting paid for signing a d/c we wouldn’t get so much slack! Then the family is on our ass about them. Then if it is cremation, the deceased is probably hanging out in our prep room or the crematory until we can get a signed d/c so we can get authorization from the medical examiner to approve the cremation! Then when we keep calling the doctors office, if we had to just drop the d/c off, to see if it has been signed and ready to pick up the doctors staff start getting bitchy that we keep calling! Well, ya know, if it was your loved one just laying around at the crematory inside a cardboard box waiting for a doctor to sign his name on a d/c I bet you would be pretty pissed off too! Thats what I want to say to them when they give me shit. But, like you, I have to keep my mouth shut! and it sucks!

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