life working at a funeral home…positive??


okay….so i do realize that i bitch non stop. i usually don’t have anything positive to say. but, really, this is the place that i come to “complain”. i just usually don’t write about anything positive. so, maybe i will once post something positive. here goes……..

I “do” like the work I do. I do like helping those in time of need. Making sure that all goes smooth so they do not have to worry about anything! When the family comes to you after all is said and done and they thank you for doing such a wonderful job and everything was beautiful and they didn’t have to worry about a thing, it does make you feel really good and appreciated! I love those days when the family comes back after their luncheon to pick up their flowers and keep going on and on about what a great job we did. I enjoy that part of my job, when I am working making sure that all is complete all is done and taken care of, it is a sense of satisfaction. When the family contacts me the day before and asks me questions and I am able to say “nothing to worry about, it’s all taken care of!”

But…….and you all knew there was a “but”, right? I don’t necessarily bitch about the actual work I have to do on my blog. I know my work, I know what I am doing I know when I am supposed to do it, etc…..

If I worked in the retail business, say I worked at a clothing store, I am sure I would be bitching about the people (customers) in that field as well.

In the funeral business, it is time sensitive. So, if things are not completed on time……than, there is trouble! If someone doesn’t contact the cemetery on time, well, then someone isn’t going to be having a funeral that day! Most of the cemeteries around here need at least 24 hours notice. The newspaper, for death notices, they have deadlines, so if someone doesn’t contact the newspaper, someone isn’t getting their death notice in the paper on the day they wanted. Flowers, if the family orders their flowers thru us, and we don’t fax or call in the order on time…..well….you  know. There are alot of other things as well, like ordering the casket, the vault, etc. There are also those things that need to be done in office, such as prayer cards/folders, name boards, those items need to be done as well and done right, they must have the correct spelling, if the spelling is incorrect then it makes us look incompetent.

So when I complain about families changing things, it changes all the above. I also complain alot about death certificates. For some reason people think that these death certificates are the most important thing. I realize that people have legal matters to tend to. But they take time and we do our very best to try to get them done as soon as possible. However, we are not only working on just one death certificate at a time. We may have between 2-10 death certificates at any given time. It involves getting the deceased doctors information (finding out who will be signing the death certificate), typing of the death certificate, funeral director must sign as well, calling the doctor to find out when we can come get the death certificate signed (and at that time the doctor will fill in the cause of death), then we have to take it to the appropriate city clerks office (not all death certificates are filed at the same place) then once at the city clerks office they make the appropriate amount of copies of the “certified death certificates” that the family ordered, and then bringing the amount of certified death certificates back to the office and giving it a once over (double checking to make all info is correct) and then calling the family to let them know that they are ready, if the family has yet to have their viewing then we would just keep them in the office until they come in. We can also mail them to the family if they have already had their viewing and services or if it was a direct cremation. So, it involves alot, plus travel time. And remember, there is usually more than one death certificate being done. The person doing the death certificates may have had to go to several different doctors offices and city clerks offices. Traffic, waiting, etc. Sometimes, the funeral home may even be waiting on them to be completed because we may need one for an insurance assignment and with an insurance assignment we usually need to send a certified copy along with the other paper work. 

It’s a hard business, especially when you see young people who have passed, either from being ill or senseless matters, such as suicide, drugs or murder. It sucks. And you see the family trying to keep it together and others who only fight with each other. Sometimes the family tried to put the funeral home in the middle of their problems and we cannot do that. It also sucks when you have someone who passes away who had been married for 60 some years and you see that spouse just lost without the other. Just recently we had a woman pass away, her and her husband had been married for 64 yrs!! They had 3 children. They actually live in my own mother and fathers neighborhood. Well, 3 days later the husband died. It wasn’t suicide, he wasn’t ill. Never had any heart problems at all, until 3 days after his wife of 64 yrs passed. When I came into work that morning and received the call that the funeral home received the call the evening before that he had passed, I was just so sad. Later when the family came in, they were not crying, they were in good spirits, but they were upset! The son even said “we may look and be joking around right now, but we really don’t know how to act right now, we are just trying to deal with this minute by minute.” It makes you think for a minute about how important the people in your life are. At any given moment someone you love could be taken away from you. How sad that he passed away of a broken heart and that is what I truly believe. I can only hope to know that kind of love. I hope that they are reunited and together forever now. I have tears in my eyes right now. Although, I have not spoke to the family since, it was a direct cremation for both the husband and wife. I wonder how things would have been if the wife passed first. I hear of that often, when one spouse passes the other is soon to follow. I also find it hard when a mother looses her child at birth or soon after. I have had several cases just like that. usually they are cremations. I believe I have only had one service (with embalming and viewing) for a 1 month old. Most of the time, when we receive the cremated remains of the baby, and we contact the family, it is always the father of the child who comes in to pick up the cremains. I can’t imagine how hard it is for the mother. Then we have had a few services for children who had been on the news due to their death being either an accidental shooting, etc….and the people who call us to find out information and those who feel they are “entitled” to know certain things. That is when I get angry. We had the news channel calling asking us questions. First off, they should know better! This is a child we are talking about! It makes me sick.

So, all of these things affect me day in and day out at my job. It feels good to get out my “rage” when I need to bitch. I think everyone knows how people can be. And like I have said before, not even at work but out and about. People driving, people at the grocery store, etc. I am by far old, but I still expect people to use manners! I feel jipped when people don’t say “thank you” or “excuse me” because I do! If I am driving behind someone who is going under the speed limit, why is the guy behind me riding my ass?!? I can only go as fast as the person in front of me! Why when you see someone behind you coming in the door do you just let go and let it slam in that person’s face! It happened to me yesterday going into the hardware store, some man, maybe in his 20’s walking in front of me, and yes he saw me, he gets to the door first, opens and instead of holding it open for a “second” or just pushing it open a little more, NO, he just walks in.

Another thing…..as far as limo’s go. They are NOT included with the funeral charges. A limo is an extra charge. Just as the prayer cards, sign in book, casket, etc… We get so many families who are confused when they ask us when will the car pick us up? What? Well, if you want a limo, you must pay for one. It is not included.

State assistance. Many Many Many people get confused as to what the State will pay. The State WILL NOT pay for the funeral! They will pay toward it. And it is only a certain amount. The same amount for everyone. It does not depend on if that person was on social security or not. It doesn’t depend on if that person had no money. They will pay so much for a burial and so much for a cremation and that’s final! We, the funeral home, have no say in what the State will pay. The only thing we do is prepare documentation for the family to take with them to the State office. We cannot do it for you, you MUST physically go to the office and apply. If you are denied, then you are denied. If you are approved, then wonderful! If you are applying for someone, they can have NO assets, not even $5 in a savings or checking, do not own a home, etc. If they do, the State will find it and deduct that from what they will pay if they pay at all! I have had so so many families come in for arrangements and one of the first things they will say is that they heard if you have nothing the State will pay for the funeral. It is hard to have to explain to them that they do not pay for the whole thing. There is misinformation out there and people come to us with the wrong info and then become aggravated with us when we tell them that is not true. I have had people tell me they did not believe I knew what I was talking about. Same for veteran benefits. Those benefits that are paid to the family do not come until after the funeral. Except the headstone, IF buried at a National Cemetery. Same with social security, there is only a one time death benefit paid to the family and that also comes after the funeral. Although it would be nice if this money was available to the family to help in assist in paying, but unfortunately it is not. I feel for the families but at the same time, I find it hard to explain it to them and when they get frustrated or angry, I can’t help but feel a bit defensive because they are going thru a hard time and take it out on us. Not all families, but some. Same with insurance assignments. If we are doing an insurance assignment for the family, which means, the deceased has a life insurance policy and the family is using that policy to pay for the funeral, we contact that insurance company to make sure that the policy is good and that there is enough funds to cover the cost of the funeral. The insurance company tells us what they need from us, usually it consists of the certified copy of the death certificate, a claim form, and assignment form signed by the beneficiary or beneficiaries a copy of the funeral contract (when the ins. co requires a claim form, some companies will fax us one but others will only mail it , which takes time). So, we gather all this paperwork and mail it off to the insurance company. We know that we will be waiting at least a few weeks, sometimes a few months to receive that payment. SO…sometimes there is extra money on that policy, and that extra money goes to the beneficiary. That money will be mailed directly to the beneficiary or beneficiaries. We do our best to explain this to the family. So many times the family calls us to find out where their money is. Again we explain that we do not receive their portion. That it will come to them. If we have already been paid, then we will let them know, if we haven’t then I will let the family know that we to are still waiting. I have had families come back to the funeral home to ask what is going on and why haven’t they or us received payment. I have to tell them that I cannot answer that for them. The funeral home knows it takes time. That’s all. We are waiting just like you are. I have had families call me just days after the funeral asking if we have received payment yet, even after explaining to them just days before that it will take a few weeks before we receive anything. Also, if someone close to you passes away and has an insurance policy they will have a beneficiary named on that policy. Just because you took care of that person for years and they wanted you to have everything after they pass, then make sure that they know who the beneficiary is on their life ins. policy.  Because once they pass there is nothing that can be done about it. Whoever is listed as the beneficiary will be the one who we need to sign the paper work no if’s and’s or but’s about it. it doesn’t help to yell at us and tell us that you have been his caregiver for the last 10 yrs and you are supposed to be getting anything left over. As much as I may believe you, the insurance company doesn’t care. And even though this isn’t a great big deal, but I have been bitched at by at leat 2 people about this. When you make a DVD for a presentation at the viewing and you bring it in and it doesn’t work, there is nothing I can do about it. Sorry. Sometimes they just don’t work. I always tell people if you are going to make one, please bring it in ahead of time to see if it will play on our DVD player because not all of them will. It is something with the CD. Same goes for music, if you are making your own CD of music, I again suggest you bring it in beforehand because it may not play on our CD player. And once again, nothing I can do about it. If you are bringing in pictures, if you make picture boards. I only have a few easals. I do not have 6 of them for you!! Same with extra tables for food. We do not encourage so much food to begin with, but I only have one extra table.  Cemetery fees are separate from our fees. Even if you loved one has a grave already, chances are you will still have to pay opening and closing costs, which are usually over $900. So, again, one thing that I find people do not understand. When we give you a total of our costs, it does not include the cemetery charges, you MUST go to the cemetery, especially if you still need to purchase a gravesite. You can purchase a vault thru us or most cemeteries will offer one that you can purchase thru them. I have heard that some cemeteries will offer a discount package if you purchase thru them. So, just extra costs to keep in mind.

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