Don’t tell me, I will tell YOU…
so apparently lots of people think they are funeral directors these days. especially those people who are at our funeral home because a loved one passed. I cannot stress enough that the day of your funeral service, WE/YOU are on a time schedule! Things are “scheduled”!! So, this does NOT allow time for BS because someone is running late. I mean, if its 5-10 minutes, no big deal, but “oh, aunt Suzie will be here in 45 minutes, we will just wait until then…” is NOT an option, and I can’t stand when people come to me and tell me that shit and in such a matter of fact tone! I’m sorry that aunt Suzie is running late, but the clergy that you have here probably has another service or personal business to attend to after your funeral. the cemeteries schedule services every 15-30 minutes, sometimes only allowing for one funeral at a time, depending on the size of the cemetery! so if we are running behind…guess what? we are going to screw up the WHOLE day at the cemetery! you are NOT the only family in the area that has a funeral today! same thing at church, if you are going to church before cemetery……….they also have a schedule. and what about your luncheon? the restraunt where you are going or hall, etc…..they also have schedules to keep. the hearse and the driver, the limo and the limo driver…..they all have other places to be after your service! we can’t just sit and wait! and if you plan on giving the people who attend the service an opportunity to speak at the service, then PLEASE let us know that you plan on doing that, because that takes up a lot of time! I know that it is difficult when we are closing the casket and you have decided to watch……but really, once we close the casket there is really not reason to just stand around and stare at the casket or to just stand around talking to one another……or go up to the flowers and start discussing which ones so and so are going to take…..that can wait until you come back to get them! again we are on a schedule!!!! same thing with getting into your vehicles once the casket is being loaded into the hearse! the immediate family may watch, but if there are a lot of people standing around, it is holding us up. get into your cars, turn your bright headlights on and WAIT until you are told to go! also, when you come in for your viewing, your first day, and we ask if you have any questions or if there is anything else you need and you say “yes, I/we need ‘fil in the blank’. GIVE US A FEW MINUTES to get it done for you! we are not magician’s! can’t just pull this shit outta my ass! however, I wish I could, so I wouldn’t have to listen to you bitch or talk to others in my earshot so I can hear you complain that you asked for whatever over 10 minutes ago! or come to me and say “I asked for **** and still haven’t got it. I did not forget! and I am working on it! if you want a special sign placed by the sign in book, maybe for a luncheon afterward and you want people to check off next to their names if they will be attending or not, and you want the actual place of the luncheon on that sign….well, guess what…….I have to actually make that sign. I don’t have a drawer full of signs with every restaurant, hall, etc!
Oh….and a simple “Thank you” goes a LONG way! You don’t have to go on and on, just say “Thank you”! before leaving when you come to pick up your flowers afterward. Also when coming to pick up those flowers, can you just take the freaking things home and then pull them apart? the family the other day pulled so many arrangements apart and left a mess all over the carpet, including dirt! THANKS! and NO, we do not take left over arrangements to hospitals or nursing homes. we do have someone who we can call that will come get them. but as far as taking large arrangements to nursing homes or hospitals, typically they do not allow us or anyone to come and bring flowers in like that. altho it is a nice gesture, a lot of the rooms do not have room for large arrangements, who knows if someone in the room is allergic, etc….. so when we say no, and tell you why…….it really pisses me off that you think I am bullshitting you and you stand there and say so smugly that you will do it then………go right the fuck ahead. then when you get there, I would love to be able to overhear the nurses tell you they can’t accept them!
Thank you cards do NOT have to be sent to everyone who signed your register book! you only have to send them to people who sent something, flowers, food, etc… someone who may have stopped by your home to say how sorry they are to hear of so and so passing, only to those who actually did something other than just show up.
again, if you don’t ask me or tell me that you need something, I cannot read your mind! if you are running low on prayer cards, then SAY SO! I hate hate hate when I overhear the family bitching about something, when it could be so easily fixed! I cannot possibly stand inside the chapel next to the register book to make sure you are not out of prayer cards! I check often, or the person who is greeting that day will check often, but if you run out and you see that people are coming in and the prayer cards are not being replenished, then say something! all you have to do is come to the office or if you see an employee someplace say “excuse me, do you think we could get some prayer cards to put out, we have run out them.” SEE! wasn’t that easy! but, most people would rather just stand around and bitch! just like if you need more coffee made. just freaking ask! if you need the heat/air turned up, just ask!
when it comes to preparing a body for viewing it is not the easiest task. many families want their loved one to look like they did when they were living. well…….without being too unsympathetic, they will never look like they did when they were living, sorry. we can try out best to make them look…..’good’. but we aren’t God. We aren’t magicians. If your Aunt, Grandma, Sister, etc….never wore makeup……she is going to now!! I don’t mean that we are going to throw a bunch of pink blush and some blue eye shadow on her, I just mean that makeup is a NECESSITY! Also, when most people pass on they pass on because they have been ill. So they already look bad….sorry…… so we can’t possibly make their hair or skin look as it once did. We always ask that families bring in a photo of their loved one so we can see how they looked. The photos that are brought in are usually ones where the deceased look nice, good, healthy, which is fine. But sometimes during an illness people lose hair, or their hair thins out. They have lost weight. There skin is pale, yellow, greyish, etc. Or….a lot of times, the deceased is bloated. Maybe their illness made them bloat, but they were never like that when they were healthy. It is very hard to try to explain to a family that they will look a little bloated for viewing. Seeing someone who was usually very thin and now very bloated I think is harder on the family then the opposite. Also, it is quite hard to explain to families of loved ones who has a lot decomposition. That is when alot of makeup comes into play. But, their is nothing we can really do about it. We try our best to explain to the family why so much makeup. Also, when the funeral home tells you to bring in clothing and we stress that we need something long-sleeved and high neck it is because of marks on the arm. Maybe the deceased was in the hospital and they had IV’s hooked up and had a lot of blood drawn, these marks on the body. Also high neck, well, basically for the same reason but also because that is where the embalmer will do there work. I had a family complain the other day that they did not like their Aunts hair. In the picture they brought in the woman had very BIG hair. Old lady hair, if you know what I mean. We/the hairstylist did her best. She really did work hard on her hair, I was there and she commented to me that she really didn’t know if she could make the lady’s hair that BIG. After she was finished she thought she did a good job and so did I. It wasn’t as big as in the photo, but again, the womans hair had thinned out quite a bit from the time of the pic till time of death. Well, the family said she looked bad. And asked if something could be done. The Director really tried to fluff it up, but explained to the family that her hair is not what it once was. I don’t think the family believed it. I over heard one of the women there say they could have done a better job and she isn’t even a hair stylist. Well…….then you should have done it then. I sometimes wonder why people think that their loved one will “not look dead”. I have been asked that questions several times during arrangements. Or I have been asked how I think they will look. There has been a time or two that myself and the other Director has had to tell the family straight out, “he/she is dead”.
For those of you with life insurance policies. If the death certificate is pending, the Life Ins. Co. will NOT accept a pending death certificate. I cannot send in a policy with a pending death cert. We have to wait for the amended copy. Once we receive that amended copy, then we will send in the insurance assignment. So, you saying forget it, I will do it then……..well, you really aren’t going to get any further than we would! MOST Insurance companies want this: Claim form, signed by the beneficiary, the original life ins. policy (if available, if not available, then some companies require a letter stating why there is no original policy, such as, you can’t find it, it was destroyed, etc.), a certified copy of the death cert. with cause of death listed on it. Now, when it comes to who the beneficiary is, if it is not listed on the policy that you bring to me, the insurance company will typically NOT give that information to me! It has to do with the privacy laws. Sometimes the ins. co. will tell me that they will let the family know if they call them, or usually they will, what they call, research the policy for beneficiary information, and send a letter to the beneficiary. Once the beneficiary receives that letter then the beneficiary should contact us and let us know. Once we have that information that person MUST come to us and sign the assignment form and claim form, so we can mail in the claim. If we already know who that person is while the family is there, then I will type up all the info needed and have the beneficiary sign all necessary documents while they are our funeral home, so they do not have to make a special trip back to us to sign papers. However, depending on the ins. co. some will NOT fax us a claim form, but will only mail it to us. Sometimes we are able to go online and print the claim from that ins co’s website, but in the case where they will only mail it, well, we have no choice but to wait and have the beneficiary come back in to sign. Sometimes even the ins. co. will ONLY mail the claim forms to the beneficiary, in that case once he/she receives that claim, they have to bring it in to us and we will show them where to sign. But, to get back to pending death certificates, as I have bitched about before, we have NO control over! NONE! we have no control over how quick the death certificate gets amended. Maybe in smaller communities it doesn’t take so long, but in large cities, like ours, it takes a long time………usually. I’m talking 4 weeks to 6 months, in some rare cases even longer. Even once the death certificate has been amended, we have to wait until the appropriate city clerks office receives it, once they receive it, then we can go get it! If the family feels they have been waiting too long, yes, I usually get a phone call from someone bitching at me. The only thing I can do is tell them to contact the medical examiner themselves, and guess what……..the medical examiner is not a happy person! if you catch him on a good day, well, your lucky, usually the medical examiner is extremely busy! So, you are going to call me bitching that the amended death certificate is not done yet, I am going to explain to you the process, which we have ALREADY explained to you, you are not going to want to believe that I have NO control over it, I am going to tell you there is nothing I can do and if you cannot accept what I am telling you then you will have to contact the medical examiner. Then, you are going to call the medical examiner and he is going to tell you the exact same thing I just told you! This has happened to me at least 20 times in just the past, oh, I’d say, 4-5 years. If we lived in a place that was small and not near a major city….with a lot of crime!! then you would probably get your amended death cert. within a matter of days.
Obituaries – there are deadlines to be met. If you want an obit in the local paper, we have to submit it to that paper by a certain time. If you want it in the major paper, they too, have deadlines. It also costs quite a bit as well. We don’t charge extra for this. We charge you whatever the paper charges. We just add that charge to the funeral bill. If you don’t want it on the funeral bill then it can be a separate charge but we still cannot give you price until the paper calls us with a read back. They will call us once they receive the notice and give us the charge. They will also call and read the notice back to us to check for mistakes. This is one reason we have the families read over the death notice that we type up while they are at the funeral home making their arrangements. Too many times families try to blame us for mistakes in the death notice, maybe someones name was spelled wrong, the family reads it and notices the mistake and they are mad about it, so they figure we are the ones who did it, so why do they need to pay for something that was screwed up. Well…if you looked over the death notice while you were at the funeral home making your arrangements and “OK’d” the notice then we are NOT at fault! But may times families, for some reason, can’t make up their minds about how they want the death notice to read. So they want to wait and think about it or go over it with other family members that are not with them. Well….we tell you, we only have until such and such time, so why is it they become “upset” with US if their notice cannot make it into tomorrows paper? Then we have to sit and hear how if it doesn’t get put in tomorrow paper then no one will know when so and so’s visitation and funeral is! Well, sorry, what you want me to do, call the paper and tell them to push back the deadline? I have had people ask us to call and see if they can wait a few more minutes…..I mean, for real people?!?!?! The world does not revolve around only you, believe it or not!