Life working in a funeral home – tip of the day & stuff


Tip of the day for May 24, 2012

Tip of the Day

DON’T be a jerk!

On to other ‘stuff’…………………First and foremost. We are here to HELP YOU! That is our job. We are not here so you can be rude to us. I know I have said it before….but….I will say it again. We know that you have just lost someone. We know and understand that you are going through one of  the most difficult times you will go through in your life. BUT, that does not give you the right to be/act like a complete asshole! Not to us, not anyone for that matter! It does not excuse you from behaving like a civilized human being. Does not excuse you from using common sense (altho, a lot of people do not have common sense at any point). Little things like saying ‘thank you’, ‘please’, etc….are still something you should practice using while going through this difficult time. For some reason I have found that over half of the people who I have dealt with tend to turn into rude, obnoxious, demanding, and argumentative people when they are trying to plan a funeral. I believe that part of this comes from the way they are thinking, like, ‘oh, I just lost someone so everyone/everybody MUST be nice to me’ and/or  feeling as if they are being taken advantage of when it comes to cost. I can clearly see why. Funeral are expensive. Very expensive. Families tend to blame the funeral home for “making” them pay such high prices. For one, it is no secret that funerals are expensive. Two, we aren’t ‘making’ you do anything. Understandably, state law (my state anyway) requires a funeral director to handle the deceased and any viewing and burial/cremation and death certificates, but this is the law, not the funeral homes rules. If it were not required by law for a funeral home to handle this, than you would obviously have other choices…But, as it stands, unfortunately you do not. When a loved one passes away, you have several options available to you. Most people do not know this. But, most people do not stray too far from the “traditional” funeral. Most families want what they are accustomed to. However when money becomes an issue, it is advised to think outside of what the “traditional” funeral is. Now, I have had my fair share of those families who come in and claim that they “do NOT have ANY money”, so they say “we do not have ANY money, so what can you do for us”? I usually cringe upon hearing this. NOT because I think any less of the family just because they do not have a lot of money. NOT because I think we will not be making any money off of the family. But because typically I have found that those who do not have the financial capabilities to pay for a “traditional” funeral are the families who usually want it “all” , the elaborate funeral without the cost. It would be wonderful if everyone could have a grand send off, if that is what the deceased wanted, the finest of caskets, the biggest and most beautiful flowers, the limo’s, etc…..But, it doesn’t always work that way, some people do not want any of that. You do not need to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to have a nice funeral. You do not need to purchase the finest casket. The casket will be viewable for only a short time and most of the time that casket is in the chapel with a spray on top which covers a majority of the casket anyway. The other half is open. Then, it is buried. I do not think most people think of that when they are deciding on which casket to purchase. So, anyway, when you have limited funds, please consider doing less traditional options. Because when you tell us you have no money but then start asking for this and that and of course we are going to tell you that it will cost this much or that much, suddenly the family becomes irritated with us. When we also explain that we expect half down now and the rest in 2 weeks or a month or, 2 months (and that is ONLY if we are working with you and approved by the owner) half means half of the TOTAL bill. When you start adding things on, then that ups your bill. So, you owe us more. It is also not the funeral home who requires you to purchase a vault for burial. It is the cemetery. We offer them for you to purchase through us, as well as the cemetery. You may certainly go to the cemetery and purchase one. Many times we have suggested purchasing the vault at the cemetery because if you have to purchase property at the same time, they usually have discounted packages available. So, when you ask us what we can do for you since you have no money, do not expect us to say that you can have a traditional funeral for a low-cost. It doesn’t work that way. If you say something like “well, that’s kinda high, we really don’t want to go anyplace else, but we may have to go see what so and so funeral home will do it for, we’ve always come here though, but…..” We are not going to stop you from going. Of course we want you to stay with us! But, knowing that we just gave you the lowest possible price we could, I cannot go any lower. And believe me, when we get a family like that, we ALWAYS go the lowest we can. I am sure there are other funeral homes that just say they are going as low as they can, but really, we are actually going the lowest we can. This is where the ‘jerk’ in most people come out! Just for instance. If your loved one was a veteran and you want a veteran’s service, the norm is to make a donation to the veteran’s who have taken the time and came to the funeral home or cemetery to honor your loved one. They are very serious about what they do. They are professional and have the utmost respect for the fallen vet they are there to honor. So, why would you question why a donation is asked for? Wouldn’t you want to donate something for all these men/women have done for you and what your loved one has done for you? The typical donation is $100. For someone who has little money, that seems like a lot. To me it’s even a lot. I don’t usually just have $100 in my wallet to give away. BUT, if it came to something like that and it is something that I requested, than I would certainly find a way to donate that money to them, they risked their lives for us. They use that donation for uniforms, equipment, fuel for traveling to the funeral home and or cemetery and taking the time out of their day to honor your loved one, their fallen compadre. I recently had a family who was just appalled at donating to the local vet’s. The way they thought about it was why would they expect to get paid for something they “should be doing”? Really? People have such different ways of viewing things. One family wanted a photo of their loved one printed on their prayer cards. Well, we charge extra for that. Of course they asked why on earth would that make a difference? Just something else to charge them for? It takes more to print more! More ink. Different printer. More work. Same for a sign in/register book. We have different types. The more elaborate the book , the higher the cost. The smaller plain books cost less… why? well, we have to order these books from our supplier. We pay for them when we order them. So, based on the price we are charged, we in turn charge so we can make a profit….just like ANY other business. We are not hiding any charges from you either. We itemize everything we charge you. We are required by law to itemize those charges for you. We are required by law to give you a General Price List as well. At any time anyone wants to see our charges, all they have to do is walk in our funeral home and ask for a price list, no questions asked, and we will happily hand you one, and it is yours to keep. But….the more you want, the more it is going to cost….just like anyplace else. It is not a conspiracy against anyone that funerals cost a lot…! This is something that is known by most everyone! It is a wise choice to use a Life Insurance Policy if you have one to pay for the funeral cost. Also, even better, Pre Plan! Yes, you must pay now for later however, you will be saving money in the long run…. When using that life insurance policy though, we have to make sure the ins. co. accepts an assignment otherwise you will have to complete the claim yourself and most funeral homes will not wait for payment. If you are doing it yourself, then that insurance check is coming directly to you, not us. So, who is to say that when you receive that check you are going to pay us…? We have had this happen so we no longer do it. If we take care of it, we fill out all the paperwork for you and send everything in, our assignment is made out ONLY for the amount of the funeral bill so anything above and beyond that amount will be mailed directly to the beneficiary or beneficiaries. We explain this families all the time. But yet I still get families calling to see where their money is! We also tell families that it can take several weeks for us to receive payment, so, more than likely it will be several weeks before they will receive payment. How many times have families ‘told’ me to speed up things because they need that insurance money…Hmmm, well, here’s the thing…I do NOT have any control over how fast or slow the insurance companies work. I really can’t imagine calling up the ins. co. and telling them “oh and by the way such and such family would like you to speed things up because they really need this money”. Somehow I don’t think they would, for one, ‘speed things up’ and two, even give a shit if you need the money or not! When I get families like that, I tell them they need to call the ins. co. themselves. I always mail out the insurance paperwork on my end no later than 2 days after getting everything filled out and all the signatures needed. Once in a great while I will have to delay sending them out if we are waiting for a D/C to be signed and filed, but that usually doesn’t happen. Then, I always mail them certified mail.

So basically what I am trying to say is that everything is our fault. People/Families always think there is ‘someone’ to blame…no matter what. But, please stop and think for a moment before you treat someone bad. Just because you have lost a loved one does not give you the right to treat others like crap! So, don’t be a jerk! Don’t bitch about little shit! If our parking lot is full and you had to park on a side street or a block over or wherever…why would you come in and start complaining to us? How is this normal behavior? Our parking lot can only be so big….

Quick note… DO NOT call a funeral home when you are looking for a phone number to another business. Do NOT call a funeral home when you need directions to someplace. We are NOT the phone book! We are a funeral home. Why do people call a funeral home to ask if we have the number to other places (that are NOT related to the funeral home)? Or directions to someplace? I’m lucky to find my way home everyday and you are asking me for directions? Good God!

 

14 Responses to “Life working in a funeral home – tip of the day & stuff”

  1. Speaking of cheap funerals, I had to LOL watching a preview for a Simpsons episode over the weekend about the old grandad wanting an expensive funeral but clearly his son not willing to part with the money and the director has given them an alternative of being thrown to the wolves in the forest behind the Home. And on saying this the wolves are waiting at the funeral home window.
    Satirical comedy…I love it.

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      LOL….would have liked to seen that episode. kinda reminds me of alot of families we get. dealing with a ROYAL pain in the ass family right now. i am NOT looking forward to going into work today! AT ALL! Thought for sure last week I was going to have a nervous breakdown because of them. Hopefully today will go better…their funeral is this morning.

  2. Oh Bizz, really??? I just can’t get my head round the fact that people are scrutinising the cost of your services when it is up to THEM what they feel they want to remember THEIR loved one. It’s pretty obvious, the more you ask for, the more it will cost. I just wouldn’t even think about questioning the cost of your services. What a cheek!

    There is one thing that is for certain in this life and that is that you WILL need a funeral. People save for holidays, new cars and other crap they don’t really need but your funeral at some time WILL happen. I know that the ins policy I took out around 3 years ago will pay my husband a handsome some. I need to check if this can be used to pay my funeral expenses. Hey, I’m not saying I am perfect, but you have taught me well Bizz. But I know that with this sum of money in mind, whenever it can be payed, services can be payed for. WITHOUT QUESTION!!!! Hahaha.

    This brings me onto your other comment Bizz… Families asking for the insurance company to hurry their payments because the family need the money… How f*!&ing disrespectful can you get!!! What goes on in their head?? “Oh I wish Uncle Burt would pop his clogs then I can buy this, that, and even more sh!t I don’t need.”…”Oh I suppose we better look like we are a really caring family so we’d better have this, that, the other for his funeral..but hang on you mean you want paying for all the time it takes to prepare him for visitation, taking him to his resting place, sorting out the paperwork, the casket/urn that someone had to make, the books taht you as a business have already payed for…and it’s how much?? But I wanted to buy this seasons Gucci handbag and go to the Seychelles first class…. I’m a selfish pig who has no respect for the person who has passed or the professional people who want to do their job” Trouble is, I’m probably not far wrong. Dumb asses!!

    Sorry for ranting but i hope it made you smile.

    Thought of the day:- Lust and greed are more gullible than innocence.

    Take care Bizz and Illegitimi non carborundum.😉

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      yes! you did make me smile, then when i read ‘hope i made you smile’….i laughed! thank you! and you are dead on with your impression! i actually had a family today who thought that the funeral was pre-paid however, it was not, the deceased had an insurance policy that he put aside to pay for it! they thought that policy was going to be for them! WRONG! just fyi-any life insurance policy will pay out upon death, just some will not take an assignment from the funeral home. most will, but there a few that won’t. so, if they won’t take an assignment, then there is always that possibility that a funeral home will wait for the beneficiary to file it and then pay the funeral home once the beneficiary recieves it. or…you can pay up front, and then once the ins money comes in..pretty much you are being reimbursed, but alot of people can’t afford to pay up front like that….oh…and feel free to rant away!

      • Good to hear from you Bizz. I’ve had a rant on my own blog with worldpress too if you want to check it out. I just feel though I have had my calling and though my hair is a bit better its still not perfect and I want the director to take me seriously. (It’s gone to a very faded baby pink.) I might be 25 but I feel I’ve had enough life experience to flourish in a funeral home. Not to say I know everything of course, but I have the right temperament I feel, to do a good job.

        You know, I have this image in my head of what you look like. I wish we could go for a beer. I know obviously this will never happen but I’m glad I can speak to you.

        I would do anything to leave my job now and do your job Sad but true. So when misinformed people annoy you, just think there is a lunatic in the U.K who would kill for my job. No pun intended. You probably:- She’s got a lot to learn!😛

      • thefuneralbizz Says:

        a beer sounds great….LOL especially after the week I had!
        I know I bitch a lot, but I do like my job…so really, that probably makes me a lunatic!

    • Admin Asst Says:

      OMG! I can so relate the whole “gimme, gimme, gimme!” mentality. My elderly neighbor, across the street, just passed in March. Sweet lady. However she had no children and I only know of one family member that took care of her and took her shopping and to lunch, to the hairdresser etc…every single week. Well the day she died, a bunch of her relatives (who I had never seen visit her in all the years I lived across the street from her) showed up and starting to pawing through her stuff and dragging stuff out of her house.

      We handled her arrangements, where I work. She died on a Fri and the family couldn’t come in until Monday (because they were too busy going through her things). Very sad. She was a sweet person and deserved better.

      • thefuneralbizz Says:

        Sounds typical…unfortunately. The family we are dealing with now sound similar. This man passed away on the 27th and they wanted to wait until the 11th!!!!!! to start visitation! and why they wanted to wait…..because everyone is so busy and he passed during a holiday weekend…what the heck does the holiday weekend have to do with anything?? THEN….the other part of the family, who wasn’t even involved in making any arrangements said that they shouldn’t wait that long because…….he will decompose and they will have to have a closed casket….WHAT?!?!?!?

  3. Admin Asst Says:

    Where I work, the FDs make a lot of discounts for families. If it means they will stay with us, they will work them to a certain extent. But when you have families that have more than enough means to pay the bill, the FD’s get annoyed and when they start questioning them, they will state in kind terms “Well, your loved one passed away at 2am in the morning. That means that we had to get up, get dressed, drive the company vehicle to x location and pick up your loved one. That means we have to pay overtime, gas and vehicle costs.” Many times they can’t argue with that.

    If the FDs get families that are generally hostile (mad at the funeral home over their loved one’s death) they will say “Look, if you don’t think we can meet your needs at any of the other funeral homes in the area.” Of course they say it more diplomatically than I just typed but you get the general idea. Nine times out of 10, that is enough to get the hostilities in check and the family will stay with us.

    I know you have mentioned this numerous times, so I hope it’s okay if I revisit this topic, but again with Walk ins. We have been really busy this month and we have been getting more and more walk ins. And of course, we are busy and unfortunately we have been unable to assist families right at the moment they walk in. Some have been for immediate need and others have been for pre arranging later on in the distant future. I really wish there was a way to put a sign on the door (but I know we can’t) that says, please call for an appointment. I mean a person wouldn’t walk into their dr’s office without calling first or having an appointment, or a dentist’s office, or an attorney’s office. Unfortunately we’ve had at least 2 services per day for just about the whole month of May, so the FDs are either meeting with families or off on services. So no one has been available to meet with walk ins right away.

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      we do that too…tell them “nicely” to go someplace else if they feel the need. i mean, really, we can only do so much! it gets to the point where we just have to throw up our hands and say oh well…sometimes it isn’t worth making money on ‘certain’ families. i have a family right now who can’t get their shit straight. first they are coming in at 11am. then can’t make it, they are “just too busy” and then call back and say they are coming in at 2pm…well, sorry to break the news, but 2pm is not good for US! speaking of walkins, just had one yesterday! we had visitation going on and low and behold…knock knock on my office door…i said ‘yes’ and the woman says…’who do i speak with about making some arrangements’? almost like she was being ‘put-out’ for having to come to my office and actually ASK.
      I wish there was a sign for the door as well. it absolutley drives me CRAZY that people just show up! i don’t usually turn people away, but i have done it once or twice and only because we were extremely busy. common sense tells you that if you see a funeral going on, a hearse in the lot, etc… maybe its not such a good time!!! but nooooo…. there are those who get pissed when they walk in and i tell them they will have to wait a few minutes or there is no one to help them for another half hour….and i always explain why they have to wait…maybe director with a family, on the phone, in meeting, on way back to funeral home, etc… then there are those who will walk in, but they immediately say, ‘i am so sorry for not calling, but i was right here, is it possible to see someone now or can i schedule an appt. but those are far and few between!

  4. what are some of the alternatives? you mentioned that there were some alternatives to traditional funeral

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      well the ‘taditional’ funeral usually means, 2 days of viewing and the 3rd day the funeral service. typically starting with prayers at the funeral home, then processing to church for mass, then processing to the cemetery for a chapel or graveside service. So, if you still want to keep it somewhat traditional cut it down to 1 day of viewing, that will save you between $400-$1000 depending on the charges of the funeral home. Or cut that one day of viewing into a half a day. Instead of say, 12p (for family) 1pm-8pm for everyone else, just do maybe from 3pm-8pm then following day have the funeral service. Another way to cut cost is not go to the church for mass. Have all the prayers and service at the funeral home then process to the cemetery. OR the opposite, go to church only and not start at the funeral home. OR, just have the chapel or graveside at the cemetery in the morning. Everyone would just meet at the cemetery, the funeral home will already be there with the deceased. There are also options such as only having 2-3 hours of visitation then going to the cemetery. With that option, you would have to have your visitation early, no evenings because you must be in the cemetery gates by 3pm (most cemeteries have that rule). Of course if you wanted cremation, then you really don’t even need to have a funeral service the following day, unless you wanted a mass. You could have your viewing all day then that evening you would have a service at the funeral home and that would conclude everything. If you wanted a mass, then you would meet at the church then that would conclude all services. Unless you wanted to start at the funeral home. If you want cremation, but not sure if you want a viewing or can’t afford to have a viewing (remember that most funeral homes require the body to be emabalmed if public viewing, so you have those charges)than you could have just a memorial visitation at the funeral home for however many hours you want, then a service at the end. If the family really really feels it necessary to view the body just for closure and it is ONLY immediate family then you could do a 15 minute I.D. and then the funeral home would take the body to the crematory or if it is going to be a burial than the family could meet us at the cemetery or the family doesn’t even have to go to the cemetery if they do not want to, it could be just a direct burial. For those instances where there wont be a procession the funeral home may have what they call a service vehicle, we have a van, and if the family just wants a direct burial with family witness or not witness than they may choose to use the service vehicle instead of a hearse to save money. Of course you can save money on the casket, don’t order an elaborate casket. As far as a vault, check with the cemetery to see if they offer packages if you have to purchase property too, don’t spend alot on flowers. You can find a nice casket spray and one or two other arrangements for a decent price. If it is a big family, usually you would get a spray and then the children and brother/sisters of deceased would have arrangements on either side of the casket as well as maybe one from the grandchildren…it is all up to the family. If the deceased was a Veteran, then consider having the flag draped over the casket, you won’t need a casket spray if the flag is draped. As the funeral home if they have other register books that cost less or you could purchase a nice book at an office supply store or a craft store. Prayer cards you usually get a set amount for a certain price, if you have a photo on them, that costs more, don’t have a photo put on. From experience, work and personal, most people throw the cards away anyway….so you really are wasting your money. Don’t go out and purchase new cloths for the deceased. Use something they already have. If you think it looks too big, bring it anyway, we can usually make something that is too big, fit. obituaries, they are expensive! Especially if you live in a major city, so consider not doing one. Most funeral homes have a website that they put the obit on. If you do decide to do the obit, make it short and sweet! They charge by the line. No one cares that Aunt Betsy graduated high school in 1918 and was a member of the all girls rowing team, and every other organization on the planet! That she loved to sew and smoke a pipe! Really, when people see those in the paper, it’s like, really….No one cares but the family! So, if you want something that outlines her life, then go on the computer and type it all up yourself and print it out and make a few copies and set them out during visitation, and if anyone wants one they can take it. The funeral home will usually make more copies for you if you need more. So, those are some of the options….hope that helped.

  5. I was watching this drama on tv the other night where this woman has to plan a funeral quickly and the local casket builder shows her around his workshop casually saying, “this one’s such and such, this one’s higher, go for that one (the cheaper) they all get burnt up anyway”… Makes sense! Why make such a fuss?

    • thefuneralbizz Says:

      really not sure what the fuss is about either. i’m sure that for some families it’s more of a “show off” thing…so when people come to visitation or funeral they see what an elaborate casket they bought their loved one…but really, ALL caskets are nice. so, you can buy one for half the cost and no one will ever know…

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