Life at a funeral home – who what when why


Those seem to be the 4 words I often hear. More so lately. Either from families. By co.workers. Doctors offices. Insurance companies. Cemeteries. Church. Etc…
One of the most common questions we get right away from a family is “when will or his long will it be before you pick up my (insert deceased here). At our funeral home we use a removal service. IF it is at a hospital that is near to us and we are not busy and have the staff available, then we will go. If the body is at the medical examiners, we will also do the removal. But….if it is a home death, no, we do not do the removal, the company we have does it. So…when a family asks us how long we will be we HAVE to say approximately an hour. Typically it is sooner, but if we say “oh about a half hour” then guess what? The family is going to be calling us saying “YOU SAID you would be here in a half hour”! So best to say that its gonna be longer than it really is. Also, when we have a removal at a hospital, regardless if it is us doing the removal or our removal company, we cannot just run to the hospital and take the body. We HAVE to wait for clearance from the hospital! We HOPE that the hospital explains the after death procedures to the family…but I assume there are times when they don’t. So once we do get they call that a person has passed and we are not making the removal, we call our removal company and notify them that we have a removal at such and such hospital, we give them the name of deceased, next of kin and IF we know if that person us ready or not. After that phone call the removal company takes over. They will contact the hospital to see if the body is ready for release. Once they get the OK, they will go. If when we receive the call and it is a family member who is calling us notifying us of death, we will typically explain that we will make removal once we get clearance. Some families will still ask how long will that take? Well, we don’t know! It is up to the hospital! So… when a family continuously calls us evey hour to ask if we have their so and so yet or why we haven’t picked them up yet its very frustrating, especially when it is in the middle of the night! And when we tell you again, we HAVE to wait for the hospital to tell us we can come and their response is something like “well she died 2 hours ago, I am sure she is ready”. We cannot show up to make removal just because YOU say so! And when the family continues to call and asks why we haven’t picked up yet but they use that accusatory tone, as if we just forgot about their loved one, I hate that!!!! We don’t only get that accusatory tone when it comes to removals, we get it with everything, and not just from the family. We get ALOT of people who call us about service times and first thing out of their mouths is, “it is NOT posted on your website!! So I am calling to find out vis times and funersly times for Mr/Mrs so and so.” Well, there are many families who DO NOT want it online! We do not ask why!! Also, we may not have the details yet!! The family may not have come in yet to make arrangements. Or maybe they are at the funeral home in the process of making the arrangements! Or…maybe they have come in but are undecided!! I cannot begin to say how many times I receive phone calls for info on vis and funeral day and times and I tell the called, “I’m sorry, I do not have that info yet, the family is not coming in until later/tomorrow/or the family is here now. And what does the caller say? “So you can’t even tell me what day!?!” NO I CANT! If I don’t know than I don’t know!! So we get, “when will you know?” We also get people who get pissed if there is no obit in the paper!!!! How is the the families decision not to place an obit in the paper our fault!?! And how is it acceptable to ask the funeral home WHY WE did not place an obit in the paper?!? It is not up to the funeral home to place an obit in the paper. It is up to the family if they want one. If they do we will do it for them, but it costs money to place an obit! And it costs a lot!! I’m talking a couple hundred dollars! A regular size obit, if you can call it a ‘regular size’ obit, in our local paper without a photo will typically cost around $150.00. With a photo, between $200 and $250. If family wants a notice in the city paper, then it will run more than $200 and with a photo, probably close to $300! So ‘most’ of you can imagine that a lot of families cannot even afford to place one! So no matter if a family places an obit or not, we still offer to post it on our website at no charge with or without a photo! There are also deadlines, which I have mentioned before in some of my blogging, and if a family comes in to make arrangements on a Tuesday after 11am (deadline for our Wednesday local paper), then they will not be able to place an obit in the local paper until the next print date, which is Sunday. So if they decide to have visitation on say that Thursday and funeral Friday, the obit will not be able to go in until Sundays paper, which is obviously after the fact! In that obit it will say “services were held on Friday”. So for those who for some reason get pissed that there is no obit in the paper, ask the family why NOT the funeral home!!
I can’t remember if I posted about prayer cards/memorial folders or not but when a family comes in for arrangements, they choose which ones they want and what prayer they want. If the family wants something ‘special’ like a photo with maybe some sort of special effect or lid maybe a frame around the photo or if they want some other prayer we don’t have and cannot fit it on the card with our program, we will have a printing company print them. When this happens we make it clear to the family that if/when they run out during visitation/ service, than that’s it, there are no more. Some will say, “oh that’s fine, we understand.” Or they will order more than the standard 100 that we typically do. They have to pay extra for what they are getting, meaning not only extra for the amount but for the special photo and or prayer. So many times we get people who are there fairy the funeral who come to the staff and say, “….there are no more cards in there, you need to put some more in there!” Or, “there are no more cards in there and I did not get one, can I have one?” When we say there are no more, 90% of the time we get a nasty look or a “what? There aren’t anymore? Are you kidding me”? Nope! I’m not kidding you! I have had people who have actually said a few choice words over the fact that they did not get a prayer card! How absolutely absurd is it that someone has to swear, OUT LOUD, in front of other people, about not getting g a prayer card! Grow up! Because honestly, are you really gonna keep that card? And if you are gonna keep it, do you like frame thrmy or something? Because unless you are family, I highly doubt that you will remember where that card is 6 months from now! It is not something to throw a tantrum over! And again, it is NOT the fault of the funeral home! It is also not our responsibility to explain to anyone why there are no more!! It is noones business! Not that we are usyalkyy given the opportunity to explain anyway.
Another thing that has been coming up a lot again is food at the funeral home. I guess some funeral homes don’t have this problem, maybe it depends on the area in which you live, I don’t know… but the last few families we have had have wanted to bring in food, not just snack of sandwiches, but meals like in crockpots. I will never understand this, for as long as I have worked in the funeral business and as fairy as long as I continue to work in the funeral business, I will not get the whole ‘let’s make a bunch of food an bring it all to the funeral home’ thing! They will usually call us the day before visitation or ask during arrangements if we allow food in the lounge. We tell them yes, but only food that does not need to be kept warm! No crockpots, no warming plates, etc.  Why!” Us what they always ask! Well, for starters, if you have something plugged in to jeep warm/hot and someone burns themselves or knocks it over and it hurts someone else, either by burning them or if someone slips and falls, etc… the funeral home can be held liable fairy those injuries. And two, we do not have a license to serve food. And 3, bugs and rodents, now this third one applies to any type of for or drink, especially when those peopkey who bring their children with them but feel no need to keep their eye on them because, well, apparently a funeral home is comparable to a babysitter! Let me clarify something, the funeral him is NOT a safe place to let yiury children run around or to be left unattended! I do not enjoy hearing your kids yell and scream nor do I like it when they decide they wabty to explore other areas if the funeral home that they do not belong in, like my office! I do not find it cute whatsoever. I don’t like telling other people’s children to not do something, that is not place or at least it shouldn’t be! I will if I have to, but usually after I do that little brat runs to mom or dad and tells them that I yelled at them and guess who is getting nasty looks for the rest of the day! But back to the point, those who leave their kids alone and around food and soda pop make a mess! They drop food and spill soda and things get stickey! I have found chips and m & M’s embedded into cushions of the chairs we have in part if the lounge, under the cushions I should say. We get ants from all the sweet stuff, so we have to get rid of the ant. If a family comes in and sees ants all over the place, they are gonna be turned off, right? So if you would not let your kid grind chips and candy into your cushions at home then do not let them do it at a funeral home, better yet, if you must bring them with you at all, don’t plan on staying!!!!!!!!!!!! And that is another reason not to bring in an assload of food, people will stay longer if you bring in food! Why bring in a ton of for during the visitation when most likely you will be having a luncheon after the funeral!? So you are now basically feeding these people twice! There is no reason for families to think they need to bring in food for those coming to pay their respects! Those people are coming to do just that…Paying their respect to the deceased, not sit in the funeral home lounge and eat! They are ‘suppose’ to be coming for you, your family and the deceased, not to eat. If they are stopping on their way home from work, there is usually coffee, they can grab a coffee or water, say what they need to and go home. Usually the family is too busy to sit and bullshit with any one person for more than a few minutes anyway because other people are arriving as well.
Well, I’m done bitching for the day…..except for about his damn cold it has been lately! This is ridiculous!! Those of you living anywhere where it has been bitterly cold know what I am talking about! It isn’t even funny anymore, it is downright awful. -15 I’d NOT fun!! Keep warm everyone dealing with this cold and more important, be safe!!

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