Life working at a funeral home – What do you say…?!?
So, the other day the front door buzzer goes off. I answer it. A family walks in, there were 4 of them. I say, “Hi, what can I help you with?” One of the women says, “…..(sigh) we are here to see Jack, thank you.” As she continued to keep walking away from me to go sit down and the other people followed her which left me standing alone….now normally I would just say, “OK, I will go get him, and your name is?” However, in this instance, we do not have a Jack that works for us! So this caused me to, politely say, “I’m sorry, but there is no Jack here, do you mean maybe Dave (using false names)?” She spun her head around so fast I thought immediately of the movie, the Exorcist! She said, “I said JACK, that is who I spoke to and made an appointment with!” Again I told her there is no Jack, did she maybe speak to another funeral home, there are 3 others on the same street and 2 of them are within a 5 mile radius. Well, now one of the men that was with her says to her, “are you sure its this funeral home?” She says, “YES! And how am I expected to remember the guys name I spoke with, I thought he said his name was Jack, it was certainly not Dave!” So, all this time I am trying to ask if they were here because someone passed away. When I was finally able to ask, she said “OF COURSE…why else would we be here?!?” I said the reason I was asking is because for one we did not have any appointments scheduled today for arrangements and we were not notified of any deaths that occurred…. but I said I would go get Dave and ask if he knew anything and he would be up in a moment to speak with you. The next rude thing out of her mouth was, “and this is going to take how long?” I replied, “only a minute.” So I went to get Dave and explained what was going on…so he went up to speak with them. So he walked up front and said Hello, I am Dave, how may I help you? The woman said, “I TOLD that girl we are here to see JACK!” So h explained there is no Jack that is employed at this funeral home and asked if they were sure that they were at the correct funeral home… she said, “why would I come here otherwise!” So Dave said that he would be more than happy to help them, if they wish, but he could not get “Jack” because there is no Jack! In the meantime, I went into the office and I called the other funeral home down the street to see if there was a jack at their funeral home. Low and behold there is! I explained what was going on and that if he could please hold so I could go let Dave and the family know and I was going to put the lady on phone with Jack… so I went up front and gladly interrupted everyone and said that I have the funeral home down the street on the phone, and his name is Jack and he would like to speak with you. Needless to sat she was reluctant to budge from her seat as if somehow I was suppose to bring the phone to her, we do not have a cordless phone and even if we did I would not have brought it to her anyway. She got up and picked up the phone and said, “Yeah?” Only other word I heard her say was, “if we must.” Which I am assuming she was replying to him asking her to come down the street to meet with him. So she hung up the phone, walked passed Dave and I and nodded to her family and headed for the door… no “good bye” no’ thank you” no nothing!
So yeah, of course I was more than irritated that I had to tolerate a person who is that rude and inconsiderate. was I a bitch in return o her? No. Which after this happened, made me think about some of the comments I receive about my blog and how they can’t believe how I bitch about my job/people I deal with. This woman could have waled into any businesses, a gas station, a grocery store, her doctors office, etc. I’m pretty sure she is a miserable person regardless of who or where she is and even more positive that had she been elsewhere that other people probably would not have continued to be nice and help her. But since she walked into our funeral home, we were still nice to her, continued to be helpful to her. I can’t say that had she walked into another funeral home they would have been as nice or have continued to help her. Those of us who work in a funeral home come in contact with a lot of people. A lot of ‘different’ people. And I assume ‘most’ of us know that not everyone is polite, nice, appreciative, etc. And in most instances those who encounter such people, do not necessarily have to ‘put up’ with these people if they do not wish to or are able to simply walk away from them or even confront them or call them out on their behavior. We, who who work at funeral homes typically do not have that option. We just simply have to suck it up and deal with it. Of course there has been a time or two when, yes, we have had person or even a family who has been vulgar and unmanageable and eventually we or another employee or Director has finally just had to say, enough is enough! We have had people make threats, swear constantly at us, call us names when there is something v we are unable to do. There are certain things that we cannot help people with, such as giving out personal info. Believe it or not we get a lot of phone calls from people who will say things like, “I knew so and so who is being laid out at your funeral home but I am unable to make it to the visitation/funeral can I have his/her spouse/children/parents phone number/address so that I can send a condolence?” Of course we are not going to give that info out. You would be surprised how people react when you tell them NO. I love when someone will say how they were such good friends of the deceased and their family but yet want their contact info. If in fact you were/are such good friends with them, then wouldn’t you have their info? And I don’t think most people would appreciate someone giving out their info. There are the families who cannot get along with each other or get along with the deceased boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. So they expect us to not allow these certain people into the funeral home. Of course there is nothing we can do to prevent someone from showing up for visitation/funeral services. We do not have door men or security guards or bouncers, this is not a bar or night club! So when this is explained to the family they dont usually like our answer and will say something like, “well we can’t promise there wont be a fight here then” or we have ha families say that it IS our job to make sure this person is not allowed in, which it is not! And that if something happens they will sue us…. yeah OK… so in the past we have had people who were not wanted show up for visitation or funeral, first off, how do we know who they are.. !?! and the family has come to us saying that we are incompetent and did not do our job because we allowed this person in the funeral home or at church or at cemetery.. and believe me, we have had a few families who really let us have an ear full and calling us names and threatening us. So at that point we politely try to say not to speak to us that way and that if they continue to do so we are going to hang up or if they are in person, ask them to leave and if they do not we will call the police to have them removed. And if they do not comply, well, we will hang up or call the police. We had a woman who lost her son not long ago. It was a bad situation and it was not a death that was due to natural causes, if you know what I mean..of course she was blaming his girlfriend for what happened. So it was one of those situations where one minute she was OK with the girlfriend and then one minute wanted the girlfriend gone. This became the funeral homes problem….or at least that is how the mother looked at it. We kept telling her we could not control who comes in and we would only call the police if they or anyone else started to fight or if any threats were made. One minute she said she understood and the next minute she was yelling and screaming at us and accusing us of being on the girlfriends side and just acting crazy. So apparently this girlfriend showed up to mass at church or so says the mother of deceased….now we had no clue she was other and the mother said she saw her in the back. Not only did the mother accuse us of allowing this to happen she also told us that we did not know how to do our jobs! When we explained again that we cannot control who shows up at church and finally told her that we have had enough of her yelling at us, she then asked in a very weird voice, “have you ever heard of channel (insert TV new station here)? I replied, “of course” and she said, “well then you know that after I call them they are going to put your funeral home out of business!” And she hung up. Well needless to say we did not hear back from her or ant TV news station. A few weeks later tho her name was mentioned on the news because there was a court case going on about her son and apparently she did not show up to court because she did not want to see the girlfriend….
Another example of people we have to deal with or for better word, accommodate, was a family who were having visitation and the daughter of deceased was ‘in charge’. Well she wasn’t happy with the seating in the chapel. I think her mind she had how seating is at a wedding. She wanted chairs separated by side of the family. We tried to explain to her for one, we just don’t have the room to separate the furniture to make an aisle way down the center. She insisted that we did. Again we told her we could not do that because then we would blocking the doorways and we just would not do that. And secondly, normally you don’t separate by sides if family at a funeral. So then since we wouldnt move all the chairs around for her she then asked if we had some more tables to bring in the room, there is no room for more tables! So we told her no. After that she treated each of us like dirt. She complained about everything. She complained that there was not extra toilet paper in bathrooms, which there was, there are extra rolls in the dispenser! If we weren’t standing next to coffee pot the second someone took the last cup, she was complaining that we weren’t being quick enough!
And lately I have been dealing with a few people who seem to be in rush about everything. When will we have the death certificates. When will the cremated remains be back. When When When! And its not like we don’t explain things to people. We her, “well, I am leaving g town on such h and such day so I need them by then” or “we want to have a memorial at our chur h on such and such day, so when can we get the cremated remains back?” Listen, we can’t force or rush the Medical Examiner to sign and approve the cremation permit…believe me, we try! It just doesn’t work that way! We can’t force a doctor to sign a death certificate if he/sh is not in on a certain day and we have to wait! And we can’t make the crematory go any faster than possible! So what really irritates me is when someone asks his long it will be and we explain all of this and they still try to get us to say “oh, just a couple of days” we never give a family an exact day unless we are positive that we will be getting the cremains that specific day! I hate when people try to get you to say something that you have told them you cannot promise, just so they can come back and say, “well he/he told me it would be done today”! Same thing with death certificates. Just the other day I was explaining a pending death certificate to a family and told them it can take months before we get the amended back. The brother just kept saying ” yeah, we are gonna need it before then” and I kept saying “well, hopefully it wont take that long, but there is nothing anyone can do to speed it up”. He said “why can’t we get it sooner, we have a lot of financial issues to take care of” so I explained what I had just explained 5 minutes prior! It is out of the funeral homes hands if it is pending!! Call your state vital records and complain because complain to me is not gonna help! Because if I could speed it up, I so would, because I certainly don’t want to keep explaining the same thing over and over to you and have to listen to you bitch at me for not having the amended death certificate for you yet even tho i have explain it to you over and over again! I also love when I am told that we are not doing our jobs because a friend of your got their loved ones death cert in 4 days…. Yes, they probably did, because it was not pending!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!