Life at a funeral home – life insurance
Hi everyone… I havent posted in a while, we have been pretty busy at the funeral home. We have had funerals and visitations every single day. It is almost like an assembly line, no disrespect meant. But really, one family out another in..day after day. Which brings me to a few things.
First, when you schedule your visitation times, you also schedule the ‘family hour’. Family hour is just that, an hour for only family, just immediate family to come in before anyone else to view your loved one, make sure you are happy with their appearance and set up any photos, etc…yes including food..ugh! So typical family hour would be like at Noon. Then from say 1pm to 9pm for everyone else. So that means what? That you should arrive at what time? The answer is….NOON! Not 11am. Not 11:30am. Not 11:45am. At NOON! I can see being 5 min early, even 10 min early. This puts alot of pressure on us when we have a funeral at say, 11am at the funeral home. Funerals are not always held at church, alot take place at the funeral home then to cemetery and sometimes they just conclude at the funeral home because it may be a cremation. So if a service starts at say 11am, typically the service may last a half hour to maybe 45 min then time to get everyone out of the funeral home. And sure, it would be alot easier if we didnt schedule a funeral so close to another family arriving for visitation and in a perfect world we would be more than happy to be able to schedule things that way…but…it is not up to us! It is up to the family, up to what time clergy is available to do a service, etc..then it is up to the other family who is having their visitation. The family who will be having visitation ususlly wants the common time to arrive, which is Noon. So..we must accommodate both families! Now you may be thinking, so whats the big deal? Well, during the funeral service for the one family, we are at the same time preparing the other chapel for the incoming family, carrying all the flowers that are arriving, so we are back and forth carrying flowers and setting them up. I guess in a large funeral home it may not be so bad, but we are not that big of a place, so we are trying to be quite as not to disturb the service. And as i always say, the phone is usually ringing, maybe someone has shown up to pick up death certificates or even the dreaded walkin. We are also making sure the place is cleaned up, trash emptied in restrooms and lounge from the family who is there for service, making sure full pots if coffee are made because the other family may have drank some coffee, etc. Now, we also get families that may request a certain room/chapel, and the one they want is the one that the service is being held in. Of course when this happens we explain that we will be having a service that day and they may not be gone when they arrive for visitation so it may take us some time to clean up and set up while they wait.. of course they always say..no problem, but when it comes down to it, they are usually a bit put off by it. Alot of the time it isnt even the family members who requested that chapel and who agreed that it may take us time to set up that are alittle irritated that things are not ready when they walk in the door, it is other family members who were not there for arrangements and were not told by the family that they requested that certain chapel. So they get a bit upset and we get the occasional roll of the eyes or the comment that this should have been done.. So it is important to not arrive too early for your family hour and…explain to the rest of the family that you knew that there is a delay because of certain request or becsuse you wanted to arrive at whatever time knowing about the other service. I find the biggest complaint is lack of parking. Because if we have a funeral getting ready to leave, our lot is typically full and cars lined up after the hearse, so the new family has to find elsewhere to park. . However we do have the families who are understanding and dont complain..
On to the next thing and main reason for my post. Life Insurance. Just because you may be using a life insurance policy to pay for funeral charges does not mean that you may not have any out of pocket expenses. If there is a policy that is worth $5000.00 then it covers $5000.00. If the funeral expenses exceed that amount than you are responsible for that. It doesnt mean that we have to accept that $5000 and if charges are say, $6000.00, we just don’t charge you that $1000.00! I would have thought that most people just knew this, but, like i always say (especially in the funeral business), never assume!! It has come back to bite me in the ass on more than one occasion! Pretty much the same goes for a Pre paid funeral. Even tho mom or dad or grandma or grandpa or whoever pre paid their funeral back in the 80’s, you ‘may’ still owe some money after it is all said and done. Yes, the prices are guaranteed from the day they pre paid. So if they chose a casket that is now selling for $3000 but back in the 80’s when they pre paid that casket (or a similar casket if the one the pre paid is no longer available) it was only $2000, then we cannot charge you the difference. That is one of the positives in pre paying! However, if the family wants other items and or services that were not pre paid, well, you have to pay for those things. Say for instance the person who pre paid their funeral put money in it toward their obit. Things like an obit are only estimated items. Same goes for death certificated. You can pay so much into your pre need for death certificates, but again, when that person passes away, the family may need more death certificates than the deceased figured they would need and most likely the cost of death certificates went up in cost since the funeral was pre paid. Sometimes people dont always pre pau for all the necessary items. Sometimes they wont pre pay for a vault. Maybe at that the time they wanted to be cremated but since changed their mind. So now the family has to purchase a vault. That has to be paid for out of pocket. Other items, especially what we call ‘cash advance’ items are all out of pocket expenses, which includes the obit and death certificates. But other items are, donation to clergy, flowers, maybe the opening and closing of the grave still needs to be paid, we will add that to the funeral home bill if the family wishes and we pap the cemetery, so the family doesnt have to worry about it. Maybe they will be having Mass at church, so a donation to the church is a cash advance as well as the organist if there will be one, also if it will be a cremation and the cremation charges and permit fee were not pre paid, then they will need to be added and paid out of pocket. Of course the total of these items may not be what the family owes depending on how much the pre plan gained in funds over the years. There could be plenty to cover any out of pocket or there could only be an extra $10… just depends on how long ago it was and how the economy has been effected since it was pre paid.. Your pre paid funeral will never go under what you paid into it, but it can gain money over the years. If you paid $6000 in 1996 and passed away today, you could have gained maybe several hundred dollars. Maybe in 2002 it was up from $6000 to $6500. But then in 2010 when the economy took a shit, the pre need lost money, so maybe it went from $6500 to $6350. Then in 2015 it gained a bit and went up to $6460. Hope that wasnt too confusing.
….and just another rant about calling for an appointment! Please call FIRST!! I cannot stress this enough… call call call. Do not just show up! But if you do just show up and are told that a Director is not available right now, please understand that we have other families, funerals, arrangements outside the funeral home. I will never understand why people just show up…. most any place you go these days you need to have an appointment. So why wouldnt you need an appointment to make funeral arrangements? Of course if we are available to sit and meet with you, we certainly will, we will never ever say that you needed an appointment or you are inconveniencing us. Who knows what we may have been doing?? We could have been having lunch (yep, we also eat, just like everyone else), we could have been on our way out the door to an appointment outside the funeral home, to make a removal, or maybe going to get a death certificate signed or to file it. We could have been locking up for the night and getting ready to head home to our families, maybe we had dinner plans, or a personal appointment, we could be just going home because it is closing time and we are exhausted because we have been up since 3am because we received a death call and had to get up and out of bed to make the removal, head to the funeral home to begin embalming. By the time that was done it was already 6am and we have to be back at funeral home by 8:30am, so we have to go home, shower, get dressed and back because we have prayers at the funeral home at 9am for a 10am Mass at church for a funeral. By the time we get back to funeral home after cemetery it is 12:30pm and we are starving since we did not get a chance to have breakfast and so we need lunch. And that may be when someone “walks in”. All we can think about is, how tired and how starving we are..but once again we get up and meet with you and dont ever let on just how tired and hungry we are. So finally at 2pm we are able to shove our now cold lunch into our faces..catch up on any other work and whatever work needs to be started on the ‘walk in’ and who knows if we may have an arrangement scheduled for say, 3:30pm…or we are just finishing all the work and any running that needs to be done. And finally, it is almost time to lock up and turn the lights out so we can go home to finally relax and catch up on some sleep, hopefully! But, maybe a family shows up at end of the day instead of during our lunch or both! So, we put on our best face and welcome them in, ask them if they want some coffee, water, and to please have a seat and we begin again. . . . . So maybe by 7pm we can go home…maybe, and hope for a quiet night! This is our job. This is what we do. It is by no means easy. Some days are easier than others, sure.. but other days feel like you have ran a marathon, somedays like you feel as if you will collapse if you do not sit down for one minute, or are so hungry you feel sick and or dizzy. And there is a family that came to you. Came to your funeral home. Trusted you with their loved one. And… you have the responsiblity of providing that family with respect, professionalism, kindness and at the very least, to let them know you are available to them 24/7 from now until they lay their loved one to rest, sometimes even after that…lol. For some reason people think that the funersl home is always open..no matter the time of day…or night. We are available 24/7 … by phone. Other than that we are open normal business hours, sometimes later if there is a visitation. I cannot tell you how many times we get calls from people after business hours who are at the funeral home…outside, waiting for someone to answer the door! And every single time they are just amazed (and typically irritated) that we are not there.. they will say ‘i am at the door of the funeral home and noone is answering!” When we tell thrm that the funeral home is closed most people will say, “well there is s black vehicle in the lot, yet no one will answer!” We have to explain that the vehicle is the company vehicle and is always there. Of course we ask them what they want, why they are there. Sometimes its only because they are stopping by to pick up dome death certificates or maybe make a payment, other times it is because they need to make arrangements. Depending on the time of day it is, either we tell them they can wait for a Director to get there or they can…..make an appointment for the following day!! If it was at 10pm, more than likely we wouldnt ‘offer’ to meet them right away, we would ask them to come the next day at a better time. Of course there are those who will insist on ‘right now’. Or, we get someone who shows up at 6am…I am not sure why anyone would do this, but it happens. If it is someone who is just stopping because they need to pick something up, we will tell them they need to come during businesd hours, especially if someone is just coming by to make a payment, then they can put it in the mail or pay by credit over phone. There are also those people who walk in during a funeral service. I think that bothers me more than other walk ins. It is pretty much obvious from the cars in the lot and the big black hearse being parked out front that. ….maybe…just maybe, there is a funeral in progress!! But that still doesn’t stop people from walking in and, seeing that it is quiet and and there is a chapel full of people…isnt that a giveaway that something is going on? If it were me, the lot full of cars with a hearse in front woulda tipped me off and i would have said to myself or my family, “hmmm, think we should come back at another time OR, i would have called!!!!!!!!