Life working at a funeral home-I Dunno


I really couldn’t think of a title for this post…so, that’s why I just wrote I dunno..
It seems that lately we have been getting alot of people/families who just show up to the funeral home whenever they feel like it and call the funeral home at hours that are just really stupid..I have said it before, but unless it is an emergency, say if someone has passed away, there is no reason whatsoever to call us outside normal business hours! Now, lets say someone in your family has passed away. You have decided on a Direct Cremation. You will be having a service tho, but not at the funeral home, maybe you will be having a Mass at your church or if you belong to a club, like the vfw or some other type of organization. When you come for arrangements we will explain how long it typically takes to receive the cremated remains back. I have explained the whole process regarding cremation before (getting death certificate signed, getting the permit approved by the medical examiner, forwarding permit to crematory, the cremation itself, etc..), this way if the family wants to begin planning for any services outside the funeral home they can do so however, we also explain that sometimes it does not go as smooth as it should and there is always a possibility of delay. It never fails that a day or two later we get a call from the family asking…again…how much longer it will be before the cremated remains are back, because they have scheduled a service on a certain day. Well, if they in fact have scheduled something that is within the next few days, well, we have to tell them we will do our best but we cannot promise just as we explained during arrangements. At this point we now have to do everything we can to make sure we get the cremains back asap. Most of the time we manage to do so, I just wish people would really listen to us when we explain to them that it does take a few days!! Now alot of people also order urns. So now we have to make sure we get that urn as well..some times people get engraving on those urns, this is a different problem. That urn most likely will not be done and delivered in just a couple of days. So anyway, my point…Once we do receive the cremated remains we will contact the family immediately! We let them know that they are back and they can come pick them up. Normally they will ask how late we are there. They will usually say something like, ok, i think i can be there before you close or i will send another person (we of course will get that persons name from the informant so we know who is suppose to be picking them up. FYI if the informant or knext of kin does not tell us that they will be sending someone else to pick them up, we will not release them). So, this is what I really have an issue with; we have now jumped thru hoops to get these cremated remains back asap at the request of the family. We have contacted them, they are suppose to be by to get them by closing time….and they never show up! Maybe they call the following day and say they couldn’t make it but will be by that day but again, what time do we close? At this point we will usually lie and say we close a half hour earlier only because if we don’t, usually we lock up for the night and an hour later someone is calling saying they are at the funeral home and HAVE to pick up the cremated remains NOW! So…someone has to now leave whatever they are doing, eating dinner, shopping, sleeping, etc…to go back to the funeral home so these people can get the cremated remains. Understandable that they do in fact need them but, we were there when we were suppose to be! We are use to being inconvenienced however, in this sort of instance, it really is very annoying. If the family could have said to us that there really is no possible way for them to get to the funeral home by the time we close, we could have and would have asked, what time can you be here, we can have someone here at the time you are able to here. Or, we would have offered to bring them to thst person!! We do this often. Many times older people are just unable to get out and have to rely on orhers and we understand that. We always go to the length we have to in order to make a family happy. Maybe someone is just unable to leave work early, we will most certainly bring them to you at work as well. But to just not call and say you are running late…that is frustrating! Same goes for if you schedule an appointment. If you have made an appt. to come to pre-plan or maybe to have us help you with life ins. papers and you fail to show up and not call to let is know, well that also is very frustrating. Why? Because we have scheduled everything else leaving that time frame open for you. Who knows if we have received a new call and the family needs to come in to make at need arrangements, so we have scheduled them before or after you. It could also be that there is a funeral that day and your appt is prior to that funeral or after. If it was before and you don’t show up but show up later, noone is going to be there to help you. If it was after the funeral, maybe the Director has rushed back to the funeral home so as not to be late for your appt. and yet, you fail to show up.
This also goes for walk ins…of course, because you all know by now how much they irritate me! If we are not busy, it still bothers me that people do not call first, but it is not as frustrating as if we are busy, in the middle of a funeral service or another family is already there making arrangements. We recently had a family walk in for only pricing. They had called about an hour later to say that they wanted to come back because they wanted to use our funeral home and that theyvwould be back in one hour. This was in the afternoon. So one hour would be at 4pm. Fine, but…they did not show up. They did not show up at 5pm either. At this point we are thinking they must have decided to not use us or they mistakenly called us instead of another funeral home.. At 6:30pm they called because they were at the funeral home and noone is answering the door! Really! They said they had called us and told us they were coming! Yeah, they called, but 2 1/2 hours earlier! When the Director spoke to them and told them that we were there past 5pm but they did not show up or call, their response was that they are very upset and have had alot to do that day and now noone is at funeral home to help them! No, we are sorry or we apologize, we should have called or anything. So now we are dealing with a family who now has an attitude with US because they didn’t show up when THEY were suppose to! The director offered to meet them at the funeral home, it would just be about a half hour for him to get there. Nope, wasn’t good enough for them. The director asked if they wanted to come back in the morning? Nope. They said…they would let us know if they still wanted to use our funeral home, that they may now use another funeral home. Needless to say we did not hear back from them…and you know what? I am glad we did not!
We always are available. Most funeral directors are. But when we say we are always available, we are always available by phone 24/7 and if it is after regular business hours and you need to meet with us, we will also make ourselves available…even when you call us because you are at our funeral home and want to make arrangements. It may just take someone a few minutes to get there. We do not have the ability to snap our fingers and magically appear! 
When someone calls our funeral home to ask about visitation times for someone and we are not handeling anything for that person, well, we will say that person is not at our funeral home. If we for some reason know where that person is, we will relay that info to the caller. We get alot of people who will question why that person is not at our funeral home. We have no clue! Most funeral homes will service the same family for years, every person who passes in their family is brought to the same funeral home. So when someone passes away from a family that always uses the same funeral home but suddenly goes elsewhere, it becomes confusing for the rest of the extended family and friends to understand why they are at another funeral home. It is also confusing to us believe it or not, because if we are so use to serving that family and all the sudden they go elsewhere it makes us wonder why..did we do something wrong last time? Did we make them mad? What? But anyway, those family and friends who just assume they are at our funeral home will call to ask times, when told they are not at our funeral home, of course they are surprised but also question us as to why they are someplace else…again, we have no idea!! Some people will just show up to our funeral home thinking that the person is being laid out and they come in to find that they are not at our funeral home. Then the questions start…it is always, why not?!? Why are they at that funeral home? The family always uses your funeral home! We really dont have the answers!
And of course the one thing that I complain about alot..Death Certificates. We get that there may be a life ins policy and that maybe the deceased had younger children and you want that money.. But here it goes again…The death certificate may be pending. If so, that policy will most likely NOT pay out until it is amended!! Don’t ask us multiple times or call us later thinking you are talking to someone else and they are going to tell you differently. If it is pending it is pending and there is absolutely nothing we can do! It sucks I’m sure for those who have to wait. But nothing you say to us is going to change it from a Pending staus. You can call us, you can yell at us..you can call the Coroner..it is not going to change until the State receives the correction notice from the M.E. and then it still takes time! I personally think its ridiculous how long it takes to amend a death certificate, but I dont work for the State so I have no idea what the actual process is or why it takes so long except I’m sure they also have hundreds of others they are doing as well. We have younger people who pass away, say in their mid to late 40’s. Usually they have kids who are in their late teens or early 20’s. I am not saying that the kids are not upset that their parent has passed, but ine thing I do know is that those particular kids are difficult to work with when a death certificate is pending because they want that money NOW! It seems to be that whole generation..from my own personal experience or observations, I find that teens, ages 16 up to young adults, in their 20’s have this whole mindset of ‘I want it NOW’ and ‘I DESERVE to have/get what I want when I want it’! They really have no concept of what waiting is or what being told NO is..and I find it very frustrating. Some time I just want to haul off and slap them in the face and tell them that if they want something and they want it now then you have to go and get it yourself, it is not handed to you because you want it to be! You have to work for what you want!
Well..Until next time. Hope everyone is surviving winter (those of you who actually live someplace that has a long, cold, snowy, miserable winter).

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2 Responses to “Life working at a funeral home-I Dunno”

  1. Thank you for explaining how a pending death certificate works. In my case money is not a factor. The explanation is just a closure for the family. My sister was 58 without any illness and a great suprise being so sudden. I’ve never called to inquire that’s why I’m looking at your blog to understand the protocol. I’m sure others urgency is due to the expense of a funeral and not as much for personal gain for themselves. Perception can be confusing. If you don’t know the whole story from the inside the perception from the outside seems less caring or selfish. EXAMPLE :
    A man on a city bus has 5 children close in age and acting out. Other adults on the bus look at the father not knowing why he makes no attempt to get his children under control. At one point a lady screams at the man, “For the love of god man do something with your children! ”
    He unaffected father looks at the lady with tears in his eyes and says.
    “I’m sorry mam, I’ve just left the hospital and I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to tell the children their mother is dead.”
    This statement from the father changed the options of others of the father allowing the children misbehavior.
    PERCEPTION, I was the lady on the bus and I wanted to smack that father as he did nothing to get control of his children. But I didn’t know his story and like you…I was too quick to judge.

    • You should read the other posts on death certificates as well. I wouldn’t say that I am quick to judge, especially at work. I do know their circumstances, very well most of the time. I/we are the very ones they are telling their circumstances to, so when I say that most are in a rush for the insurance, well, I’m the one who is actually filing the claim for the family! There are those families who do not need the death certificates for insurance, but nonetheless are in a hurry because they want the cause of death, which in one of my other posts, it states about how to get the cause without the death certificates… the Autopsy Report. People also need death certificates for banking purposes, closing accts, etc.. I know its not always about the money.

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