Life working at a funeral home-Yep, it’s the busy season
So the busy months are upon us. I know, sounds weird coming from someone who works at a funeral home, But it never fails, November it gets busy.
It also means that there is that much more crazy I have to deal with!
Yes, crazy ass people! I’m not sure when people all turned nuts, maybe it’s just because I have gotten older or maybe I just didn’t pay ‘that’ much attention to people before. I dunno. But it seems that people have just lost their minds.
I consider myself ‘normal’, but I suppose each of us have our own definition of what normal means. For example, I am not a nut job, lol! But, I don’t do drugs. I only take my cholesterol prescription, my blood pressure meds, vitamin C, and ibuprofen for pain. I don’t drink alcohol, but not because I don’t want to, i cant, believe me, if i could, i would! grew up in a 3 bedroom home in a nice area, with both parents, who are still married today! One sibling. We ate dinner as a family every night. We went on summer vacations, nothing extravagant. I was a typical smart-ass teenager. I liked boys. .. alot..lol Nothing significant ever happened in my young life, no tragedies, no life changing events. so, I consider myself very very very lucky and fortunate. I know not everyone can say that. I also know that when life gets hard for some, they change and not always for the best, life can change people. I don’t mean any offense whatsoever, I’m not picking fun at those who had it hard. I had a great childhood, but my adult life on the other hand has been a mess. It pretty much just sucks, on and off, but for the most part I would say more then not. But, I just drag my ass out of bed every single day and go to work. Sometimes, I let work get to me. Alot of people ask us funeral people how do we do what we do every day? Well, it’s a job. I think only certain people are able to handle the funeral business, wether you are a Director, a Secretary or a Greeter, or a Hearse driver. We are all affected. We all see death every day and we all see how the families grieve. But usually we are focused on our work. We are making sure everything is running smoothly. No funeral home wants a mistake or a family to not be pleased. So we are busy trying to make sure of that. BUT…every now and then, you will find yourself feeling sad. I know for me personally, the one thing that will get to me if I let it, is going into the Chapel before the family arrives on the day of funeral, seeing all the pictures the family had set up for visitation. I will usually go in the Chapel before hand to see if there are enough prayer cards, make sure everything is in place, etc. I see the photos and see this person’s whole life. Their family. Pictures of weddings and babies and birthdays, vacation, etc. 99% of the time the photos are all happy photos, everyone smiling. There have been those rare ones where people are not smiling and it makes ya wonder. .. but nonetheless, I see the photos, I see this person laying in their casket, and excuse me for being blunt, but seeing them dead. No more life. They are just gone. No more pictures to be taken, no laughing with their friends or family who are left here. Now this is just how I think…. but as I look at all of that, I can’t help wonder why bother taking photos? Why bother working your butt off all your life, why do we ‘just have to have’ that new car, or whatever. Because in the end, none of it matters. The only thing that will ever matter, is how much YOU loved everyone else, how did you treat your family and friends, and even strangers. Because once you are gone, that’s it. I know we all want to be happy while we are here, at least I know I do! And yeah, it would probably be alot less stressful if I made more money and I didnt have to worry about how I am going to pay my bills. And even tho I have bad credit and I can’t afford to do a total bathroom remodel, I know that if I die tomorrow, Noone else is gonna give a shit that my bathroom is horrible and that my credit card payment is past due, well the credit card company will, but, too bad for them!
That’s just how I see it, how I feel, sometimes. I know that those photos will bring a smile to the family when they look back on them. They will also bring sadness. When I look at photos of my Grandparents, I wish they were still here, same thing for other family or close friends thst have passed away, I cry when I look at those photos, most of the time, I do the same when I look at my photos of my pets who have passed on. But anyway, that is how working in a funeral home day after day affects me, how it can make you feel depressed about death and well, life in general .
Now, on the other hand, on any other given day, when you have a family who is just not cooperative, who just is not happy with anything, who make constant changes, who don’t bring in a photo for the newspaper when we have told them it is very important we have it by a certain time, otherwise it won’t be put in paper, who drag their feet bringing in clothing and when we call them they feel we are pressuring them. Then we have those who just cannot stop fighting with one another, cannot agree on anything because they don’t like eachother, all the while the person they love is laying in the prep room waiting for them to put their differences aside for an hour and plan a funeral! To maybe just not talk to one another during visitation so that it is as pleasant as it can possibly be.
I’m not sure what it is with younger people anymore. I know, I know, I was young once, but what I do know is that I was taught manners. I did not treat people I did not know like shit! I also listened to those who were older than I. If I was in public, I behaved, I said Please and Thank You and I knew that when you were at certain places, you behaved accordingly! And I’m not talking about when I was a kid, I mean when I was a teenager and in my 20’s. So why is it that I am always seeing these younger people behaving like it’s a party at a funeral home?!? Last week there were alot of younger people at the funeral home. As I was was walking thru the crowd of LOUD people, one young woman walks out of the Chapel and announces that she is going to the store and would anyone like anything cuz she’s gotta go get some more smokes! So, had she just been “talking” to another person and not yelling, fine, but she wasnt. It was rude! Plus,we had another family there who had their visitation that day. And yes, the food and drinks, ugh! There are signs posted that say, Please keep all food and beverages in lounge only, so why is it that three young women come walking thru with three coffee’s? When I said, “excuse me, but you cannot have beverages in the chapel, in the lounge only, thank you”. I get a dirty look, I get the roll of the eyes, or my absolute favorite, they look at you and keep walking as if they could care less! I want to go grab them by the back of their hair… But of course I can only imagine that in my mind.
A few weeks ago we had a family, it was a small family, but they were the kind that no matter what we asked or told we needed, they just were not able to do so. The notice for the paper did not get put in on time. They were pissed. They were the ones who did not get us the info on time. No photo, no additions or corrections, nothing. We told them they could come by with the info, they could call, or they could email it. Nope. So I said, screw it! I am not going to continue to call them! I had already had to call these people at least 4 times about this obit. The morning of deadline, I called them and spoke with the daughter and told her I needed the info within 15 min or the obit would not make deadline! She said, “oh, ok, I will call you right back!!” Nope. So, I just said screw it. She called back 2 1/2 hours later!!! She said, “I have the info for you and my son is on his way with the photo”! I told her, ok, but that the notice will not make it in tomorrow’s paper, so the notice will run after the fact and will have to be revised. She was, let’s say, a tad pissed! I let her bitch. I then said, as nice as possible, “we explained to you when the deadline was. There is no leway in deadlines. If we do not have it in by a certain time, then it does not run! She said that everybody always “just” says those things, that I needed to call and just explain what happened and that how can they expect a grieving family to meet deadlines!
To those of you who feel that because you are grieving that the world should just stop, it doesn’t and it wont. Never. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but it’s a fact. The world does not care whatsoever who you just lost, unfortunately and it freaking sucks! There are deadlines. Period.
Same goes for getting to church or cemetery on time. I cannot tell you how many times I have had the church call or the cemetery call the funeral home asking where the service is. Well, for one, I’m at the funeral home, so a bit impossible for me to know just where the service is at. If they had just left the funeral home, well then yes, I would know how long ago they left, I won’t know what time they will arrive, who knows what happened on the the way there! I can only guess! If the service was at church, then I have no clue. But, what I’m getting at is, being on schedule. Families do not realize that we are on a schedule. We can’t very well say, ‘hey! hurry it up, would ya’! Although we are probably thinking it! lol When we start to get a bit antsy, families sometime pick up on it and they sometime make comments to one another about it, within ear shot of us, pretty sure on purpose. But we aren’t being disrespectful, we are doing our job and our job is to make sure the funeral is going smoothly!
We recently has a disfunctional family. The deceased was only 27yrs old. There were parents and step parents and grandparents, siblings, they all came in to make arrangements. There was no spouse and only 2 minor children. With that being said, the parents were the legal next of kin. They seemed to all be getting along, then it suddenly turned. I’m not even sure how or why really, all the sudden there was just yelling and name calling and finger pointing. At one point I over heard the mother say, ‘well she/he had my last name, so it is my choice’! Then the father said, ‘I’m the one who is paying for this, so no, it’s my choice’! Then, the mother says, ‘oh, so now it’s all about the money, huh’! Back and forth for a good hour! Absolutely absurd! Then came the question of burial or cremation. Now, thank goodness they were leaning toward cremation because once the subject of who has to authorize cremation came up, the arguing started again for a moment. The father said ‘I will authorize the cremation’!! The mother then said, ‘Well if I don’t want it, then you can’t authorize it’! Dad says, ‘I am the next of kin, I can do whatever I damn well please’! Mom says, ‘No your not, I am, I gave birth to him/her, I am the legal next of kin, you need to know what you are talking about before opening up your God damn mouth’! LOL!! So imagine both of their faces when they were told that they are both equally the legal next of kin and if they could not agree on it, then there would be no cremation! Period! Well, since they wanted cremation anyway, they both signed. But, ya see where I’m goin? They all along knew they wanted cremation, but just because they couldn’t get along they had to fight about it when all they had to do was sign a piece of paper that literally takes 30 seconds to sign. You would have thought that was the easy part, to sign the cremation authorization, but the easiest part was actually them agreeing to separate the cremated remains! ! Ugh!
So, of course this being a younger person, we always expect a large visitation. And we always expect a large part of that visitation to be younger people (the younger people I was speaking of earlier). We happened to get two new calls just the following day after this young persons family had made and finalized the arrangements. We really don’t like to add another family into the mix when we know how crowded it will be. Our place is not that big. We can hold two families comfortably, average size families I suppose you could say. So one family comes in early the following morning and no problems, it was only a direct cremation, no visitation. The second family we have a hard time getting to make appointment for arrangements. They kept saying we’ll just come by later, well, no, you wont! Later, we will not be here! So, when they had not come in by 4pm or called we had to call them and tell them we HAD to set appointment with them for the following day. The granddaughter who was the informant asked if her grandpa would be ready for them to see when they came in! What!?! No! We don’t know what you want even! What casket. We don’t even have clothing! When we told her no, she said, “well I don’t see the point in coming in if he will not be,ready for us to see, we need our closure and our private time with our granpa”! Again, we explained that they have to come in to the funeral home to meet with a Director to make those arrangements, when to see him, what casket, bring us something to put on him, etc! She then asked that once they made those decisions, how long would they have to sit and wait until we put his clothes on him so they could see him because she had a lot of family she needed to let know! We could not make her understand that it did not work that way! So my boss says, “Once you come in to the funeral home to make and finalize the funeral arrangements, which include viewing, any services here or at church or none at all, what day do you want the viewing and service, also if you will be having a burial or cremation and if burial, which cemetery and does your granpa already own property at cemetery, you will also need to decide on a casket, etc.., I am a bit confused as to what you want right now, so it is best if you would come in now and we can figure it out, but just so that we are clear, without those decisions being made, you grandfather will not be available to be viewed. You have not clearly stated if you wish for embalming to be done yet, which is something I really need to know asap and technically at this point, by law, since he is in our possession and it has been over 48hrs, I need to embalm him regardless, but I won’t until I have your permission “. We only require a verbal authorization for embalming from the next of kin. However, in this case, my boss decided that he wanted to wait until she came in. With ALL of that being said… The granddaughter says…are you ready? She sayd, “…ugh, I really just don’t have the time for all of this right now. I am running in a marathon this weekend and now having to contact all these friends and family, it’s just so much”!
W T F ?!?!?! And.. she was freaking serious!! After that, my boss said to her that she HAD to come in that day. That he needed her to come in and take care of this immediately, that it would not take more than an hour of her time, he would do his best to make this as speedy as possible! She finally agreed and set a 11am appt. Well, 11am came and went. At Noon, my boss calls her. No answer! Leaves her a message. At 1pm, he tries again. No answer. Finally around 1:30pm, she shows up! ! For someone who just doesn’t have any time, she was at the funeral home making arrangements, for over 3hrs!!!!!!!
Had she bothered listening and paying attention to my boss, she would have been done in less then an hour!
Needless to say, after ALL that, she decided ok a direct cremation with a half hour viewing, just her and her other whack job sister. Makes my head spin just thinking about her!
So, I startes,this post a few days ago, just finished it and realized tomorrow is Thanksgiving. To all those out there who think I hate my job, I do not! I am thankful every day I have a job and a wonderful boss. I hope you all have a great holiday and you stuff yourselves on lots and lots of food!!