Life working at a funeral home – Just some ramblings

So I’m trying to keep up and blog alittle more instead of waiting so long in between..
I wanted to blog a bit today about some stuff I was thinking about and most likely my usual rantings…
First thing I wanted to write about is all the articles I read on line about funeral homes and how we are always trying to charge people so much or how these articles talk about how funeral homes won’t disclose their prices, their GPL’S (General Price List) and how funeral homes are required to do so but make it so hard for the consumer to get one. I cannot speak for other funeral homes, I can say that the funeral homes in my area gladly present their GPL when asked, including the one I work at. We get many people who come in and ask for a GPL and they are always readily available. If and when people call us for pricing, we also gladly do so. Never ever have we told anyone that we will not give them pricing. Even when families come in to make arrangements, we give them a gpl. We are, by law, required to give them when asked, but again, why wouldn’t we give them out!?! In these same articles, I often see that they talk about why funeral homes in the same area have such price differences. Again, speaking in terms of my area only, the price variances are not that great. What I mostly see as far as price difference is in the Basic Services and Embalming, then maybe what they charge for Hearse, and then merchandise. So for instance, Funeral Home A may charge  $1700 Basic Services of Funeral Director & Staff and $800 Embalming. Funeral Home B may charge $2000 Basic Services and $500 Embalming. Give or take. So it’s where that particular funeral home charges more or less for certain things, but pretty much adds up to be around the same as the other funeral home. There is also charges for ‘Other Prep of body’, which is approximately  $400, again F.H. A may charge $400 and F.H. B may charge $350. When it comes to hearses, some funeral homes own their own hearse and or Limos, so they may be able to charge less then a funeral home who does not own their own vehicles. Funeral Homes who do not own their vehicles get them from local companies that they usually have worked with for years and since that funeral home obviously has to pay that company a fee, they have to make up some of that cost, so that gets passed on to the consumer. And rightfully so. If we did not, we would be paying for it and not making any money and being a business, just like any other business, that is how we keep our doors open, pay employees, purchasing office supplies, funeral upkeep, heat, electric, etc….Anyway, then there are charges for merchandise. Caskets, Vaults, these are items we purchase from the Casket companies and Vault Companies. We purchase these items from them, we up the cost. Maybe F.H. A sells a particular casket for $1250 but F.H. B sells it for $1500. It just depends.. but F.H. B may only charge $500 for a CRB (concrete rough box) and F.H A charges $695. What I think these people who write these articles are only looking at the prices but not comparing ‘WHY’ certain items are more at one place and less at the other, if they looked closely they could see that basically the prices are pretty close in comparison.
Another topic that irritates me is, Embalming and how these articles talk about how it is not necessary but the funeral home will tell you it is, how there are services available that do not require embalming. Yes, there are services that do not require embalming, but those services typically do not allow for viewing/visitation. They also state that funeral homes are required to have refrigeration, that may be true in some States, but not all. Mine does not.
There is always those people who come in for viewing and say things like, “he looks so good” or “it doesn’t even look like him”. We have had people mad because their loved one doesn’t look like the way they remember them then we have families that can’t thank us enough because their loved one looks so good. . We have had people actually complain to us, but let me just say that the people who usually do the complaining are not even family members. They seem to think they are doing the family a favor by telling us that “they” think we could have done a better job. This doesn’t happen often, it’s happened maybe three times out of all the years I have worked at a funeral home. People also like to feel they are important so they will come to us and tell us that the family needs more prayer cards or the family is upset about something or the family needs more time or they tell us that they will come back and gather all the family items so the family doesn’t have to worry about it. What they don’t understand is, we aren’t going to release any items to anyone but the family unless the family specifically tells us that a specific person may come to get them. Same thing with food (my favorite), people call all day long asking if food is allowed. I want to say NO, but I cant! People feel it’s this big deal that they want to deliver all this food but don’t want the family to know who brought it. Believe it or not, all families don’t bring food or want food, they are far and few, but nonetheless, some just don’t want any. So I think it’s important not to overstep, your intentions may be good, but stop and think for a moment. Also, I’ve been thru death before, having a funeral, spending all day at a funeral home. Yes, you get hungry, but most of the time, everyone else ends up eating that food you brought in, not the family. The family is too busy with guests. So basically you are feeding people you don’t know.. if you want to only have that food for the family, send it to their home, AFTER the funeral or in the days leading up to the visitation. The family is busy, they are most likely tired and sad. They will appreciate it more if they don’t have to cook or worry about what they are going to eat. So, in speaking of families and food.. We recently had a family who brought in some food, for themselves, ONLY! They came in with some donuts, cookies, a lunch meat tray and some bread. It really wasn’t that much however, when they came in they said to us, “could you please put this some place no one else will see it, we would like to have it later and last time we were here (the mother had died about a year ago and this funeral was the father), we brought in food but never got any of it because everyone else who came in for visitation ate it all”! Uhhhm, well, then you shouldn’t bring it in at all. And, where are we supposed to put it! Well, needless to say a few hours later they were hungry and asked if they could have their food set out. All we did was put their stuff in our storage closet. It’s not refrigerated, but it’s cold enough. So we got it out and set it on their table in lounge and thet started eating. About an hour goes by and they came to one of our greeters and asked them if they were going to put their food away? A this point I said, “No”! We don’t really have the time to stand around and watch to see,when you all are done eating and to go get it out each time they wanted something. So anyway, it’s just funny how most people bring in a ton of food because they think they have to feed every visitor that shows up but then here are these people who don’t want anyone to get any!
And…why is that the shortest visitations always have the most food!?! We have quite a few visitations that are 3 hours sometimes even 2 hours, they are usually cremation afterward, so everything concludes in same day. But these are the families who always bring in the most food and sit in lounge the entire time.
Then there are just the downright nutty families. Everyone in the family seems to be just totally loopy! I’m not kidding either. People are just whacked out anymore. Had a funeral couple weeks ago…every single one of them was just nuts. Either slurring their words and just acting odd and the other half all angry. Caught one lady stuffing tissues into her purse. Not the whole box, but actually taking each tissue out of the box and stuffing them in there. Not just a few, but like 2 whole boxes!  not joking!
Well, hope everyone has a great Christmas! !
and a Happy New Year if I don’t post before then!

4 Responses to “Life working at a funeral home – Just some ramblings”

  1. cody's dad Says:

    I’m jealous. I always think it would be nice to be able to get a bottle of water or a soda in a FH never mind a sandwich! In my state it’s a no no- no food or drink allowed in the FH PERIOD. I was so surprised when I first started rdg thus blog how in other states u can!

    • Here there is the issue of… We aren’t a restaurant or banquet facility so we do not carry a food license. So anything that does not require cooking or heating is allowed. Of course we do not allow alcoholic beverages either, but, that is something families tend to sneak in and we find empty bottles hid in couch cushions or just thrown in bushes outside or just left in parking lot! It amazes me that people get bent outta shape when we tell them there is no food allowed that will need to be kept warm or cooked or no crockpots. It’s like we told them the world was coming to an end! it’s unbelievable. Then they will ask why no crockpots and of course we tell them because it has to be plugged in, which can create a hazard, especially when children are present, then the issue of someone burning themselves. I cant tell you the number of times I hear, ‘Noone will get hurt or burned, I will make sure’! But, nope! Still not allowed!

  2. I agree with all your points on the GPL. By law we have to give out a GPL to anyone who asks for it, including other funeral homes. And embalming is required, by law, for any bodies viewed by the public, in my state as well.

    Many in the media have a negative take on funeral homes. I think they are expecting the worst in the funeral business. Sure, there may be unscrupulous funeral homes out there, but the honest ones far out way those. But the bad ones get the most attention and most funeral homes are judged by that.

    And you’re right, different funeral homes have different pricing because one funeral may have more staff to pay, higher utilities, nicer facilities, so they charge more than a smaller funeral home. Then there are the direct providers, who only charge for cremation and nothing else (no obits, no appointments on weekends etc..). They have less overhead so they charge less than a facility that offers full service funerals and cremations. I think the media misses that point.

    Food is always an issue. In our FH we simply tell people they cannot bring food in the facility. But we do offer catering plans that range in price. In our state we’re not allowed to have food in the same room as a body. But that is not why we don’t allow them to bring in food, it’s just because it becomes complicated and with everything else going on we have to draw the line somewhere.

    Where I work, the families are very needy and we end up dealing with a lot of details that many other funeral homes probably don’t have to deal with.

    One thing I wanted to tell you. We have a new manager at our funeral home and this guy is awesome. I know one of your (and my) pet peeves are walk ins. Well our new boss has a new policy. If a family simply walks in expecting to sit down and plan a funeral, we are to politely tell them, “I’ll be happy to sit with you for a few minutes and go over what we’ll need from you and set up a time for you to come back tomorrow and we can start planning services then.” Is this guy great or what? LOL.

    Well, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!!

    • I wish we didn’t allow food! We don’t allow food in the chapel with the body either, our lounge is separate. Alot of times we get bitched at by families if we have two or more in for visitation because they have to share the lounge. But we always warn them ahead of time. We try to persuade a family who is just insists on visitation same day as another if the other is,going to be large. But most of the,time they insist and so comes the,day of and guess who is complaining!
      I’m so happy you got a great new manager!! Beats the other b.s. you were dealing with! If I could tell a walk in they had to come back, I so would! actually I have, but only if I am swamped and alone. altho my boss is great, he is extremely laid back so not much phases him or upsets him, so a walk in is nothing to him! lol
      Happy Holidays! !

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