Life a Funeral Home-Ugh

We have been busy!! I am literally. exhausted. . I usually don’t sleep all that well, I always wake up at least twice during the night… I think out this whole past week, I woke up once total!

on to the ranting… Like I said, we were busy. Now, we had a large visitation scheduled. This person was very well known so we knew it was going to be very crowded, which it was. This particular family came in on Saturday and made arrangements. On Monday we had another new call, they came in on Monday early afternoon. The family who came in on Saturday scheduled their visitation for Tuesday with funeral Wednesday. The family who came in on Monday wanted Tuesday as well. This was not in their best interest! We told them that typically we would not tell anyone we could not accommodate them, but in this instance we were encouraging them to go with Wednesday because well, we could not accommodate them due to the fact that we already have a visitation scheduled and we knew it was going to be packed! We explained that we would have to utilize our other chapels for the overflow of guests. They said, “No, we have to have Tuesday, there is no way we can wait until Wednesday, this is what we discussed with the rest of our family and we cannot do another day”!  Now, it could just be me, but wouldn’t you WAIT to actually make the arrangements BEFORE telling people what day it’s going to be? Wouldn’t you discuss with your family other options? Sounds crazy, I know! Well, we continued with the arrangements and at the end we told them again that they need to reconsider or we would most likely have to turn them away. We explained that never have we turned anyone away, ever! But in this case, we really did not have a choice. Well, thank goodness they decided to take our advice! They weren’t angry or anything, but had they not been flexible and we did cave and let them be there on Tuesday, they would not have been very happy. There were so many people there, the halls were packed, I couldn’t even walk thru. When I finally left work, in the parking lot, people were all over the place! It was a mad house! OH, and yes, there was LOTS of food! Pizzas, subs, cookies, vegetables and dip, chips, pop, water, brownies, gift baskets filled with crap, fruit, Chinese food even! But.. This family was one of the nicest families we have had in a very long time! As many people who were there, as much food as there was, everyone was exceptionally nice, well behaved, neat and cleaned up after themselves! it was amazing! I know that sounds absurd, but those who work in this business know what I mean. I would trade being that busy any day if families and guests were all like that!
However, the week prior, we had a family who were nice, but maybe a bit crazy, at least some of them. We were ‘warned’ about a certain family member who surely was going to create problems and most likely a scene! As I stood there listening to this person ‘warn’ us, I kept thinking to myself, How are WE being ‘warned’!?! This is bullshit! Why can’t we be the ones ‘warning’ THEM that if anyone steps out of line, we would not hesitate to end all visitation and services immediately? Why are we not ‘allowed’ to ‘warn’ them?!? After they ‘warned’ us, my boss says to them,  “well, I hope this family member does behave because we will also have another family here for visitation at the same time “. This person said, “OH NO! There will be?!? Ugh, I don’t know if that’s a good idea”! WTF!?! Really? They feel it’s not a good idea? It isn’t up to them! It’s a freaking funeral home! Most of the time when I visit other funeral homes for a friend or loved one, there is usually always more than one family there. Why is this such a big deal for people! I got that again today when the family whose viewing started today when they brought in ALL their freaking food at 10am! They wanted to see the lounge. Ok, so I show them. They say, “ok, this will work, there is plenty of space. I have a bunch of food and supplies in my car I will need to bring in, there won’t be any other families here, will there”? Uhh, “this will work”? Oh, ok. Well thank goodness, because I hate to see if it wasn’t good enough! Oh and by the way, they weren’t even having an all day visitation! So after bringing in a bunch of soda, two cases of water, three cookie platters…chips, some other family members show up with some more shit. They brought in three boxes. In the boxes were all sorts of sandwiches. I’m not talking small boxes either.. There were probably at least 50 sandwiches to a box. My coworker said to one of them, “wow, that’s a lot of sandwiches “! The lady who carried them in says, “yeah, well we will be here all day, so we are going to have to eat something”! First, no you’re not gonna be here ALL day and second, that’s enough food to feed a small army!

For those who also work at funeral homes, you all know that any day can be a busy day. There doesn’t have to be a visitation or funeral going on, no arrangements, nothing.. But we are still busy!! Of course there are those days when it’s soooooo quiet, you can’t keep your eyes open! But I always hear from people who may stop in to pick up death certificates or cremated remains, etc.. how it must be nice to have it be so quiet and have down time.. Uhhhh… well, we don’t really have THAT much downtime! I still have my mom say to me when she asks if I’ve been busy at work, I’ll tell her yes and she asks, “oh, so you have alot of funerals then”? When I say no, she ALWAYS says, “well then your not busy”. Ive tried explaining to her that just because we don’t have funerals doesn’t mean I’m not busy. I can have busier days on those days with no visitation or funerals! There is just so much that goes on, I don’t think people realize that. For instance today, no visitation or funerals but yet I didn’t stop all day! I had a lady call because she needed a photo copy of her father’s death certificate from 2002. I had a family who came in because they wanted to order an urn, a special urn with a certain carving on the wood and then engraved, I had a body that had to go to the crematory, I had three death certificates that needed to be filed (in three different cities), I had several bills to do, I had to type a death certificate, order some pendants for a family, had another family come in to pick up their loved ones cremated remains, I had to contact a life insurance company about a claim / assignment we submitted, I had to contact our local funeral directors association, I had a couple of letters I needed to type, and I had all end of month stuff to complete and in the middle of all of that, the phone is still ringing!
So it bothers me when people assume all we do is sit around when we dont have a visitation or funeral!
Ok.. I’m done for now. I am really trying to blog more!!
hope you all are doing well and getting thru the winter (those of you who have to deal with cold and snow)!
Happy Ground Hog Day!


6 Responses to “Life a Funeral Home-Ugh”

  1. Hi Bizz. Hope you are well. Looks like another day in paradise for you. Haha.

    Well today I had an interview for a funeral arranger! OMG I was nervous! I think I did good. I said most of what I wanted to say and think I came across as knowledgeable and reasonably intelligent. Despite a traditional heritage in dealing with funerals, they wanted more a contemporary and fresh approach. I don’t know if I focused too much on previous experience but I think fundamentally, they can see I was willing to learn and fast! I think anyone too young won’t be able to cope with the emotional aspects of the job, you need a bit of life experience, not particularly academic in order to relate to people. I just wish I hadn’t worn a black trouser suit despite a nice purple shirt underneath.

    Oh well, all I can do is wait…..

    I’m going out my mind!!!

    • Hi there!! That’s so awesome about your job interview! ! So excited for you. When will they be making a decision, do you know? I will keep my fingers crossed for you. Let me know as soon as you hear something.

  2. AdminAsst Says:

    I feel for you. We’re very busy right now too (we’re getting 4 a day right now). Add to that, we’re understaffed. But we have a great manager and he said, if we have to, he is willing to lose business because of the fact that we are so busy. He is good with families and he can talk to them gently to a point where the families won’t get mad if we cannon accommodate them.

    Oh and you will love this. The manager absolutely, positively HATES walk ins. He said the new policy is that we call the family as soon as we pick up the body, no matter what time of day or night to set up an appointment for the following day. And if someone simply walks in, the policy is to say to them “Well, let’s sit down for a few minutes while I get some preliminary information and we’ll set up an appointment for you for tomorrow.”

    Speaking of copies of death certificates, last month a woman called about her cousin’s monument. She said her name never got engraved on it and they wanted to get it engraved but there was some discrepancy with her birth date. The cousin died in the late 1980s. So I went to the attic to go through the old files we have. I found the woman’s file and guess what? The bill was never paid! I suspect the woman’s son, who was responsible for the bill and never paid it, asked the cousin to call. Anyway, when she called back, I advised her that we couldn’t locate the file. We advised her to call the clerk’s office for that information.

    • Geeeezus, 4 a day!! we’ve have had 4 in a day, but never everyday…but then again, we are a small funeral home. We have so many funeral homes in our area as well. There are 4 just on our street! 3 of them, including ours, within a mile or less of eachother! The walk ins that I absolutely HATE, are those who walk in when we have a funeral service in process. Parking lot full of cars, a Hearse parked out front…and in walks a family who when they walk in act as if they had no idea there was a funeral. Don’t ya just love it when people who never pay their bill call at some point wanting something? Wether it be because someone else in family passed away, more d/c’s, etc.. also when people just call for more d/c’s and you tell them they can go get them themselves at the clerk’s office, they STILL want us to go get them for them?!? I tell them we will, but we won’t make an extra trip just for theirs, we will go next time we are going to that clerk’s office and they must pay us BEFORE we will go! They always seem to be just appalled! We aren’t a personal errand service! I’m so happy for you that you finally have a good manager!! makes working so much better!

      • Speaking of families who don’t pay, we had a call today from a woman who we handled her mother’s arrangements about 5 or 6 years ago and she never completed paying us. She made payments but eventually stopped making payments with over $3,000 on the bill. Anyway, her sister passed away last night and she called us today and wanted us to handle her sister’s arrangements. The funeral director told her the new policy is to pay for serves at the time of the arrangements. She didn’t like that. She kept saying “But 5 years ago I could make payments.” The funeral director told her that we had no choice but had to have payment at the time of the arrangements. She didn’t get it. She kept calling and calling. Ugh. The FD tried to be diplomatic with her without bringing up the fact that she stilled owed us over $3,000 for her mother’s funeral. Finally he told her she’d have to call another funeral home. Okay, what part of, “You didn’t pay your last bill, why would we expect you to pay your sister’s funeral bill?” does she not understand?

      • they never understand. for some reason we are expected to ‘not’ ask for payment or be insistent in our payment polices because, how could we demand money from anyone who is dealing with a death!?! I hate that. I’m glad he told her to go elsewhere.

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