Life at a funeral home – I’m still here

Posted in Uncategorized on April 11, 2016 by thefuneralbizz

just wanted to let ya’ll know I’m still here..
Have had alot going on the last few months. Hopefully I will have a new post soon.
Take care!

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Life a Funeral Home-Ugh

Posted in Uncategorized on February 2, 2016 by thefuneralbizz

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!

Life working at a funeral home – Just some ramblings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 22, 2015 by thefuneralbizz

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!

Life working at a funeral home-Yep, it’s the busy season

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 25, 2015 by thefuneralbizz

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!!

Life working at a funeral home – Been a long time!!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 5, 2015 by thefuneralbizz

I know…it’s been forever since I posted!!

It’s summer, so I guess that’s my only excuse. That and the fact that to be honest, I haven’t had much new stuff to blog about. People are still the same…the funeral home is still the same…

It has been getting busier over the last month. Seems August is our slowest month out of the year. And we all took advantage of our downtime. Whether it was taking vacation or just sitting around watching tv, taking naps (LOL)..really, we did! Taking off in the middle of the day to do errands we would otherwise have to do after work or on weekends, taking long lunches… or just going home for a while. Thank God I have a cool boss! As long as someone is at work, then we can come and go as we please…but of course any work has to be done. When I say we have been slow with lots of downtime, what I mean is, we still have death calls, but very few. There is also little things that come up. People call all the time for things. Lots of calls because maybe they need a death certificate for a loved one who passed away a few months ago or even 20yrs ago! Some want or need certified, others just want a photo copy. We also get lots of calls from peoplr who want to know if we have old obits. Now, there is a good chance we may. Years ago they didn’t keep as many records as we do now. But, sometimes what they did was actually cut out the obit from the newspaper and glue it to the file. I’ve had people call asking for an obit on someone who passed away back in the 1940’s and low and behold…they kept the obit! Now days when we submit an obit to the paper, it’s usually done on line or by email. Once the news paper receives the notice, they will either call us with a read back and cost or they email it to us as an attachment with the cost. I always print the attachment and put it in the file. Sometimes one of us will cut it out of the paper and glue it to the file, but not that often. If those older files do not have a copy of the obit, they would usually write down on the file somewhere what paper the obit was placed in. Keep in mind, not everyone puts an obit in any of the newspapers. You wouldn’t believe the calls we get from people asking us why so and so has no obit in the newspaper! I mean these people are actually mad because there is no obit!! It’s not like it’s up to us to decide if the family wants to place an obit!! Trying to explain to callers why there isn’t one is just as frustrating as them asking! I mean, really, what else can we say other than, the family did not want to place an obit in the paper.. They still ask Why NOT?!? HOW IS EVERYONE GOING TO KNOW?!? Ugh! And I’m thinking to myself…Well, YOU KNEW! And I’m sure you’ll tell everyone now anyway! Same goes for our website. We don’t charge to place it on our website, but yet, there are families who just don’t want it on there! I don’t know why either…We don’t ask!! So again, trying to explain that one to the cranky person on the phone!  Honestly, if someone calls and asks why, really it’s not any of your business why the family decided not to place one! But anyway… there are lots of other things to be done during our down time, cleaning out files, they can get really stuffed, with junk we really just don’t need. Any notes that were scribbled down while we were working with family, fax submission pages, etc.

Of course death certificates are still my biggest pet peeve. People are just so freaking irritating when it comes to death certificates! I don’t mean that people don’t deserve to get them, but just how they feel they are the one and only thing that matters!! If you are waiting on one that is Pending because you want to know cause of death, well yeah, that’s important to know.. But, like we tell every single family that is waiting for a death certificate to be amended…You can get the autopsy report from the Medical Examiner!! Do they listen? Nope! They still insist on calling and bitching at us!! I also get people who insist there was no reason that the death certificate should be pending. I am not disagreeing with you…I am only telling you WHY it is! There are tests that take time to run and without those results, a death certificate cannot state cause of death! I understand that your loved onehad cancer or whatever, but there was some reason why the Medical Examiner took posession of their body and did an autopsy!! Believe me when I say that the Medical Examiner is not going to take a body unless they absolutely have to! What I do hate is when the Medical Examiner will tell the family they will have cause of death in a few says to few weeks. This leads the family to believe that they will receive a death certificate with cause of death.. It just means that the Medical Examiner has determined cause and that the family may purchase the autopsy report! I tried my best to explain this to a family the other day, but all they kept saying was, “…the Medical Examiner said so”! Well.. then, call the M.E. then when I tell you we still don’t have it four weeks from now!

Ok.. so, I have found recently or maybe I should say I have recently realized, that people are just downright freaking strange!! Now, I have been know to bitch alot people’s behavior, how rude and disrespectful they are, but I’m talking just weird..weird, strange, creepy… What is with people!! For instance, the other day some one was at the door.. I was lucky enough to be the one who got to answer it.. yes, that was sarcasm. So, I let this gentleman in, he was maybe late 50’s. He came by because he had a question about a relative who passed away a few months ago. He asked me if I could tell him who handed his relatives funeral arrangements. I said sure, but I couldn’t give him any phone number or address, but I could give him a name. I told him who the person was. He said, ‘oh, I know that, what I meant was who is handling her affairs, her money, will, that sort of stuff, an attorney name’? So..I said, ‘well, we wouldn’t know that information. The only way we would know that is if for some reason the deceased had a trust set up and we were to be paid from the trust, but this person did not and the funeral had been paid in full by day of service…which was several months ago.. So of course this guy started about how the person who handled the actual funeral arrangements and was listed as the informant on the file, was a whack job and that the deceased had left him money, but the whack job informant wouldn’t give him the money so he wanted to know who had the Will..
And if we did have that info, what makes people think we would give it out? I cannot begin to say how often people will call us telling us they missed so and so’s funeral but they want to contact the family but they don’t have their address or phone number and want us to give it to them. Uhhhhh…NO. We do tell them they can leave their info and WE will contact the family. We also get calls from people who will say something like, ‘one of my co-workers mother/father/whoever passed away but I do not know the deceaseds name, only my coworkers name, can you tell me what the deceaseds name is if I give you my coworkers name’? Well, if im fact we are not busy and we only have one or two people in state then normally that isnt a problem as long as family members are all listed on file or by some chance the deceaseds name is same as the coworkers name..but sometimes it isnt that easy. Especially when the person calling isnt even sure they have the correct funeral home!
And yes, of course I have to bring up food! People will call and say they want to have a deli tray or veggie tray delivered and they want to know where it should be delivered to. Well, when you are ordering something like that to be sent to a funeral home, the place you order it from will typically call the funeral home to verify days and time and they will deliver accordingly but we do get those people who will bring it in themselves and will ask where they should bring it in when they come, because of course they don’t want to come walking in the front door with a big tray..which, yes, we understand that. So, we always tell people to bring it in the flower delivery door, just like it was being delivered by a business. We tell them to just be sure it has the family name on it and to just walk in and leave it and it will be taken to the lounge by our staff asap. They ask.. should I knock or tell someone it is there? No, just WALK IN AND LEAVE IT AND STAFF WILL GET IT ASAP! It will not be left sitting there! So…how come every person who delivers their own crap (including flowers) has to NOT follow instructions?!? The other day I had a lengthy conversation with a woman about this very subject. I assured her several times that her veggie tray, once delivered, would not sit in the delivery room for more than a few minutes, tops! What did she do? Instead of leaving the tray as I had instructed her to do, she opened the door that leads into the funeral home and proceeded to say
“HELLO” “HELLO”!?! “I have a delivery “!! Now I was on the phone, my boss was in his office, the other two employees were up in the other part of building because the visitation was going on and at that very moment noone was able to help her ‘right away’. This is the reason we tell people to LEAVE their deliveies in the flower delivery room! I heard the buzzer when she came in so I knew something was delivered so I would have gotten it as soon as I was off the phone! But, she just had to make sure she told someone that there was a delivery!! And..there is even a sign that says, “Please leave all deliveries in flower room” except for those requiring a signature, please use bell”. She did neither. As she was yelling HELLO she was walking down the hall..a private hall! My boss heard her and asked her if he could help her..she said, ‘i have a deli tray i am dropping off’. He said, “ok, you can leave it in the delivery room and we will take care of it immediately “. She says, “Oh, ok, I just wanted to make sure someone knew it was here. I spoke to (insert my name here) and she said to deliver it to the flower delivery room”. My boss says, “ok, you did, so we’ll get it”. Now, really, all of that when all she had to do was leave it!
I need a vacation! I have yet to have one this year…it sucks!
Well…that’s all for now. I am going to try and post more, especially since summer is ending…boo!! I’ll have more time.
Hope everyone is doing well

Life working at a funeral home-Been slammed!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 2, 2015 by thefuneralbizz

Haven’t had much time to post because I have been really busy, not only with work, but most of it because of work.
We have been pretty much non stop. It was busy in March and it  continued into April, May was a bit more quiet tho, we’ll see how June goes. But, on top of being busy, there has been just stupid stuff going on at work too. Death Certificates that have been wrong and now we have to get them corrected. Which is such a pain in the ass! Regardless if it was our error or the families error. Then, there has been a few families who have used their life ins policy to assign to the funeral home, but the spouse is listed as beneficiary and that spouse has already passed away. I cannot stress enough…If you have a life ins policy and the person you have listed as beneficiary has passed away, PLEASE be sure to get that changed. 
A few times we have had a family call and want us to pick up their loved one from Hospital or Nursing Home but want to wait until we get there.. First off, we typically do not make our removals, once in a while we do, but most of the time we have a service that does it for us. Second, not all hospitals will allow us/our service to make removals from the floor/room. Most of the time they are required to go thru security and then to the morgue. Also..there are some hospitals that will tell US when we can come pick up. Then…with these particular families they want to follow the body to the funeral home. Well, our service may have another removal and may not be comming directly to our funeral home. So if we are unaware that the family has planned on following we cant let our service know and they are a bit in a situation when the family says they are following them. It is important to let the funeral home know you plan on doing that! We also get alot of families that call us and say that they want us to pick up so and so, but they are waiting on some other family members to arrive so they request we wait an hour or so. So we will forward that info to our service. They will wait then go. So…the other day a family requested that we wait until 2pm. Ok..so we told the service that. Well, at 2:10pm the family is calling wanting to know why we have not come yet! I told them they asked us to wait till after 2pm and its now only 2:10pm!! That they should be there any minute! At 2:30pm…they are calling again!
I mean, I just don’t know what people expect anymore! We are expected to jump the moment a family wants something and we usually do it, thats our job, to make sure they are getting what they want. There are those times tho when families dont show up on time for arrangements, don’t bring us clothing in a timely manner, dont supply us with all the info that is required for a Death Cert., etc.. So it becomes difficult for us to do our jobs when families are not willing to cooperate and do theirs! We do our best so as the family does not have to worry about so much and only focus on showing up on day of visitation however, there are those families that just don’t listen..We get that at this particular moment your mind is all over the place so we try not to bombard you with things that are too much to take on, but bringing in clothing, I dont think, is something that is overwhelming you… or, providing us with important information that is needed in order to continue with the funeral arrangements. Too many times the focus is on, my favorite, the luncheon or is there room available for us to bring in food, water, soda, etc..
We want you to be comfortable when using our facility, we want you to feel relaxed.. But not to the point where your kids are walking on our furniture or you have your personal items, such as sweaters, bags, diaper bags, pacifiers, shoes…yes, shoes…just strewn all over the place. You may not be the only family using the funeral home and, why would anyone not have their shoes on?!? Disgusting! We keep things clean, but its not as if we have our carpets cleaned each time after a visitation or funeral! And, what if you step on something..then who are they going to blame? The funeral home! Plus, dont MOST people know by now that all businesses require you to have shoes on! What exactly is wrong with people!?! And is it me or are people just downright crazy anymore? Most people cannot even speak properly and most seem like they have just swallowed a handful of zanax!
Oh, and name dropping.. I don’t care who you know! I really dont. Dont call and say you are such good friends with the owner, because if you are such good friends with the owner, then you would know he is retired! Or, dont call and say you are good friends or even family and ask for him or ask for his phone number! Because again, if you are such good friends, you would know he is retired and you would most likely have his phone number!
Dont call or come in when someone has passed and tell us you know the owner and so you know he will give you a discount.. I cannot tell you how many people do this. If you know him, then thats great, but dont ‘tell’ me that you are getting a discount..You are not getting one unless HE TELLS ME.
I’ve wrote before about State Aid. There is a cut off amount, meaning, you cannot exceed that amount if you plan on applying for state aid. What gets me is that people who ‘think’ the state will pay for a funeral for someone, seem to think that they are entitled to these extravagant funerals and when we explain that you cannot go over a certain amount and the state is not paying for the whole funeral, they look at you blankly, in disbelief. They say, “but I/we were told that the state will pay if the deceased had nothing..” No, thats what you ‘wanted’ to hear.. the state will only pay up to a certain amount and the family is responsible for the rest! I imagine each state differs, here they will only pay up to $600. Thats it. That doesn’t even cover the cost of a direct cremation. So if you cannot afford a big funeral, why would you expect the State (ME) to pay for it?!?
And…again, No, social security pays for nothing! There is a one time death benefit pay out to a surviving spouse or dependant child ONLY, and that amount, last time I checked, was only $250! If you are a Veteran, you still dont get alot of benefits, I think its awful that Veterans dont get more.. but they are entitled to a hesdstone/marker, burial in a national cemetery, vault/grave liner, military honors. I just somehow dont feel thats enough…
Well, sorry it’s been a while since I have posted… Hopefully things will lighten up a bit and I can post more soon!

Life at a funeral home-Yes, Death Certificates…Again

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2015 by thefuneralbizz

Yep, I know… how much can I possibly bitch about death certificates? ALOT! Because people are a pain in the ass about them!
Yes, I understand that you need them. You want them for legal matters, financial matters and to know cause of death.
The funeral home will get the INFORMANT however many certified copies they want, need, AND PAY FOR! We tell you during arrangements how much they are (depending on the city in which death occurred, it is filed at that specific clerks office and each clerk in each city has their cost for death certificates). Now, if you have a life ins policy and you want the funeral home to accept an assignment on that policy for payment of services, then more then likely the ins co. will require a cert death certificate to be sent to them along with anything else they need. Now what I don’t understand is this; A family wants us to take an assignment on a life ins policy for payment, we explain that we will contact the ins co and find out if they will accept a funeral home assignment, gather the info they will require from us and we ask how we are to get the claim forms.. 90% of the time the life ins co will require a CERTIFIED copy of the death cert. Now, since we are doing this as a courtesy for the family, we dont charge for doing all of this but alot of funeral homes do, why are families surprised when we tell them we will be taking a death cert out of the ones they ordered? Why would WE pay for one to send in to YOUR ins company in order for US to be paid for services WE provided to YOU?!? If the family were to do all the work themselves and file the death claim and not assign the policy to the funeral home, they would still be required to send in a cert death certificate!
And on to waiting for the money from the ins co. If we are taking an assignment, then we know we will be waiting on payment. If the beneficiary is to receive any funds from the policy, those funds will be sent directly to them, not us.. we explain this to the family. Now, each ins co is different in how long it takes for us to receive payment. It could be a week, three weeks, four weeks, sometimes longer.. WE know this. We are willing to wait because we know that we will get paid…anything that is due to the beneficiary is typically sent out at the same time. Now, I cannot yell you just how many times we get phone calls from families asking if we have been paid yet, which if it has been a while, I can understand.. and usually when we tell them that we have not received payment yet but that is not unusual, they are satisfied with that answer. But, there are those times when they call and when we tell them, no, we have not been paid yet, but again, its not unusual, they begin to get upset. Not upset because they are worried or concerned about us getting paid but upset because THEY are also due payment from ins co. Again, we understand you want your money, but there is nothing we can do about it. It is the claims process. We can call and get a status update but so can the beneficiary! They should be more concerned about US getting paid!
So with that being said…If a family wants us to take an assignment and the death certificate is Pending, well, sometimes we will, sometimes we wont. It is up to the boss.. But here’s the thing, if the death certificate is Pending we can still send in all the required documents except the death certificate. The life ins will typically only accept a death certificate with a cause of death. So we will let the life ins co know the death cert is Pending and they will tell us that the claim will not be paid out until they receive an amended death certificate. So once we do receive that amended death cert we forward it to the life ins co. What have I said in the past about Pending death certificates? They can take up to 9 months to be amended, that is why we may not accept an assignment if the death cert is Pending. But on those rare instances where we do accept an assignment, we know we will be waiting. And…we explain this to the family!! So you can imagine when a family is waiting on a death cert to be amended plus waiting for ins money.. It is not fun to have to deal with, especially when they refuse to understand and or listen to how it works. My reason for posting about this is because we are currently dealing with one of these instances now. The woman passed away in January. There was an error on the death cert., no fault of the funeral homes tho, thank goodness! But once the application for correction to amend (to enter cause of death) was forwarded to the state by the Medical Exaniner, the State found an error the Medical Examiner had made. It was a small error, something to do with the intervals of what led to the death of the deceased. So, the State sent it back to Medical Examiner to be corrected. Well, the Medical Examiner took their sweet old time in correcting their error..which has held up the death certificate. I am happy to say that as of this past Monday, the State finally received the correction, but.. Now it is up to the state to make the correction to said death certificate and then send it to the appropriate clerks office. Once the clerk has it, we can go get it. So even tho the State has it, it could still be another 4 weeks or more until we are able to get it! I agree that this whole situation sucks! The Medical Examiner took way too long to make their correction and as usual the State always takes too long! Now, even tho we have explained this time and time again to the family, they continue to call and come in and argue with us about this. And…each and every time we tell them the same thing! Just because you come in or call and yell or say we aren’t doing our jobs because you need that money, it is NOT going to speed anything up. Why? Because it has absolutely nothing to do with the funeral home! We didn’t cause the death cert to be Pending. We didn’t cause the error. We did not in anyway assist in the delay of making any corrections and…we are not the State Vital Records Division nor are we employed by them! And just because the family knows the cause of death because they received the Autopsy results, it means nothing. It only means that the Medical Examiner has completed all autopsy tests and have received all the tests back. It does not mean the death cert has been amended! It is a process…a long one, especially if you live in a large County.. Which I do. We nor anyone else can just take the death cert and white out something or cross something off and write in what we want.
After working with so many people/families over the years, you get to know how people are usually the moment you take the first call..or from the moment the family walks thru the door for arrangements. Once in a great while you get a surprise and the family you thought that was going to be a pain turns out to be very nice however, you also get the ones you think are nice and normal and they turn out to be complete whack jobs…!! So with that being said, if the death cert comes to us with a Pending listed as cause of death and we have ‘one of those’ families, we cringe. I know that no matter how much I try to explain to them what it means and how long its going to take to get the amended one, thet just aren’t going to understand, listen, or comprehend any of it and sooner or later, usually sooner, we will start getting the phone calls and the yelling about us not getting them a death cert with cause of death.. And its usually because there is a life ins policy or some other financial matter they need it for. I am in no way saying that they really dont need the money from the life ins., but I guess what I mean is, there are some instances where the person or persons who are due this money had no responsibility for paying any of the funeral charges or cemetery charges, they were simply listed as a beneficiary or one of the beneficiaries on the policy. And to be honest, those are the ones who are relentless on accusing us of not getting them an amended death cert.
Then there are those families where noone gets along and everyone from the next of kin to the best friend feels they are entitled to a death certificate. When we explain that we will only supply a death cert to the informant listed and they need to contact that person or go to the clerk and get one themselves, they become irritated with us..then some will try the sob story on us, ‘oh, I just don’t get along with so and so and I know they won’t give me one, can i please just get a photocopy from you?’ I’ve heard all kinds of sob stories and…NO, you cannot just get a copy. Not a photocopy or a certified copy. Go to the clerk and purchase one yourself! In my state they are public record! I have people tell me they cant afford to pay for one, well if we were to get you one, you would still have to pay for it. If there is some sort of legitimate reason why someone other than the next of kin or informant may need a death cert., maybe they are traveling to another country, then we could provide them with a photocopy. When someone asks us for a death cert for their work as proof of them attending the visitation and or funeral…No, noone should require someone to show a death cert to their employer as proof of attendance. A note from the funeral home should be all you need, that or a copy of the death notice. I alsi get alot of people, usuallt younger people, who ask if they can get a note for workm but they aren’t related to the deceased…well, thats fine, but when we are asked to put down that they are the deceaseds sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc…and they are non of those things, well, no, we aren’t going to do that. The only reason someone would want us to lie about that is because their employer probably only excuses them if in fact they are an immediate or close relative. There have been those times when I have lied and just put down what they ask me to put down, but I only do it if I know that the person asking was close to the deceased or their family and there has been a couple of times when I just don’t feel like dealing with someone..lol
When it comes to families who just do not get along and everyone hates each other and maybe the person who had passed is young, there may be two sets of parents and the mom and dad just do not get along and the step parents do not get along with the ex’s or there are children and step children of the deceased who dont get along, etc.. Whoever initially comes in to make the arrangements for the deceased is listed as the informant. Unless that person gives us permission to release information to someone else. I just had this happen, a young man passed awat, he was in his late 20’s. He was married. His wife and him had three children. His parents were divorced, but the father was remarried. This young man died at home. His wife found him several hours later when she returned home from work. She called his mom.. then of course she contacted the local authorities and they contacted the Medical Examiner who picked him up and preformed an autopsy. The mother of the deceased contacted us to let us know she wanted to use our funeral home. She told us he was at the Medical Examiners office and we set up an appt for arrangements. When we spoke with her on the phone and took the required info from her, we asked her who the next of kin was. She said it was her. Now when you have been doing this work for a while, there are just certain things that you know to ask because someone who is in their late 20’s could possibly be married. So.. we asked, is he married? She said yes. So, we explained that his wife is his legal next of kin. Well, she apparently didn’t like that answer. She said that she is his mother!! Ok…whatever…I am not going to sit on the phone and argue about it. But there could potentially be an issue if the mother comes in to make arrangements and the wife disagrees. Now, if they want cremation, then the wife MUST authorize cremation, no if’s and’s or but’s about it. It doesn’t even matter if the mom is going to pay for the funeral…the wife is the next of kin! Now, there may be some confusion as to what people read or hear.. Yes, anyone can arrange someones funeral. Your neighbor can arrange your funeral. But, only the next of kin can legally have you cremated (im my State). What I mean is, say you live alone, you do not have any family, you are close to your neighbor. The neighbor cam arrange your funeral and burial. In some instances, yes, they “may” be able to cremate you. As long as they know for a fact that you had no living family that you are aware of and then a waiver needs to be signed. If however, there is a distant nephew lets say.. well, that nephew is the next if kin and every effort needs to be made to contact him, by the person arranging the funeral. It is NOT the funeral homes responsibility to search for any relatives of the deceased. It is not our responsibility to search records for anyone! If you come in and tell us you are the only child, or you are the deceaseds spouse, then we as the funeral home have to trust what we are being told. It is up to the family to be honest with us.. we have to take the families word. 

That’s all for now.. I have another post coming soon.. Hope every one is well.. I know that I am glad that the weather has finally warmed up…yay!

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