Archive for death

Life at a funeral home – stuff

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2017 by thefuneralbizz

Who has the right to pick up the cremated remains from the funeral home? The person who is handling the funeral arrangements aka the informant, the person paying the bill. Usually, but not always, the informant is the next of kin. If the informant tells us that someone else is allowed to pick them up, then fine, but NOT UNLESS they tell us and tell us who that person is! I don’t care who you are or what your relationship to the deceased is, unless we were told specifically by the informant that you are allowed to pick them up, you are not getting them! It’s not because we are being mean, it’s because we have to follow certain rules. Say for instance you are the deceaseds sibling but the deceaseds child made the arrangements and is listed as informant (and is the legal next of kin), but you feel that you have the right to pick up your brothers/sisters cremated remains. Regardless of how I even feel about it, it’s not us to make that call. That is why we have what is called the informant  (contact person). If you feel that you should be able to pick them up, discuss this with your family and if you disagree, again, discuss it with your family not the funeral home! Same goes for the death certificates,  which I’ve talked about several times. And it does not matter to me or make one bit a difference if you tell me that they won’t mind. we’ve heard it all before and in the end only to be yelled at and held accountable by the informant and it makes the funeral home look bad and incompetent.

As far as picking things up from the funeral home, such as the cremated remains, any cremation jewelry, death certificates, work excuses, your flowers after your fineral, etc.. If we are closing at our normal business hours   (which will mean if we are not having a visitation) you will have to come before we close or wait until the following day. I’m not sure why people think we are in the office 24/7. We are available for ’emergency’ calls or first calls 24/7, not because you need an excuse for work, or even because you need to drop off clothing. If we know we are waiting on clothing, we make it clear to those families what time you have to have the clothing to us. If we tell you we close at 6pm, we close at 6pm! Not 6:30pm. Do not show up after that time, realize we are closed then call the funeral home, get the answering service and act as if you have been inconvenienced because YOU showed up late without calling to inform us that you are running late and ask if will be there or if someone can wait or meet you at a certain time.

If you call the funeral home after business hours you will be speaking to our answering service. Our answering service follows a guideline when taking calls. They will gather information from the caller to pass on to the person/director on call. This seems to annoy some people. They are only doing their job, correctly. I understand emotions run high when a death occurs but the info they are asking is necessary.

Now, I feel as if some people just don’t grasp the concept of BEING ON TIME. When you plan a funeral everything that happens once you finalize those arrangements is usually time sensitive. We, the funeral home are now on a tight schedule. From the obit to getting the deceased dressed and casketed. It becomes extremely frustrating to us when things do not run smoothly and ON TIME and we do have to rely on the family for certain things. You want a photo for the obit, you need to have it to us by the deadline! Otherwise, its not going to be published, there is no being a few minutes late. Clothing always seems to be a big issue, I don’t know why! We always tell the family we must have clothing by such and such day/time! It never fails that they never bring it on timer nor do they call to let us know they are running late. It is so important for us to get the clothing because we must cosmetize the deceased, if a woman her hair more than likely needs to be styled…There are just a lot of little things to be done and done ON TIME.

If your loved one is near death then spend your time with them. Too many people want to come in and go over things while their loved one may pass at any minute. You will only have to come back to the funeral home once they pass anyway. There are also times when someone is put into hospice care or taken off life support and the family assumes that death will occur very soon after that. That is not always the case. It could very well take only minutes or hours but there are times, more often then not, where the person has lived for days, weeks, even months. You just don’t know, you can’t predict those things.  Hospice workers as well as hospital staff tell families that they should be preparing because death is imminent. Well, there is not that much you can do as far as pre planning/pre paying. If your loved one is near death and not expected to make it much longer…..stay with them! Pre planning is always a good idea, but its meant to be done before death in near. Do it well in advanced so it doesn’t have to be something you or your family has to worry about at the last dayts of your life. If you come to us when your loved one could be taking their last breath at any moment, sure we can get everything wrote down, but to pre payat that time is pretty much useless. First, the funeral home cannot just hold your money. The money yoiu pay us goes to a pre need company that holds that money in a Trust so to speak. Once that person passes, we fill out a form and send that form to this company along with a death certificate. The company then turns around and pays us that money. So its just senseless to do all that paperwork when more than likely yoiu loved one will pass before the pre need company even receives it all…So, just spend those last hours, days with your family. If you want, write down what it is they want, cremation, burial, what cemetery, church service or service at funeral home, then write down the info needed for the death certificate (vital info), like date of birth, social security number, place of birth, parents names, mothers maiden name, highest level of education, if the person is a veteran and ask where the veterans discharge paper (dd-214) is located, etc. Of course I am not saying not to pre plan because I sincerely feel it is a very good idea to do so and not just because I work at a funeral home, but had I never got into the funeral business I would not have known just how important and how much easier it really does make things so much easier. Not only because it’s paid for (and you do not have to prepay, just getting everything wrote down and picked out and kept on file at the funeral home) but it eliminates the guessing your family will have to do and yes, the disagreements or arguing. There is also now a form that you can fill out and have signed which will allow you to appoint anyone you wish to be in charge of making your arrangements. This is new to the State I am in buyt I understand its been available in other States for a while. This was not available here until about a year or year and half ago and I don’t believe many are aware of this. If you do not have family or you just do not want your family, for whatever reason, plan your funeral you should definitely look into filling these forms out, ask your funeral home about these papers!!

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Life working at a funeral home – SO BUSY

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2017 by thefuneralbizz

First off, I got a new tablet and I haven’t mastered this keyboard yet and so there will be a lot of spelling errors…my apologies!

Secondly, I have not posted in a long time…I have a lot to write about, but of course its mainly about how truly awful people are. So yes, this post will once again be me venting and bitching! sorry, but this is why I started this blog, to vent my frustrations!! So let’s begin the bitch fest!

I’ve about had it with people, had with the way people feel its ok to speak to others so rudely. How everyone is so quick to pass the blame or take out their bad day in people they have never met before. How people have become so demanding! Its not only those planning a funeral either, it can be a simple phone call asking a question, but just gotta be a smartass or rude, or don’t like the answer… Especially if your calling for pricing. You called and asked me to give you a price. I give you that price and you don’t like it. You have the option of saying a few things. You can simply sand Thank You and end the call. You can ask for differnt prices of other options, you can say ok, that’s out of my price range but thank you for your time…. I don’t see the need for any rude remarks. I don’t see any need for anyone to start bitching about how “I” charge way too much just to rip people off, etc. You don’t like the price, that’s fine, just say thanks good bye! 

When we are assisting you in planning a funeral, there are SEVERAL questions that need to be asked. We aren’t doing it just to piss you off! I would say most of the questions that we ask come in the beginning of the arrangement. Those questions are the info we need for the death certificate. You know, those death certificate’s everyone thinks are gold and just have to have them now! Well, without the info we cannot get you any! We always explain before starting with the questions why we are asking, yet it never fails that we get asked, “….what are ais these for, and why are these questions necessary”? So we go back and explain again! Its as if we are wasting their time. Its irritating. Know what else is irritating…When you have a family come in and there are several family members and they all talk over you and get off track and the arrangement lasts for two hours! Then while we are trying to get questions answered and trying to do all the work so the family doesn’t have to.. We sometime step away into another office to make those calls especially if there are a lot of people in the arrangement office, because they can’t be quiet long enough for us to be on the phone. So while we are making phone calls on behalf of the family, the family is in the arrangement office, we usually leave them to pick out prayer cards or flowers other times we just say that we will be a few minutes. Well the other day, we had to call the cemetery and while on the phone, which was approximately 10 minutes, here comes one of the family members. My boss was on the phone in another office and I was in mine. The person who came walking into the office was one of the deceaseds sons. I said hello and he said, “where’s that guy that was meeting with us, we need to get this wrapped up and get a move on, we still need to pick out the flowers and my sisters don’t feel like sitting around here anymore”. REALLY?? That irritated me. You need to get this wrapped up and tired of sitting around here? Well, we could have told you to call the cemetery yourself, we could have told you to go get your own flowers, but no. That “guy” you were meeting with is the Funeral Director and he TOLD you that he was going to call the cemetery for you and he would be back in a few minutes, it make take a few… So I said to him that the DIRECTOR is on the phone with the cemetery getting YOU and your family the information you will need and he will be done once he gets that information for you, so you can go ahead and go back to the arrangement office and the director will be back once he finishes up. He simply just walked away. Its just bothersome that noone can just take into consideration that WE are actually helping you. If we didn’t do these things then it would be that we aren’t helping you enough! Also this particular family wanted a specific day for viewing and funeral, unfortunately we could not accommodate them for the days they wanted, we already had two other families there for visitation and funeral services. Believe me when I say we do not like telling anyone we cannot accommodate them for the dates they want. Well, they were not happy about it and asked why there was nothing we could do.. My boss explained to them the reason why and he apologized and discounted their funeral charges, but that was still not enough.. He just came out and told them that there was nothing he could do and if they needed to go to another funeral home then that’s what they should do and he wouldn’t charge them the transport fee. In the end they stayed with us but made it clear they were disappointed. Ok, so we are fully aware you are not happy about it, so are you going to keep bitching about it? So finally they were on their way, thank God. That same day we had another arrangement about an hour later, it was close to the end of the day and I had been running my ass off. Before the next arrangement came in, my boss was in the embalming room, I was working on all the funeral arrangements and answering the phones. The family who had just left called. It was one of the daughter’s of the deceased. She wanted to know if there was anything at all we could do to accommodate them for the day they wanted!! Were you not just here for almost two hours discussing this! No, I’m sorry, there is not one single thing we can do! On to the next arrangement, not as stressful as the other one but during that arrangement, someone is at the door. I answer it and it’s the other family! They have “things” they need to drop off…. I asked what they had and if there is a lot. They say, yes there is a lot, food, soda pop, snacks, pictures, and the deceaseds violin!! They have a stand for it and NEED to set it up! I told them they could bring it in, but could not set it up because there is a body in the chapel whose funeral is in the morning! They of course were not happy about this and said they HAD to set it up and can’t they just place it in back of the chapel? No, you cannot, there will be a family in there tomorrow along with their friends and family, I don’t think they will understand why your mothers violin is in their room! So, they said they had to bring in their food. I had to explain to them they were welcome to bring it in but we would have to put it all in the storage closet until after the other family leaves, again, not pleased with anything I was telling them! I told them I would leave the door unlocked for them so they could bring in their things. I’m pretty sure they expected me to help them and if I had not been so busy I may have, but at this point I was fed up with them. They even asked ifthere wasn’t another door closer they could use. Unfortunately there is not and I was given the “ugh, ok”. Because somehow its my fault. Maybe you just don’t need to bring in ALL that CRAP! On to day of visitation, big family, lots of kids! No one bothered to watch these screaming misbehaved children who thought it would be ok to color on the bathroom walls with their crayons! They were obviously bored being stuck at a funeral home all day because at one point they decided to make about 20 cups of coffee using all the cream and sugar and make a horrendous sticky mess and put the empty coffee pots back on the hot burners! First of all WHYwere they allowed to play with HOT coffee!! I just don’t get it!! They were also playing with something that had a lot of glitter because it was everywhere! I am always amazed by the lack of supervision! I don’t understand why no parent is watching what and where their kid is at and what they are doing!! Then for them to destroy our bathroom walls and not one person apologized or offered to pay for the cleaning cost.. This is one of the reasons why funeral costs are high and continue to rise, overhead! Who do you think has to pay for the cleaning and damages? Not that it happens that often where we actually have to repair or replace things, but it does happen, cleaning we must constantly do. 

I’ll stop here and stop the moaning and groaning, for now 😀

Life working at a funeral home-??

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 20, 2015 by thefuneralbizz

I’m surprised I don’t drink and or self medicate! Ugh…

Will post soon.
Hope everyone is doing well.

Life at a funeral home-Tip of the Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 24, 2015 by thefuneralbizz

Yep..I decided today to post a Tip of the Day.
Here it is:
If you need to find out when a visitation/funeral will be and it is not listed on the funeral home website or you just do not have access to the internet and you have to call the funeral home to find out; Do NOT call at 10pm!! It is annoying. Yeah yeah yeah…I know, a funeral home/Director is suppose to be available 24/7…. We are. But for someone to call ‘thinking’ we are actually at the funeral home waiting for the phone ring… Is RIDICULOUS! And even if we are there, chances that our phones will be answered by one of us..is very slim! The answering service will be answering!
And..when you do call at 10pm, and the answering service then connects you to a director because you cannot comprehend why the info is not listed on our website, we do find it a tad, uhhh, whats the word…oh yeah, Freaking Annoying! Then…when you continue to say that you just do not understand why it is not on our website and we say that the only reason it is not or would not be listed is because the family requested it NOT BE LISTED..and you say, ‘…that is odd!’ What I want to say is…’it is odd that you are questioning ME why the family did not want it listed and that you are asking me this at 10freakingPM!

Life working at a funeral home-family issues

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 7, 2015 by thefuneralbizz

One would think that the loss of a loved one would bring people closer, bring families closer during such sad time, put aside their differences for just a few hours or a couple of days…but, NO.. it seems to bring out the worse in people. Makes families bicker, fight, argue, accuse eachother of being sneaky. It basically just brings out the worst in people. Somehow makes them feel entitled to be complete jerks and demand the impossible or just downright dumb. They feel it is ok to disregard being polite, throw their manners out the window. I’m not sure why people feel it is ok to behave in that manner, because it is not ok.
After several years of witnessing this behavior, it seems the most problems occur from those who are divorced. So maybe a child passes away, and I’m not really talking about a small child, but someone who is anywhere between say, 20-40 yrs old, not that it makes a difference in the love you have for your child, no matter their age, I am simply stating this is where I see alot of conflict between divorced parents. It seems as those families just cannot get along, either one parent cannot agree, no matter what. Cant people just try to overcome their dislike for eachother for 5 minutes! Its a shame that people, some people, lack the ability to be civilized for a short time, death of someone they all loved.  I’ve had families that disagree on every little thing, just because the obviously despise one another. When, in these cases, the deceased is to be cremated it gets to be even worse. It becomes who gets to have the cremated remains (if they are not going to be buried) or everyone wants ‘some’ of the cremated remains to put in a small memento urn or a piece of jewelry that holds a bit of the cremains. In order for anyone to get some of the cremated remains, the next of kin must approve it. The funeral home cannot and will not take out some of the cremated remains just because someone asks us to do so! I am not even sure why people think that just because they feel they ‘deserve’ part of the cremains that they can just have some… So we have to explain that unless the next of kin approves it, we cannot separate the cremated remains. This sounds easy, it sounds like after explained that one would think..’yeah, that makes sense’. But, most of the time we get family members who will say things like, ‘well, I am his/her so and so and I deserve/entitled to have some’ or ‘I am not asking so and so because they will just sat no’ or ‘I am his/her so and so and legally I am entitled to have them’. Unless you are the legal next of kin, you are not entitled to them, period. If your son or daughter passes away but they have a spouse, that spouse is the legal next of kin. If there is no spouse then their children who are over 18 are their legal next of kin.. I have had parents get upset when they are told that any children over 18 are the legal next of kin because they feel that they are not mature enough, but again, it is the law (in my State) and not the funeral home rules. Recently we had a family who was in disagreement over the cremated remains, the father wanted them as well as the mother, but the deceased had three kids over 18. So we suggested instead of arguing about who gets the cremated remains, bury the cremated remains at the cemetery and that way everyone can visit them whenever they wish. This was ok for the mother but not the father.. But, in the end, its up to the children of the deceased. They decided to bury the cremains. The father threatened legal action, which he had no leg to stand on if in fact he did proceed with any legal action. I’ve had several people come in and want cremation and when explained that we have to have next of kin authorization to proceed with cremation, they say they are the deceaseds next of kin…even tho they have just stated the deceased was either married, have children over 18, or there could be more than one sibling (majority of next of kin is required, if there are more than 1 child over 18 or more than 1 sibling). We also get alot of people who will say that we dont need the next of kin permission because they are the deceaseds power of attorney. Power of Attorney ends at time of death. And unless you live in a State that allows you to appoint an individual to handle you funeral arrangements (some States will allow a form, I forget the name of the form, to be attached to a Power of Attorney). But in my State that form is not allowed. Now…if it is a burial, we do not need next of kin. Cremation is final. You cannot undo cremation. You can disinter a person who is buried tho. But for those of you who were wondering when i mentioned we need a majority of signatures for a cremation and what if they do not all get along, well, again, they have to figure it. The funeral home is not going to get in the middle of it. It is a family issue not a funeral home issue. So many times we have family members calling or comming in to try and talk us into saying or doing something we cannot and will not do. They feel if they tell us their problems and try to make us feel sorry for them that we will give in to them. When we refuse to break the law, they then become angry with us. I do not understand why families try to get us in the middle of family issues.

We are always on a schedule, most everything is timed. We had a funeral about a month or so ago and prayers were at the funeral home then Mass at church. Prayers were scheduled for 9:30am and Mass at 10am. That is what the family wanted!! They were told that it would be a short prayer and that we had to be to church ON TIME, so we couldnt wait for anyone who had not shown up on time to funeral home. Well, of course there were family who had not arrived on time and several people were outside and in the lounge..needless to say, everything started late and people were complaining that so and so wasn’t there yet and this is being rushed, etc..There is nothing we can do to change that on the morning of. What people dont understand is that the church may have another funeral after theirs. So by them being late now not only puts us behind it puts the other funeral that is scheduled to arrive at church behind and really creates a mess. Plus the Priest gets upset! He called to ask where we were at..by this time the procession had already left, but only minutes prior. He was not happy! And we are the ones who get reprimanded not typically the family, although I have had priests yell at the family and altho it is usually the family or friends who make us late, the family then blames us..

Most people are not educated about embalming, but I don’t think ‘most’ people want to know and unless it is their job or they just have a curiosity about embalming, then why would most people know all there is to know about it? In my opinion, I think everyone should at least know how it works.. Which brings me to this; When someone passes away, typically the family will contact a funeral home and we then take it from there..of course we ask the family if they wish to have viewing, which would require embalming, in most cases, otherwise if they decide on a direct cremation then no embalming is required. There are those instances when someone passes away unexpectedly and are taken to the Medical Examiner’s and there are those cases where a family may not have the ability to pay for a funeral. There are also instances where maybe someone has passed away at home, who may live alone and no one knows until some days, weeks, or maybe even longer.. Then the family still must decide on how to proceed with funeral arrangements. We also get families that for whatever reason, wait to have any type of visitation. We get those more often than not really.. We hear all kinds of reasons of why they want to wait..I have had families want to wait a month before viewing, that is not usually the norm, but we have it happen. When a family wants a viewing, embalming is done. It is done to preserve the body just for that, for viewing. Embalming does not stop the decaying process, it only helps slow it down for a short time. There are cases when someone may have passed several weeks ago and a family may not have known. This family may still want viewing/visitation. This is not always possible. First, it depends on the condition of the body. How much has mother nature already done? It is really out of our hands, mother nature takes over and she isnt always the nicest.. What I find that happens is the family thinks that the embalming will take care of that.. I am not saying it doesnt help, but there are those times when the body just cannot be embalmed. It sometimes becomes difficult for the family to understand that. It also can be difficult for us to explain to them..especially when they either do not understand or don’t want to understand.
And as with alot of us these days, money isnt pouring outta my wallet, unfortunately. So there are (alot) of families that just do not have the means to pay for a funeral. So they set up on line funding accounts, have fundraisers, etc. So during this time that they are trying to raise money…there is a body, either at the funeral home or at the coroners office..Now, if a funeral home already has pocession of the deceased, then charges have already incurred. Transfer fees and most likely embalming. I am only speaking for funeral homes in my area and without refrigeration. If that person is going to be held in our funeral home until a family comes up with the money, then we are going to embalm…regardless if it turns out to be a direct cremation or a direct burial. Of course this is explained to the family. If however, when we first speak to the family and they advise us that it will be a direct cremation, they just have to raise the money first, typically we will go ahead and proceed with the cremation. It is up to the boss really.. If he feels there is no doubt that we will get paid, then we will cremate. The tricky part in this is that legally we are not allowed to hold cremated remains for payment. So if in fact we do cremate and the family never pays but wants the cremated remains, well, they get them. We do not have to give them any certified death certificates though. We still must file the death cert, which in the long run does cost us money because of paying an employee to file it and use of fuel, but we do not have to pay for the certificate. In this case we would just let the family know that it is filed and where it is filed, but we will not get them for them. Believe it or not, we have had this happen more than once. And believe it or not, the family usually gets pissed because we will not get them the death cert!
So anyway, my point was that embalming will only delay the decomp process. And each individual is different. Each of us will decompose differently. We have had disinterments where only a couple of years have gone by and the deceased is badly decomposed and then there are those that have been several years and they look like they did the day they were buried.
Speaking of disinterments/re-interments, they are not easily done. You cannot decide one day you want your loved one moved and the next day it is done. There are permits to be typed and to get approved with the health department. There is scheduling with the cemetery where the body will be disinterred from and the cemetery where the body will be reinterred. There are also fees that must be paid prior, not only to the funeral director, who must be present, but to both cemeteries, for the cost of the permits and, we are required to have a new vault on stand by incase the one that is is being removed is in anyway damaged, that charge is also the families responsiblity and, if the vault is damaged then the casket may be damaged, which means a new casket must be used, which again is the families responsibilty. I have found that most of the people that want a disinterment do not realize this and when they do find out they are usually not so much interested in continuing… Typically people want a disinterment/reinterment so they can move their loved ones closer to them. I have had older people who have lost their spouse many years ago and are no longer able to drive a certain distance to go to visit their resting place, others tho, may just not be happy where there loved one is at..

Now thats it is the Holiday Season..we have our funeral home decorated as do most other funeral homes. We put up a Christmas Tree and we have a couple wreaths hanging up and just a few odds and ends on the fireplace mantel, nothing elaborate. The problem with decorating in a funeral home though is that you have children who come to the funeral home and as I have said a million times before, they are left unattended. This creates a problem. Kids of course love Christmas ornaments and lights, etc.. They like to touch and grab things that they shouldn’t. I wish the parents wouldn’t allow their kids to just do as they please but I have come to the realization that this will never happen! So..the kids take ornaments off our tree, take our fake flowers out of the baskets, drop our ornaments on the floor and not pick them up. So, they get broke or lost. Then believe it or not, we’ve had families ask us if the funeral home will be decorated for their visitation. Speaking of Christmas time..we are in a State that gets snow and bitter cold temps. Now, just because it snows and the roads are awful, it doesn’t mean that any funeral that happens to be scheduled that day will be cancelled or postponed. Especially if the funeral will be held at church. If the family is having a service only at the funeral home and they insist on postponing the service and burial, well we could arrange for that to happen, but we may not be able to accommodate the family if they wish to chane everything to another day and we already have a funeral at the same time. Also, there are other people who have received funeral info and have planned on coming and still arrive on day of to find that it has been delayed. Then there are those people who just assume that visitation or services have been cancelled because of weather and they call us to ask if it has been cancelled…When we tell them that it has not been cancelled they are usually in disbelief and say that they cannot make it! This is not our problem and I highly doubt the family is going to delay the funeral because a couple people can’t make it. When we had some bad weather about two weeks ago we had prayers at funeral home then to Mass at church. I received several, several calls that morning from people asking if the service was going to be delayed because they were stuck in traffic. When they were told no, that nothing could be delayed because we have to be to church at a certain set time, they continued to say that they weren’t going to make it and that we didn’t know just how bad the roads were and just how many people probably were also stuck in traffic…again, we really cannot do much about it. If the family were to ask if we could delay it for a half hour or so it would be strictly up to the church and then we would also have to contact the cemetery.. Then, the family had decided that they did not want a procession because of the roads being so bad and that it may be safer as well as quicker as most people could take the expressway…well, ALOT of people were not happy about that! Most of the older people are the ones who were mad about it. Some complained that ‘they HAVE to have a procession’! Others simply said that now they don’t know where to go or how to get there!
There is only so much we can do…sometimes it is the families decision, sometimes it is all about schedules, other times it is a matter of right and wrong…We are a funeral home, there are rules and laws we must adhere to. If there are family issues, then the family must figure it out. We are not attorneys either, too many times people/families ask us legal questions…we do not and cannot give you legal advise. Typically we really do not even know the answers in which we are asked.
We can’t magically make our funeral home larger for you when so many people have shown up for a funeral or visitation… we cant magically make room for more seating..we will put more chairs in, but once we are out of room, we are out of room! The embalmers, most of the time, well, do magically make your loved one look great however, sometimes their magic doesn’t always work. We cannot always be at the funeral home incase you need something. We are ‘available’ 24/7 … by phone! Our doors are open regular business hours. If you need to speak to us, and it is not regarding someone in your family that has just passed away, and it is outside normal business hours….wait until normal business hours!

Thanksgiving

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 26, 2014 by thefuneralbizz

I use my blog to vent about work. To release stress but also to give others a look into what it is like to work at a funeral home and to let people know what not to do when planning or attending a funeral.
Today, I would like to tell everyone that I wish you all who read my blog and those who just happen to stop by, a very happy Thanksgiving!
I would also like to add what I am thankful for.
I am thankful for having a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in every night, my husband and my family and friends and my cat. I am also thankful for my job (yes, it’s true!), the ability to get up each morning and go to work to help those who are experiencing one of the hardest and saddest events they will experience in their lives. I am thankful for having a vehicle to get me back and forth to work. Even tho I have had alot of struggles in my life, I am thankful that I had to go thru them to get to where I am today, altho I still have far to go, I will eventually get there, and if not, oh well…I have seen too many lives cut short and I have realized that the things you think you want or the things you think you need, you usually dont, because in the end, it doesn’t matter. In the end, you can’t take those things with you, but you can leave your loved ones good memories and the love you shared with them. So the saying, ‘the best things in life are free’, is 100% true.
We all get caught up in our lives, work, kids, etc., and that’s fine, as long as every now again you stop and let those you love know how thankful you are for them.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Life at a funeral home-Unappreciated, Hard work, Stress, Irritability, etc…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 12, 2014 by thefuneralbizz

When it rains it pours!
We have suddenly become busy…not just busy, but B U S Y !!
Of course my boss loves the business as do the rest of us. What I and the rest of us don’t like is being so busy that we can’t think straight. We all get alittle irritable, stressed out. We sometime can’t even stop for 2 minutes to stuff a sandwich or a granola bar in our mouths or even use the restroom. When it gets so busy it even becomes difficult to keep things straight. But, I think I would rather be busy then slow, if I had to choose. When we get long stretches of being slow, you start to look for things to do, there is usually always things to do. But when it stays slow, you start to run out of things to do and then we all start to get a little on the lazy size so when we do start to pick up again, none of us want to do anything.. But anyway, at our funeral home we try to make sure that each of the employees know what is going on at all times. This may seem like something that is simple but it is not, even tho we have a small staff. During the day it is usually just 3 to 5 of us working and if there is visitation we will have another 1 to 3 employees there, but not until either after 12pm or after 4pm. There is not just the ‘funeral info’ that needs to be known to each of us but there are several other things that need to be known, there may be an urn that needs to be filled once we receive cremated remains and that the family not be called before that urn is filled, and if the cremains arrive from crematory prior to the urn arriving and someone doesn’t know we are waiting on the urn or doesn’t check the file notes and they contact the family, the family comes in to pick them up and there is no urn, well then the family is like..wtf? , where is the urn we ordered?!? We may be waiting on pendants/jewelry that a family has ordered and those need to be filled and we have to contact each individual who ordered the piece of jewelry. We are usually always waiting to hear from a doctor’s office, hospital, nursing home, etc.. to hear that a death certificate has been signed and ready to pick up or waiting to hear that, yes, the doctor is signing a death cert and we can bring it to them between certain hours on certain day or days. We could be waiting to hear back from a family regarding info we need from them or waiting to hear what day/hours they want their visitation or we could even be waiting to hear from a family that we have picked up from place of death, who maybe passed in the middle of the night and they are suppose to call to schedule arrangement time (instead of walking in!! Which I had 4 walk ins last week!!…talk about STRESS! And 2 were on same day and the other 2 were the following day! Plus, we already had other arrangements scheduled AND two of those times I was alone!). We could be waiting for the church to call back to confirm Mass times, Rosary times, or we are waiting for a Minister, Priest, Reverend, etc to return our call. We could be waiting for a return call from cemetery…the list goes on and on and on and on…And in the midst of all of that, we could be having a family coming in for their first viewing that day or we could be having a funeral service that day, there could be a family there making arrangements and a funeral going on or first viewing or all three at the same time! The bad part is that who knows if someone will just walk in at that SAME time and want to make arrangements! It’s happened and it will happen again I’m sure. And who is to say that the Director will be able to meet with them..I had a family walk in last week right as we were finishing up a funeral but also had another family coming in any minute for first viewing. So, it gets to be very stressful and irritating. At some point when it is busy like that we are going to have to explain to the walk in that there is just noone available to meet with them right at that moment. I get those who roll their eyes and sigh, I also get those who completely understand and will come back at a time I ask them to. I also get people who will say, “I/we just want to get some information about funeral cost and what we have to do, etc..”. Well, technically it’s still going to take time and take me away from doing what I have to get done NOW for a family who will be arriving any minute! It wouldn’t be an issue if we had a large staff and there was always someone who was available to meet with a family at a moments notice or had enough staff that could handle getting a funeral out and getting another family situated for first viewing. But we are a smaller family owned business with a small staff.
Then…while we are busy and trying to get things done and make sure that the famiy that is there for visitation is happy, the phone is ringing, we are trying to get death certificates done, insurance assignments done, printing, etc..This is when it never fails that someone is not happy with something or the family that is there may just be one of those families who are just not happy with anything or just complainers or the kind of family that we call ‘needy’, but then we also have those families that never have a complaint or ask us for anything…. I am in no way saying that if the family is not happy with something they shouldn’t tell us about it but what I mean is the WAY they tell us. In those types of families, there is usually one or two people that are the ‘bitchy” ones and anything and everything they can complain about they will. It can be just because it is too hot or too cold in the chapel for them. Well really that is not a big issue and only takes a minute to fix. But they will act as if we are purposely making it too hot or cold and huff and puff about it until they find something else to complain about..maybe the rest room needs toilet paper, again, something that takes only a moment to fix. Maybe they drank all the coffee within minutes and we haven’t made a new pot yet.. we do not have anyone standing next to the coffee pots at all times. We check them often and will immediately make more when we see it is needed, but if there is a family who just drinks alot of coffee then of course it will need to made more. Once we realize that, then someone will be sure to keep an eye on more so than usual. All of those things are typical instances that just happen and the issue can be fixed within minutes. There are of course bigger issues that people complain about that we may or may not have any control over. One that happens alot is that someone in the immediate family may not think the deceased looks like their loved one. Well, first off, they are dead. They are not going to look the same. In fact, they are going to look, well, dead. Embalming, makeup and hair styling can only do so much. You really need to remember that usually the person had been ill before passing. They probably didn’t really look themselves while ill. Families bring in photos of their loved ones to give us an idea of how they styled their hair and wore makeup, so we try our best to go from that photo, but that photo was more than likely taken while that person was healthy. Maybe they had lost alot of weight while ill, their hair is probably alot thinner, maybe they are bloated from medications they were on (bloating will usually go away, but possibly not all of it), or they could be jaundice. Then we have other families who just cannot stop complementing on how great their loved one looks! Another issue that seems to come up alot is parking. Yes, parking! We cannot make extra parking. We have ample parking. If someone has to park on a side street then that is where they have to park!! We also get those who complain that the chapel is not large enough. Again..we cannot magically make the chapel larger. What really ticks me off about this one is that the family previously saw the chapel when they came for arrangements. So now you are gonna say something when its too late anyway. And my all time favorite complaint is ‘we want this, this and this…but we cant afford to pay for it’. And another issue that ALWAYS comes up is that maybe a family did not want an obit it the local paper or any paper, even not wanting it on the funeral homes website. There is no charge for us to put an obit on our website but we always ask our families if thet want us to post it or not and they have the option of having us also post a photo of the deceased as well. As I have said before, the newspapers charge ALOT now days for obits, so if maybe the family cannot afford it so they decide not to do one or they just simply do not want to do one. We don’t ask why.. But the issue is that people just do not/cannot understand why there is no notice in the paper or on our website!! They will call the funeral home and act as if they are just so put out because they actually HAD to use the phone (oh no!) to call the funeral home and ASK about the visitation/ funeral arrangements! We had a family last week that did not want the obit on our website. I received a couple of calls inquiring about visitation times. Instead of just asking “could you please give me the times of visitation and the funeral service for Mr/Mrs….?” Nope..i answer phone and I get, “…uhhmmm, hi, I was just on your website to find the information about so and so, but I do not see it listed, you have everyone else listed, but not so and so, is there a reason why you have not put so and so’s info on there, because I know alot of people will be looking on your website for the info, but you people have not posted it yet!” It is not that they are just asking, it is the way they ask, almost to accuse us of ‘forgetting’ to list it on the website. Now, it is not mandatory for me or anyother employee to explain to anyone who asks why it is not listed! But of course by the time they are done telling me that it is not listed, I feel like I have to explain…and that ticks me off! I will just tell them the family did not want it posted on our website. Their response, “…oh, really, why?” What I wanted to say is, “none of your business!” However, I say.. “the family did not want it listed, I do not know the reason.” Same goes for the paper…people always ask why the family did not put an obit in the paper…Here’s an idea people, just mind your own business and not question WHY. And if it is that important for you to know why…ask the family! …….anyway,
One of the families we had last week, which just happened to be one of the walk ins, wanted a full day of visitation. They HAD to have a full day..but the deceased had no money, they had no life ins… but they wanted, insisted on having a full day as well as a higher end casket. Well, when a family says they have no money but want want want…what do you say!?! No? We suddenly turn into the bad guys because we have to tell them that they have to pay! Blows my mind every single time!! We are not required to work out payment arrangements. We can also insist that payment in full is due immediately. And to be honest it is those families who say they do not have any money that we typically tell payment is due now. The reason…because if they say they do not have any means of paying, they probably wont have any means of paying later. As for payments, I think people feel it will be easier to start making payments later on, after all the funeral stuff is done and over and they have had time to clear their minds, but in fact, it may make it harder for some because now, each month they are forced to think about having to pay for the funeral of their loved one. Also, when families find out that payment is due immediately, they are shocked, usually, especially those who do not have much money to work with, but this forces the family to not overspend. If avoids them from purchasing things when they may not be thinking clearly. This is something that people should take into consideration when making funeral arrangements, if you feel overwhelmed, hold off a day, maybe two, before making arrangements or even better, bring in a trusted friend or relative who can be there to steer you in the right direction.
So, while we are juggling so many different families and so many other things at the same time, it really does become quite stressful and we all start getting abit nerved. Especially when we are waiting on other people…What I mean is, we may be waiting for a death cert to get signed. We may have dropped it off to a doctor a couple of days ago but the doctor has yet to sign it. If this particular case is a cremation then it really puts us in a tight spot because we need that death cert signed by the doctor in order to get a permit from the medical examiner to proceed with the cremation. It may take our medical examiner a few days to approve the permit and fax back to us! Now understand that I am speaking of our Medical Examiner. They are extremely busy and slow most of the time! There have been several times when we have had to physically go to the Medical Examiners office with the permit and death cert and a check for the permit fee in order to get the permit approved and signed! Our M.E. is in our county, of course, but that doesn’t mean that they are just around the block! It also means that when we do go there, there may also be other funeral homes there waiting for permits, death certificates (that the M.E. is signing) and they just may be slow, which is usually the case and they don’t care how much of a hurry you are in! Same goes for doctors. They could care less how much of a hurry we are in for them to sign a death cert. They dont care that someones loved one is laying in a cremation container at the funeral home or at the crematory waiting to be cremated because they are taking their time signing a death cert. However, I can bet if it were their loved one, they wouldn’t be so happy if the doctor just didn’t have the time to sign the death cert! It is also very hard trying to explain to families why it is taking so long. The family just wants it done. They don’t want any excuses and when something is not done in an appropriate amount of time, they want someone to blame and it is us, the funeral home who they blame!
So while we are trying to make sure that the temp in the chapel is just right, making sure you have enough coffee, answer our phones that don’t stop ringing, getting doctors to sign death certificates, waiting on phone calls from insurance companies, churches, cemeteries, doing printing of the memorial cards for another family, meeting with another family, making a removal, waiting on a family to drop off clothing, embalming, etc.. We are also trying to keep our cool, our patience and not let it show to any family just how stressed and under pressure we are, how hungry or tired we may be!
Speaking of families that are suppose to be dropping off clothing… This is a reoccurring problem for us. When a family comes in for arrangements, if they have contacted us when the person passed away, we will let tell them some things that they should bring in with them, such as…clothing, jewelry, a photo (for hair/make up), life ins policy, glasses, social security number, etc. Even though we tell them this, they do not always bring all these items in with them. Maybe they did not have time to get everything together, they have to go shopping for new clothing, they forgot, whatever the reason. Then there are those families who…just walk in! So if a family comes in with no clothing, we will tell them that they have to bring the clothing in asap! Especially if their visitation is to begin the following day! We will actually give them a specific time we must have the clothing by. Nine out of ten times…we do not receive the clothing at the time specified! We wait an hour or sometimes longer to see if maybe they are just running late…and I should add that most of the time we never receive a phone call letting us know they are running late! When too much time has passed and we have still not received clothing or a phone call…we will try to contact them. Most of the time we get voicemail. Other times, when we do get ahold of them it is always, “oh, we are running behind today, we just have so much to do” or “we/I just woke up, but will bring them in a little bit”. We didn’t give you just a random time that we needed the clothing by.. we actually need it! It is not just an option for you to bring in the clothing, it is mandatory that you bring it, in a manner of enough time for us to get your loved one dressed! Again…it is not the easiest of tasks to dress a body. You want us and expect us to do our jobs and do it right and in the amount of time we have so that your loved one looks good and you have a nice funeral for them and get what you paid for, but we also have to depend on you as well! Not only for clothing either. We may need a photo for hair, for the obit (if in the paper, there are those pesky deadlines and once we pass that deadline…too bad). If you want picture on the memorial cards..printing takes time, etc. And when these things are not completed when they are suppose to be, regardless of who is at fault, it is the funeral home who always gets the blame!
Also, we are usually closed in the evening if there is no visitation. We are also closed on Sundays if no visitation. As are most funeral homes, at least in my area. This is why it is important for people to CALL FIRST BEFORE coming to the funeral home to make funeral arrangements or anything else. I cannot stress this enough! Even if you know we are open…Call first!! That goes for any funeral home! I don’t know of any funeral homes that like walk ins..yes, we appreciate the business, but you should call before coming! It is just common courtesy. It isn’t so bad if the family who just showed up is nice and understanding if they have to wait a few minutes or if we have to tell them they have to come back at a later time, but if you are someone who just assumes that because you are there someone HAS to help you asap, well then…CALL FIRST AND SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT! There have been so many instances where when we are closed someone shows up. Then we get a call that they are outside waiting.. when told we are closed but if arrangements need to be made someone can meet you there within a half hour, 15 minutes, etc, it never fails that whomever it is gets ticked off because they have to wait! The typical response ism “but i am here NOW, I can’t wait all day!” Well…you should have called prior to showing up. There are also those instances when there already is an arrangement on a day we are typically closed, the Director is there meeting with a family, but since we are technically closed, the phones are still transferred to another director or the ans service and our sign says, ‘CLOSED’, yet someone is ringing rhe doorbell or calling the ans serv because they are there because they need to make arrangements. Well…even though someone is there, they are already meeting with someone, which means you are going to have to wait anyway. There are those times when someone shows up, we are closed, they call, they are told that someone will meet them there in a few minutes and they will say maybe, ‘ok..can we meet here in 2 hours, or whatever time they say, and the Director will make plans to meet them there in that given amount of time. The Director will arrive when they are suppose to and what happens, they family or whoever doesnt show up on time or at all. So, do we call that family or person and start bitching that we were there and they weren’t! No! We do not! When a family insists on coming in at a certain time to make arrangements, we make changes or adjustments to our schedule. When those people show up late or not at all, do we call them up and yell at them? Nope. Our time is just as valuable as your time. Yet being the type of business we are, we cannot charge you for a no show, like a doctor or dentist office may do. When you do eventually show up, we really cannot turn you away and say that you now have reschedule to another day. And most of all we can’t show our irritation because we have to show sympathy and understanding. Yes, there are those times when we get a family who may be rude or argumentative with us and just outright mean to us. Those are few and far between, but yet it has happened and yes, those times we have told them that either they can calm down or go someplace else. Usually when someone is like that it is usually because they don’t like our prices and say they need something less expensive and when we continue to try to help them they are still not satisfied. Once we discount as far as we possibly can without actually paying for their funeral, we have to just tell them we cannot drop our prices any more and they are more then welcome to go elsewhere. By that point we are usually hoping they do go elsewhere because we are already not getting along with them and it is probably best they do go someplace else.
After your funeral and your luncheon, if you have flowers at the funeral home, you would typically come back and pick them up. If you can’t or it is late, you may come the following day. We will set all your flowers aside in our flower room on the shelf with your families name on that shelf. There will also be a bag, which we call ‘the family bag’, it contains the sign in book, probably the death certificates, the funeral bill, any jewelry that belonged to the deceased, extra prayer cards, thank you cards, etc.. Believe it or not we get many families who just dont come back for anything. If a couple of days go by and your things are still there, we will contact the informant. Alot of people will say they forgot or they were busy or tired, whatever the reason, but they thank us for calling and will come to get everything, other times we just don’t ever hear from anyone. Well after a few days, the flowers are going to wilt and die. They also begin to smell! We just cannot keep them sitting there smelling…we get enough bad smells at the funeral home..!! So eventually we are going to have to throw them away. So why is this such a shock to certain families when they eventually show up days later? If there are plants, we will leave those and we may even give them some water if one of us has a minute, any ribbons that may have been in with flower arrangements that say ‘Dear Mother/Father/Grandma/ Grandpa, etc, we will keep as well incase the family wants them. But those flower arrangements just do not last long, sometimes they are starting to wilt while the family is still there for visitation. We do not water any flower arrangements or plants after a families visitation, at night when they leave, or in the morning before they arrive for second day of viewing or day of funeral service, I don’t know of any funeral homes that do that. I’m sure there may be those funeral homes that do, but I have never heard of or been told they do. Another word about flower arrangements, when you have children with you at the funeral home (which by the way, is dumb!) and these particular children are not well behaved or the usual, just left to wander and do as they please (which again, is dumb!), and noone is watching them or reprimanding tjem for being loud or for running, etc.. there have been several instances where they will knock over a flower arrangement or two! So not only did they just knock over an expensive flower arrangement that someone paid alot of money for they also just dumped water and dirt all over our carpet. Guess who now has to go into chapel, in front of everyone there, and try to clean up a bunch of wet dirt off the carpet…WE DO! we really cant just whip out the vacuum cleaner..we have to get on our hands and knees, in our suit, and clean it up all the while acting as if we are not irritated! This is also reflected in our funeral costs, upkeep of the funeral home. The other day we had visitation and there just happened to be alot of smaller kids there (yay) and they were all running around all day, screaming and yelling and not one parent disciplined them, at all! They had run up behind the casket and actually had moved the casket where it had been pushed back and it was now not centered and pushed back against the drapes that are behind the casket, they are a heavier velvet drape that hanges on the wall with a sheer panel in the center, which was now all messed up as well, one side was pushed over so the sheer panel was only showing on one side. Oh well..I didn’t fix it, no one else fixed it either. Why? Because the kids would have just continued to do it, which they did…ALL DAY AND EVENING. The day of funeral, which was instate at church, the cleaner was there and was cleaning the chapel and she found gum in the carpet right in front of where the casket sits as well as stuck on the velvet drapes. She also found some mints, that had obviously once been in someones mouth, stuck to the couch cushions. I am assuming that some of the kids took a few mints we have in a crystal bowel in the arrangement office (why on earth they were allowed inside the arrangement office is beyond me), and realized they did not like them, instead of just putting them in the one of many trash cans around the funeral home, stuck them on the couch, probably trying to hide them under the cushion. These are reasons why you should NOT bring your children to the funeral home…at least do not make them stay there ALL DAY! There is no excuse why your children have to be there all day. Get a sitter, stay home with them yourself. Take turns with your husband or wife, one of you attend the visitation or one of you go and the other stat home then once the other person gets home the other one goes. Have grandma or grandpa, or a trustworthy neighbor watch them. You are not required to spend hours with the famiy at visitation. Go during a time when your kids are in school. And if none of those options are available, then either don’t come at all or bring them with you but only stay for a short time!! Your kids are your excuse not to stay! If you happen to be the family who is having the visitation and have your kids, Watch Them! Or again, switch with your husband or wife or another relative! Line up a sitter, whatever you gotta do, but do not bring them if you are not going to watch them..and I don’t mean watch them run wild thru the funeral home! Your kids do not want to be there all day, they are bored! And NO, we do not have a play room for children! We have been asked this several times! Speaking of flowers…we do not have ANY control over the flowers you order. If you order your flowers from a flower shop, how is it that you are going to question us why they are not there or complain that they are not what you ordered or you are not happy with them ? Our funeral home does not have have a flower shop..some funeral homes do, but we do not. But you know where you ordered your flowers from, so why are you not contacting them!?! If you do not see your flowers in the chapel when you come for visitation, first think of WHEN you ordered them. Was it just a few hours prior? Did you maybe get the name of funeral home wrong? And of course you can ask the funeral home staff if maybe your flowers are in the flower room and have not yet been placed in chapel yet..but when they tell you that there are no flowers in the flower room…end it! End it and turn around and call the florist! There are also links on our website as there are on other funeral home websites that are links to flower shops, either shops that are local and or those flower shops that you see advertised on tv, the ones who will ship anywhere. Just because we have a link to those on our website does not mean we own those shops. It clearly states what flower shop it is, their phone number, and of course the link takes you to THEIR website. But we do get those people who still assume it is our flowers..
Since we have been so busy lately, the food that the families have been bringing in is just ridiculous. .. tje amount of food, I should say. I cannot even begin to try and explain just how much food there has been. I still don’t understand why. I get that people, friends of the deceased and family members may send pastry baskets or bring in a veggie tray or cookies, but I do not understand the reasoning behind the family bringing in food, not just cookies, not just a few sandwiches, but whole meals. I think it is tacky. There was a family a couple weeks ago that just had so much food and at one point one of the family members asked for an extra TWO tables. Then a little later on they asked if there was someplace else they could set up more food…WHAT!?! Really… Now, there is already a table in our lounge. Then, when the family first arrived (almost an hour early…cuz they had so much SHIT to bring in), we set up another table. Now the table that is already there, is probably the size of two card tables, the regular square sized ones. Then, the table we put up for them when they got there is about 6’ long. So…when they asked for another one, we got out the other one, which is about the same as the other one. All of these tables were jammed packed with food! Also, they were upset because they could only plug in one crock.pot at a time! First off, we do not normally allow crock.pots anyway! But..I did not see them bring any in, nor did the Director. I dont think anyone realized they had them until they asked for the extra table.. So, now you are in the funeral home, you have the chapel where your loved one is then you have the use of the lounge. It is pretty clear what we space we have. Just because there may be a door…that is locked, in the lounge are, does not mean behind that door is another lounge just for you and your food. So, when they asked us if we had more space for them because they were running out of room, and we said, no we do not, they said that if we could open the door that is in the lounge they could use that. I was dumbfounded. I said, “you mean the door that is in the back that is locked,” they of course said yes, so im my mind i was laughing and bitching at the same time.. I told her that room was not extra room for the lounge area, our FURNACE AND HOT WATER TANK are in that room! Maybe had they not had so much food, they would have had more room! If you want a place to hang out and eat for 8 hours, dont come to the funeral home, go to the bar or take all your food back home, and have everyone come over your house! It isn’t like anyone is spending anytime in the chapel anyway..so pretty much you are paying us thousands of dollars for you and your friends to hang out in our lounge eating. Dumb!

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