Archive for funeral

Life Working at a funeral home – VENTING!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2017 by thefuneralbizz

I’ve been working on another post, but I have to vent!

First of all, I want to say to anyone who may be reading this that the reason I started this blog was so I could vent my frustrations. over the past 9 years, I’ve had a few comments about my bitching.. my purpose was and is not to argue with anyone or start arguements, but I do realize that it happens, especially on the Internet. I haven’t really really vented in a while, but right now I just need to. So if anyone is reading this and gets upset by what I write here, I make no apologies and I will not respond to any comments that lead to a back and forth arguing.

I’ve mentioned in other posts about how I feel about people, that they are rude, no one has any manners anymore and everything  is now now now! It has just got out of hand and I for one am just beyond fed up! I’m tired of having to bend over backwards for people! I get it, I work in the funeral business, but I’m still sick of rude obnoxious spoiled people. I am tired of the people who I have to deal with including ‘some’ of the families we get. Why don’t people LISTEN?!? We are NOT at the funeral home 24/7! We are NOT there just sitting around waiting just incase you want to stop by at 5pm on Sunday evening because you want to drop off the pictures for the visitation you are going to have on Tuesday at Noon! NO! We are not going to sit and wait around on you on a Saturday evening because you want to drop off clothing that we TOLD you to bring in by 5pm on FRIDAY! ! It doesn’t work that way! We have hours of operation just like other businesses! The only difference is that we make ourselves available after hours incase a death occurs. Of course we will answer a call at anytime of the day or night for a death call. We are not available anytime of the day or night because someone needs a work or school excuse. You actually think that we are going to stop what we are doing on a Sunday afternoon  (the funeral home is closed if there is no visitation), and run to the funeral home because someone forgot to get a work excuse while they were there for the funeral? NO we aren’t! It’s just dumb shit anymore. I have people call during the evening or on weekends when we are closed and say that they are at the funeral home but no one is answering the door! Nine times out of ten, they are annoyed that no one is there! Really? You just decided to show up and you’re mad? Then to find out its just because they have a couple cases of water to drop off for their visitation the following day! Look, you set times for your visitation, you get a family hour! How long does it take really to carry a few cases of water into the funeral home? Maybe ten minutes TOPS?!? I hate when we set times and the family hour is all set and the next question I get is, ‘so what time can we all come”? Are you kidding me?
Want want want, but don’t put forth the effort to get what you want! You want grandma in a certain dress, she cannot wear anything else. Fine, that’s understandable, but when you are told that we MUST have that dress by a certain time, BRING it by that time!! You want a photo on the prayer folders, we tell you we must have that photo by a certain time in order for them to be ready by your visitation, then have it to us by that time!
Another annoying thing, when families start telling everyone when visitation and funeral will be BEFORE they even come in to make arrangements! DO NOT DO THAT! Don’t post on social media about it, nothing, until you have actually made the ARRANGEMENTS with the funeral home!!
You may want your viewing on Tuesday and funeral on Wednesday and you want specific times, and usually we can and will accommodate that, but sometimes we can’t! Also it may not even be us who is unable to accommodate those days and times, it could be that your priest or pastor is not available at that time, or the church is not available at that time! USE COMMON SENSE! Just because someone died, the world does not stop! And I absolutely hate when the attitude comes out because they don’t get their way!
Same thing with the God forsaken death certificates! It’s sometimes the only thing some people are focused on. You’ll get the freaking death certificates, but we cannot force the doctor to sign it any faster! Believe me, if we could we would! They are becoming harder and harder to accomplish anymore and when we try and explain the process of getting a death certificate signed, no one listens! If people would just shut up for two seconds and stop being so selfish and understand that there are some things that you just have to wait for! Trust me when I say I want nothing more then to get the death certificate signed and give to you asap!
Food, yes, my biggest pet peeve! I dislike those of you who bring in food! I’ve always bitched about it, but never really came right out and said I can’t stand those families who feel the need to bring in a shit load of fucking food! It’s like the biggest concern, not the deceased, but the freaking food! And.. why? Why do you need to bring in so much food anyway? Some snacks, water, even some soda, fine, but people, STOP it with your freaking food at the funeral home! You do not need to feed the people who are coming to pay their respects! especially if you plan on having a luncheon! ERGHHH!
As I have said before, if you are here for visitation and will be all day, then leave for an hour to go eat! Or bring “yourself” some thing in. I just get so irritated with the families who make it all about their food, when can we bring in the food? is there enough room? do you supply plates and utensils? cups? water? napkins? is there tables for everyone to sit at, should we bring in our own table? where will we keep the food that needs to be kept cold? And I just love when they bring in their crock pots!

Children.. they are YOUR kids, NOT MINE! I will not watch your kids. If you must bring them with you then you need to keep them under control and they should be on their best behavior! They should not be permitted to run around like wild animals. There are things that they can get hurt on. Our funeral home is not child proof and you should not assume it is. We have steps/stairs and when your brats are let loose to run wild, well, when they fall or go rolling down the stairs and crack their heads open on the tile, it’s no one’s fault but your own! It’s is also not a place for their screaming! It is still a place of business and we are still working here. Use common sense!! Your kid is yelling and screaming, would you allow that at home while you are on the phone? Do you allow them to yell and scream and run up and down and up and down and up and down your steps? Probably not! Then don’t let them do it at the funeral home! Sometimes there are more then one family using the funeral home and that other family does not want to hear your kid! Have some respect for others!
If and when an employee does tell your child to quiet down or stop running, do not give them dirty looks, if you were doing your job as a parent, then the employee would not have had to say anything! I think it’s ridiculous that you bring your small children to a funeral home all day anyway. Get a sitter! Go home! take turns with your spouse or other family member. Bring them some books to read or color, do not assume they will be ok unsupervised! You may not be the only family using the funeral home, you have no idea what kind of people are here or who can walk in the door! We do not stand at the door and ask who every person is as they come in.
Flowers. . We get flowers all throughout the day and we have to carry them into the chapel. So if the family and visitors are here and flowers come in, we have to walk in the chapel with a stand and a flower working our way past everyone. Be polite and MOVE for us would ya?!? Also, when we set the flowers down, don’t stand over my shoulder waiting to look at the card! Wait a minute until I walk away! Also, if you don’t see your flowers you sent, sure you can ask us about it, but if we don’t have your flowers and they aren’t on our sign in list, then you need to contact the flower shop. I’m not sure why we get asked, “why aren’t my flowers set out”? Well, if they didn’t get delivered then I can’t set them out.”
Then comes the… “why were my flowers not delivered”? I don’t know, call the place you ordered them from!
It’s just stupid shit really.. But it adds up and pisses me off! We had a very busy few months and people have been really more annoying than usual.
There is alot to do and think about once someone passes, but it still is not an excuse to be an asshole! And yes, I’ve lost loved ones and yes, I’ve been the one who made the arrangements. And during those times I was not a jerk to anyone just because.
I received a comment recently.. it was said that I was quick to judge. There may be times when I am, sure. But, probably more so outside of work. It is difficult to judge those people/families I work with because I actually get to know them. I’ve never met these people before, so when they come in I meet them for the first time and immediately get to know them. I work with them from the moment I speak to them on the phone or the moment they walk in the door so I don’t really get the opportunity to judge anyone before getting to know them, especially in this business. If there is an insurance assignment, it is to pay the funeral bill, anything left over goes to the beneficiary/beneficiaries. I hear the stories!

So, there it is, my rant. I’m just burnt out. . I’m sure those in the business can understand.

Life at a funeral home – WHY

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 18, 2016 by thefuneralbizz

I often wonder when it was that people became so rude, impolite, self absorbed? I’ve worked with the public pretty much my entire working life. I have always known there were “those” people, but I’m not sure if it’s me who is getting older and noticing it more or if people have really become so selfish, mean spirited, and well, assholes?
Every day almost I encounter someone who is just unpleasant. Wether it be on the phone or in person. I am speaking of work, but yes, of course I encounter them outside of work as well.. But it just seems that people do not have any hesitation being rude or speaking down to others. For example, we receive quite a few calls per day requesting pricing. We do not have any problem giving pricing over the phone. When I give pricing I explain to them what is included in that cost and what is NOT included. However, most of the time I cannot even begin to tell the person what is not included because I either get hung up on, the person will say, “what?!? NEVERMIND”! and hang up, or they will say, “that includes everything, right”? When I say no, I usually get, “that’s ridiculous, why is it so much”?!? I have people who have started bitching at me because the cost is high and they can’t afford it, or just be downright rude! Especially the ones who just hang up. Is it really that shocking that funerals are EXPENSIVE? And is it necessary to speak to someone that way? YOU called ME! I nicely answered your questions, I took the time to speak to with you, yes, it’s my job, but I would never speak to someone the way these people speak to me, regardless of the answer! If I called some place to request cost of something, why would I be rude in return just because I did not like their answer? ! ? Can people just simply say, “ok, thank you for your time”. Or even just, “thanks”.
I have also experienced quite a lot lately where people arrive for viewing  (the family) and other family members have not yet arrived. Now when people come in to make arrangements there is an informant. Usually that person is the next of kin. This is the person who is ‘in charge’. So if that person has not yet arrived and other family members have, we typically wait for them before letting anyone go into the chapel, unless the informant has told us previously that it is ok that people go in if they are not there. Well, you can imagine a group of people arriving expecting to be able to enter the Chapel for first viewing, which is considered the family hour, and we have to say that so and so has not arrived yet so we will have to wait for them…you would think people would understand this, but no. Usually they get quite pissy with us! I mean really? Here is let’s say, the grandkids and maybe some cousins and even the deceaseds siblings but the husband hasn’t arrived yet and the husband is the informant. So we tell them that that Mr. Whoever hasn’t arrived yet but once he does then they may go in. Why would we NOT wait?? This happens alot when we have a younger person and there are two sets of parents and also when there are siblings. If siblings arrive early, they seem to think they can just go on in. To be honest, I don’t care one way or the other. Well anyway, they get pissy because they have to wait and also think they are above having to wait. This not only happens with family but friends as well. We get so many friends that show up during family hour who feel they should be allowed to go in, regardless if family has gone in yet or not. Of course if the family is there, we will ask them, but if no one has been in yet, then no! Why would you think it’s ok for us to let you go in before any of the family has even been in? I’ve heard the excuse that they won’t be able to make it later, they have to go to work or whatever, so they just thought they would come by early. It just doesn’t work that way.
On to the next.. Life Insurance. I know that people want their money!! Don’t call me, call the insurance company!! Calling the funeral home is not gonna help you get your money faster. We want our payment too! So of course I have to explain, AGAIN, that it’s not uncommon for us to wait 30 days or more to receive payment. Also that we will only receive OUR portion, not yours! Your payment will be sent directly to you. Ok, they say. or they ask why it takes so long. . Then a week goes by and that same person is calling, AGAIN, complaining that it’s taking too long. Not my problem.. As I stated TWO TIMES  already, call the insurance company!
We ask our families who will be coming in to pick up the flowers, the family items (sign in book, extra prayer cards, death certificates, anything we removed from casket prior to closing casket, etc). We always ask them the evening before the funeral. We also ask if they would like the cards from the flowers removed and put in the bag with their family items. We explain to them that whoever they list will be the only people we will release the flowers to as well as anything else! It seems lately that this has become a big deal. Some people, wether it be family members or friends, feel that they are doing the family a favor by coming to the funeral home and trying to pick up everything for them “so they don’t have to worry about it”. Well, that’s nice and all, but we can’t let you take anything”. This seems to piss people off. They can’t grasp that flowers are “that big of a deal”. I don’t care personally, but the family does! Also, there are personal items as well, like jewelry, donation envelopes, cards, death certificates, etc. How do we know you aren’t going to help yourself to the jewelry or the donation envelopes and then say you didn’t take anything and blame the funeral home? When there are several children or siblings or whoever and they have to split up flowers because one person wants this plant and another wants this arrangement, do it at HOME! And NO, we do not take photos of each flower arrangement! And again, if you want to take pictures of each arrangement, DO IT AT HOME! I hate when family arrives to pick their things up and they stand there going back and forth over who is taking what and then arguing over it! I don’t really care if your employer sent that one or this one, just someone take it already! As far as the cards being removed, it’s really annoying when they have told us to remove them then when they come to pick them up, someone mentions that now they won’t know who sent what and now when doing Thank You cards your not gonna know!! You do not have to write in the thank you card that you are thanking them for the flowers they sent. You simply write the deceaseds name… and since I’m speaking of Thank You cards, you do not need to send a prayer card with each Thank You card! If you are sending out a Thank You card to someone chances are you are sending it to someone who came to the visitation and or funeral, right? So, more than likely when that person came to funeral home and or church, they took a prayer card! And what do most people do with those cards anyway? They hang on to them for a little while maybe.. or they put them away someplace and I bet most of them end up in the trash. I’m sure there are those who do keep them, but I’m sure most throw them away…eventually. But, anyway, unless someone wasn’t able to make it, but did send something, then yes, by all means, send them one, but if they signed the book, don’t waste your money by ordering more! I have so many families come back and ask if they can have more just for that reason. I always tell them they don’t have to send them, but…they want them anyway. I will usually just give them away, unless they want alot or if there was a photo on their cards. I had one family who wanted more and there was a photo on these particular cards, so not only did it take a day for us to get them ready for them it cost them over $100 because they wanted 100 cards! It’s just kinda ridiculous to spend that money on them when you already did and you are now going to send another card to the same people who already got one.
Most of our State is now on edrs, which just means we can file death certificates electronically. But there are still a few cities who aren’t on it, which makes it very inconvenient for me. I can’t do a death certificate on edrs if the city in which it files in is not using it. Also, many doctors still haven’t grasped that they can now sign a faxed copy of a death certificate, even when I try my hardest to explain to them that they can and why! Even though they have ALL been notified by the State of what edrs is and that they can sign a faxed copy! It just makes it all so much easier on us because otherwise we are running around dropping off and picking up death certificates. The doctor can be an hour away and when we go to their offices they don’t just sign them while we are there, we have to leave it and wait for a call letting us know its ready, so then we have to go to their office again to pick it up! Most doctors are not so cooperative when signing either. There are laws regarding time frame, but they really are not enforced and there are times when doctors will just leave it sit on their desk for days and we are calling the office asking if its ready yet. The office staff aren’t always pleasant to deal with either, which just makes the whole experience a pain in the ass!
Well, those are my recent rantings…
Hope you all are enjoying Spring, now that it has arrived!

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-I Dunno

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2015 by thefuneralbizz

I really couldn’t think of a title for this post…so, that’s why I just wrote I dunno..
It seems that lately we have been getting alot of people/families who just show up to the funeral home whenever they feel like it and call the funeral home at hours that are just really stupid..I have said it before, but unless it is an emergency, say if someone has passed away, there is no reason whatsoever to call us outside normal business hours! Now, lets say someone in your family has passed away. You have decided on a Direct Cremation. You will be having a service tho, but not at the funeral home, maybe you will be having a Mass at your church or if you belong to a club, like the vfw or some other type of organization. When you come for arrangements we will explain how long it typically takes to receive the cremated remains back. I have explained the whole process regarding cremation before (getting death certificate signed, getting the permit approved by the medical examiner, forwarding permit to crematory, the cremation itself, etc..), this way if the family wants to begin planning for any services outside the funeral home they can do so however, we also explain that sometimes it does not go as smooth as it should and there is always a possibility of delay. It never fails that a day or two later we get a call from the family asking…again…how much longer it will be before the cremated remains are back, because they have scheduled a service on a certain day. Well, if they in fact have scheduled something that is within the next few days, well, we have to tell them we will do our best but we cannot promise just as we explained during arrangements. At this point we now have to do everything we can to make sure we get the cremains back asap. Most of the time we manage to do so, I just wish people would really listen to us when we explain to them that it does take a few days!! Now alot of people also order urns. So now we have to make sure we get that urn as well..some times people get engraving on those urns, this is a different problem. That urn most likely will not be done and delivered in just a couple of days. So anyway, my point…Once we do receive the cremated remains we will contact the family immediately! We let them know that they are back and they can come pick them up. Normally they will ask how late we are there. They will usually say something like, ok, i think i can be there before you close or i will send another person (we of course will get that persons name from the informant so we know who is suppose to be picking them up. FYI if the informant or knext of kin does not tell us that they will be sending someone else to pick them up, we will not release them). So, this is what I really have an issue with; we have now jumped thru hoops to get these cremated remains back asap at the request of the family. We have contacted them, they are suppose to be by to get them by closing time….and they never show up! Maybe they call the following day and say they couldn’t make it but will be by that day but again, what time do we close? At this point we will usually lie and say we close a half hour earlier only because if we don’t, usually we lock up for the night and an hour later someone is calling saying they are at the funeral home and HAVE to pick up the cremated remains NOW! So…someone has to now leave whatever they are doing, eating dinner, shopping, sleeping, etc…to go back to the funeral home so these people can get the cremated remains. Understandable that they do in fact need them but, we were there when we were suppose to be! We are use to being inconvenienced however, in this sort of instance, it really is very annoying. If the family could have said to us that there really is no possible way for them to get to the funeral home by the time we close, we could have and would have asked, what time can you be here, we can have someone here at the time you are able to here. Or, we would have offered to bring them to thst person!! We do this often. Many times older people are just unable to get out and have to rely on orhers and we understand that. We always go to the length we have to in order to make a family happy. Maybe someone is just unable to leave work early, we will most certainly bring them to you at work as well. But to just not call and say you are running late…that is frustrating! Same goes for if you schedule an appointment. If you have made an appt. to come to pre-plan or maybe to have us help you with life ins. papers and you fail to show up and not call to let is know, well that also is very frustrating. Why? Because we have scheduled everything else leaving that time frame open for you. Who knows if we have received a new call and the family needs to come in to make at need arrangements, so we have scheduled them before or after you. It could also be that there is a funeral that day and your appt is prior to that funeral or after. If it was before and you don’t show up but show up later, noone is going to be there to help you. If it was after the funeral, maybe the Director has rushed back to the funeral home so as not to be late for your appt. and yet, you fail to show up.
This also goes for walk ins…of course, because you all know by now how much they irritate me! If we are not busy, it still bothers me that people do not call first, but it is not as frustrating as if we are busy, in the middle of a funeral service or another family is already there making arrangements. We recently had a family walk in for only pricing. They had called about an hour later to say that they wanted to come back because they wanted to use our funeral home and that theyvwould be back in one hour. This was in the afternoon. So one hour would be at 4pm. Fine, but…they did not show up. They did not show up at 5pm either. At this point we are thinking they must have decided to not use us or they mistakenly called us instead of another funeral home.. At 6:30pm they called because they were at the funeral home and noone is answering the door! Really! They said they had called us and told us they were coming! Yeah, they called, but 2 1/2 hours earlier! When the Director spoke to them and told them that we were there past 5pm but they did not show up or call, their response was that they are very upset and have had alot to do that day and now noone is at funeral home to help them! No, we are sorry or we apologize, we should have called or anything. So now we are dealing with a family who now has an attitude with US because they didn’t show up when THEY were suppose to! The director offered to meet them at the funeral home, it would just be about a half hour for him to get there. Nope, wasn’t good enough for them. The director asked if they wanted to come back in the morning? Nope. They said…they would let us know if they still wanted to use our funeral home, that they may now use another funeral home. Needless to say we did not hear back from them…and you know what? I am glad we did not!
We always are available. Most funeral directors are. But when we say we are always available, we are always available by phone 24/7 and if it is after regular business hours and you need to meet with us, we will also make ourselves available…even when you call us because you are at our funeral home and want to make arrangements. It may just take someone a few minutes to get there. We do not have the ability to snap our fingers and magically appear! 
When someone calls our funeral home to ask about visitation times for someone and we are not handeling anything for that person, well, we will say that person is not at our funeral home. If we for some reason know where that person is, we will relay that info to the caller. We get alot of people who will question why that person is not at our funeral home. We have no clue! Most funeral homes will service the same family for years, every person who passes in their family is brought to the same funeral home. So when someone passes away from a family that always uses the same funeral home but suddenly goes elsewhere, it becomes confusing for the rest of the extended family and friends to understand why they are at another funeral home. It is also confusing to us believe it or not, because if we are so use to serving that family and all the sudden they go elsewhere it makes us wonder why..did we do something wrong last time? Did we make them mad? What? But anyway, those family and friends who just assume they are at our funeral home will call to ask times, when told they are not at our funeral home, of course they are surprised but also question us as to why they are someplace else…again, we have no idea!! Some people will just show up to our funeral home thinking that the person is being laid out and they come in to find that they are not at our funeral home. Then the questions start…it is always, why not?!? Why are they at that funeral home? The family always uses your funeral home! We really dont have the answers!
And of course the one thing that I complain about alot..Death Certificates. We get that there may be a life ins policy and that maybe the deceased had younger children and you want that money.. But here it goes again…The death certificate may be pending. If so, that policy will most likely NOT pay out until it is amended!! Don’t ask us multiple times or call us later thinking you are talking to someone else and they are going to tell you differently. If it is pending it is pending and there is absolutely nothing we can do! It sucks I’m sure for those who have to wait. But nothing you say to us is going to change it from a Pending staus. You can call us, you can yell at us..you can call the Coroner..it is not going to change until the State receives the correction notice from the M.E. and then it still takes time! I personally think its ridiculous how long it takes to amend a death certificate, but I dont work for the State so I have no idea what the actual process is or why it takes so long except I’m sure they also have hundreds of others they are doing as well. We have younger people who pass away, say in their mid to late 40’s. Usually they have kids who are in their late teens or early 20’s. I am not saying that the kids are not upset that their parent has passed, but ine thing I do know is that those particular kids are difficult to work with when a death certificate is pending because they want that money NOW! It seems to be that whole generation..from my own personal experience or observations, I find that teens, ages 16 up to young adults, in their 20’s have this whole mindset of ‘I want it NOW’ and ‘I DESERVE to have/get what I want when I want it’! They really have no concept of what waiting is or what being told NO is..and I find it very frustrating. Some time I just want to haul off and slap them in the face and tell them that if they want something and they want it now then you have to go and get it yourself, it is not handed to you because you want it to be! You have to work for what you want!
Well..Until next time. Hope everyone is surviving winter (those of you who actually live someplace that has a long, cold, snowy, miserable winter).

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!

Life working at a funeral home-Rules

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 8, 2014 by thefuneralbizz

There are rules that we follow at the funeral home.. I’ve talked about the ‘Informant’ and what that means.. The informant is the person who is listed on the file as the person who is in ‘charge’ of things and usually this person is the decedents next of kin or sometimes it can be a child if perhaps the parents are very old and the surviving spouse says that the prefer to let the child handle things.
Now, if there are any questions we have, we will only contact the informant, unless otherwise told by the informant that we can contact someone else. So the ONLY person we will release the death certificates to is the informant. Same goes for the funeral bill, etc. This is also true for the cremated remains. We will not release them to ANYONE except the informant unless otherwise told by the informant that we can release them to someone else. If someone else in the family calls, whether it be another child, a grandchild, niece, nephew, brother, sister….and they want to pick up cremains…NO! Not unless we receive permission directly from the informant. These other relatives may be thinking they are doing the family a favor by picking them up and maybe they would be, but we dont know that! It amazes me just how many times we get people, who are not the informant or even a close relative who want to pick up cremains and when we tell them no they get upset. But what you need to do is stop and think about it, would you appreciate someone other than yourself picking up your spouse or parents cremated remains? I would think that most would be upset if the funeral released them to someone that was not appointed to. There may be some friction within the family that we do not know about. Maybe there is an ex wife? Even a girlfriend or boyfriend of the deceased who feels they should have the cremated remains. Maybe there are step children, etc.. Who knows what or why someone other than the next of kin would try or want to.pick up the cremated remains! Same for death certificates. I don’t think i can ever write too much about death certificates..lol. But so many times someone other than the informant wants the death certs. Not only are we not going to give you them because you are not the informant or next of kin, we are not going to because you did not pay for them…the informant/nok did. We arent ‘purposely’  withholding them from you! And no, we are not ‘illegally’ keeping them from you! We will NOT get involved with any family bickering or who is suppose to get what! If you want a death cert then ask the next of kin for one!! Why would you NOT ask the next of kin for one before asking us anyway!! For those of you who think that you need a death cert for work or school, as notice of attendance, you do not! You only need a work excuse wrote by one of the staff at the funeral home. If someone tells you otherwise, tell them to piss off. You should not be required to purchase a death cert for proof of attending a funeral! I get so many families who during the arrangement when asked how many copies of the certified death cert they need, someone will speak up and say..well, i need one for work and so will so and so, and you may need one too and so will..etc… No, you dont. If you feel more comfortable giving your employer a death cert, then we can make a photo copy. However, a death certificate is not going to show when the funeral service was, it will only show the persons date of passing, so really it is no good if your employer needs to see verification that you were really at the funeral.
Just an FYI to those who are not funeral home employees and have absolutely no clue what it takes to dress a body. Once we have a body dressed and in the casket….Please DO NOT ask us if we can put this sweater on grandma or…we found a different shirt for grandpa, or a nicer dress for mom… It is not like dressing someone when they were alive! And if the body is in the casker already, its a good chance hair has already been done, even all makeup. So all of that will have to be redone. It is NOT easy dressing a body let alone undressing and changing their outfit. Also, when you bring us the deceaseds dentures, after we have embalmed and set features, more than likely, we aren’t going to use them. We may take them from you and tell you, ‘ok..thank you’. But really, we are not going to use them. Probably by the time you bring them to us (I’ve had families bring them in immediately prior to viewing!) the body has already been embalmed and mouth already set and formed. We dont need the dentures to make the mouth look normal. We will just put those dentures under the persons pillow in casket. Also, the deceaseds hands are typically placed together over the abdomen, otherwise they would just be laying at the persons sides. For most, a rosary is placed in the persons hands but there are those who are not religious and thats ok, the family may have something else they want placed in the persons hands. Maybe a flower, a sentimental photo, it can be just about anything, as long as it can be placed there. But, I am still amazed at some of the requests families have… One family wanted to place a small book under their grandfathers hand….’hand’, just one hand.. so when explained that we would fold his hands together and place the book underneath, they said the didnt want it under both hands…not sure why exactly but when explained that the other hand would just be laying down at his side, they seemed somewhat perplexed. It is not always the easiest trying to explain to a family certain things about a body. You certainly don’t want to sound too technical or even unsympathetic when explaining that a body (a dead body) is not so easy to work with, manipulate. The deceased doesn’t always like to cooperate.
I have had people who have touched, poked and prodded at the deceased…then, they come and will tell us that the makeup is messed up….or worse. When I first started working at a funeral home I had a younger boy who passed. The mother wasn’t quite..’all there’. Granted her son had just passed away, but she was still a bit crazy. During visitation, while everyone was in chapel she decided she was going to start touching her sons face…she not only touched it, she really started poking and actually poked at his eyelids as well as his mouth. This caused some issues. You can’t really yell at her for touching her son, but she wouldn’t stop doing it! I had to ask her mother to please speak to her daughter and that it is not acceptable for her to do that to her son. Not only did she really cause a…mess, we had to ask her as well as everyone else who was there at that time to please step out of the chapel. I remember hearing the mom screaming and carrying on that we were keeping her away from her son and that she could do whatever she wanted because he was her son. Later thay evening, as visitation was ending, her mother was walking around looking around…I thought she was acting a bit strange..apparently the mother of the boy said she was going to hide in the building so she could stay with her son. She was laying underneath the couch in the chapel. Had noone found her and I locked up for the night and set the alarm. . . The alarm would have gone off and guess who would have been arrested..and guess whose fault she would have said it was…!!
When you have a loved one who may be in the hospital and on life support, the hospital may tell you to get your loved ones funeral arrangements in order or they will ask you if there is a funeral home to which you want to use once your loved one passes. So typically what happens is that the family will call us and tell us that their relative is being taken off life support and the hospital has told them to contact us because their loved one will be passing very soon. Well…I feel the hospital gives the family the impression that once they stop the ventilator that their loved one will pass immediately. It doesn’t always happen this way…usually, in my experience, it takes a a few days even can take months. I have experienced this personally, three times. In my personal opinion, I am no doctor…but from witnessing this first hand, I believe the younger the patient and what the diagnosis of their illness that caused them to be ill, the longer it may be. If it is a younger person, who has a strong heart, then the heart is going to work longer keeping that person alive. If it is an older person their heart is probably not that strong to begin with, so that person may not survive as long as a younger person. Also, like I said, depending on what the cause of illness is. Of course if that person had a major heart attack, then their heart is not going to work that well… My experience was with a relative who was in their 60’s who had a major heart attack. They had been without oxygen for at least 7 minutes and was resuscitated several times before making it to hospital. They were put on life support, never regaining consciousness and we were told that without the ventilator they would not survive. So we had to make the decision to take them of the vent. When we did, it took not more than 20 minutes. My other experience, a closer relative, had been struggling with a certain disease, they were placed on life support and we made the decision to take them off, we knew they wouldn’t want to be on life support. They survived over a week. There have been families that have rushed in to see us because their loved one was being taken off life support and they were told that it could be any minute…so they come in and get all the arrangements down on paper and we will typically keep the file at hand instead of filing it..There have been those that after a few weeks, we end up filing because that person has still not passed. So, one never really know just how long one will survive. You just dont know how long your body will fight to stay alive. I feel as if these families feel rushed to do something they really dont have to. Of course pre arranging your funeral is always a good idea, but when someone is so close to death, it is ok to wait until they pass to make final arrangements. I have has families that have a loved one near death, either in hospital or in hospice care and they feel rushed to make arrangements and they receive a call while at funeral home that their loved has passed on. This has happened more than once. Spend those last hours with them…not us.
When we receive a death call, there are a few questions we need to ask, name of deceased, person calling, where the person is at, a phone number incase we need to call them back, who is the next of kin, if they want to schedule appt to come in, and…permission to embalm. The last one always seems to be the most difficult. More times than not, people know if they want visitation or not, which will require embalming. But, we get those who just cannot give us an answer or not, maybe because they are undecided or they have to speak with their family first. I always tell them to.please let us know as soon as they decide, if they will not be coming in for arrangements right away, the sooner we begin embaming the better.
I know I have gone on and on about people and their food and their luncheons..but really, I cannot get over how focused people are on food! Had a family not too long ago who lost their mother and came in for arrangements on a Wednesday and scheduled the visitation for the following Sunday for a Monday funeral because….the place they wanted the luncheon could not accomodate them until Monday afternoon! I just feel this is ridiculous! They couldn’t go anyplace else. Or..just forego the luncheon all together!?! And…the thing is, they knew this prior to coming in to meet with us! So they actually contacted this place before even coming into the funeral home. That makes me think of another thing that really irritates me, when people start telling others when the visitation and funeral will be BEFORE they even come in for arrangements! We get phone calls inquiring about a person we dont even know we have yet. When we say, “….uhh, we don’t have anyone here by that name “, they say..”oh, well the family said…blah blah blah”. So…usually we can expect a family yo show up or call, and they say theu want whatever days..typically we can accommodate them, but there are those times when we may not be able to and what happens…? The family says they have already told everyone that it would be thosr days… Guess you shouldn’t have!!
I have also noticed lately that there seems to be a bit more crazy people around !  Seriously! Not sure why or whats going on, but people are just, weird. I hate getting yelled at over the phone by some people who think that it’s my fault that a family has decided not to have visitation or because a family is not having a church service or maybe because a family has decided on cremation instead of burial… It is not my fault! Geeeesh.
Same goes for when people call for pricing..Always get people who just get irate with us. I dont get it.

%d bloggers like this: