Archive for working in a funeral home

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 ūüėÄ


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 , 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 pretty much you are paying us thousands of dollars for you and your friends to hang out in our lounge eating. Dumb!

Life working in a funeral home – Paperwork and a question for other funeral home workers.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 23, 2014 by thefuneralbizz

First, the question.. How many of you that work at a funeral home do any Veterans Benefit paperwork for families? We had received a letter from VA in July stating that they have changed the way they will be giving death benefits. That the survivors should just call a VA counselor. Years ago, we would actually take the spouse of a deceased veteran to apply for any benefits due. Within the last few years we have just been giving the aplication to them and phone number to VA. Besides the marker application, flag apication and memorial certificate, we have been giving families the phone numbers for a counselor so they can walk them thru the steps and to see what benefits are available to the surviving spouse. How do you guys handle it? We always try to explain as clearly as we can to the family that we are only giving them this info and the funeral home has no way of knowing what ‘other’ benefits are available because we do not work with the VA whatsoever and to please contact VA if they have any questions. Which brings me to my next rant. No matter how much we try to notify the family of certain things, like VA benefits or the process of a pending death cert,we always get a call asking about va benefits or whats the hold up on pending d/c. We put instructions in an envelope for the family with their items they will get once the funeral is complete. But…we still get those who apparently have not bothered to look or read these things.

Secondly, I dont think many people/families realize just how much ‘other’ stuff we do at a funeral home. Even when we are there is usually always something to be done. I started to list all the things that we do around here when we do not have a funeral we are working on, but the list is just too much. None of those things are very hard to do, but some more time consuming than other things. I recently had a family who when they came back to pick up flowers asked about the cert death certificates. Usually we would have them ready for them with their flowers and any other items, but this particular time we did not have the death certs yet. The Director was actually out filing them at that very moment. I explained to the family that the doctor did sign it and that the director was out filing right then. The daughter in law of deceased made the comment, ‘boy, you guys sure do alot of things that i would have never guessed you had to do. It seems like alot of work and alot of running around, how do you guys keep up!?!’ It was nice that someone had actually noticed how hard we all work and just how much we do!! Instead of the usual ‘…how come the death certificates are not done yet?’, ‘what do you mean cremation takes a few days!?!’, ‘how come it takes so long for the life insurance? !?’, etc…¬† I mean, I get it..that in this day and age everyone expects things to be done NOW, no waiting. But there are things that take time! This isn’t a fast food restaurant.
So, next question is, how many of you who work in a funeral home will complete any life insurance claim forms for families who are NOT doing an assignment with rhe funeral home? And if you do help families fill out their claims, do you charge a fee for doing so? We do not charge..I feel we should. I dont think the fee should be alot, but still..sometimes those claim forms are a pain in the rear!! It’s hard enough doing the paperwork when we take an assignment on a policy! We go as far as contacting the insurance company for the family when they aren’t doing an assignment, then when they receive the claim forms they bring them to funeral home and we sit with them and we go thru it and tell them where to sign, we fill in all the info AND we will even mail it for them.
There are also those assignments we do that the life ins company will not send to funeral home and only send to families and we have to trust that the family will bring those to us once they receive them. There have been times when they do not, of course.. so I feel that we should not accept assignments on those policies. Then there are some policies that do not allow assignments, they are far and few between, but still there are some. For instance the VA will not allow assignments on their life ins policies. Which of course brings me back to the first question..I always give families the info they need to contact the VA, I will also give them info on anything else they may need, if its another life ins that may not accept assignments, I will at least get them the life ins company contact info and let them know what the life ins company will probably require from them. But…It never fails that I end up getting a call from a family asking what to do..READ THE PAPERWORK! !

Another issue we get..almost on a daily basis anymore is people call after hours and want something. We close at 5pm if we have no visitation and our answering service answers the phone. Just recently a woman called at around 5:20pm. The answering service answered. She called to say she was on her way to funeral home because she wanted some more memorial folders. Her father had passed away about 2 weeks prior and apparently she ran out and needed more. The answering service told her that the funeral home was closed and that she could take a message and let us know the following day. If this had been an emergency, than of course the ans serv would have contacted the director right away. But…this was NOT an emergency!¬† Understandably most people work until 5pm, as do we!! She should have called earlier and asked if we would be in at that time, someone could have waited for her had she only been a little bit after 5pm! She got mad at the girl at ans service. She said how absurd it was that the funeral home was closed!!!! And that she would just call back tomorrow! Well..never heard from her, which is probably a good thing. When people ask what time we close and we say 5pm, that means we lock the door, shut the lights off and leave! So why would you come at 5pm!! Then get mad when no one is answering the door. This happens all the time! And then they say, “i called and was told you were open till 5pm!” Uhhh, yeah, and we were! Im not sure why this confusing to some?!? I also dont feel it is ok to get pissy with us or with ans service because we are not here, physically, for you 24/7!! There are times when someone will ring the doorbell and before we can answer it they are ringing it again and knocking. We are not standing on the otherside of the door waiting to open it the moment someone rings the bell. We are more than likely in our office..WORKING. so as with anytime you knock or ring someones doorbell, you normally have to wait a minute before someone answers! Same here! We are not going to run to the door. We are not going to just stroll up there either, I will walk as fast as I can but please, PATIENCE! There have been times when someone has rang bell and before i can get to door, which normally takes me all of 5-10 seconds, they are either ringing the bell again or walking away! As most of you know, I am not a fan of rude people and find that I have a low tolerance for them and for anyone who becomes demanding. I feel that most people take advantage of us since we are ‘suppose’ to be so nice in this business. Yes, we are nice, but also we are not going to tolerate such bad behavior. I don’t necessarily think that before, maybe 20 or so years ago, funeral directors kissed everyone’s asses. In this day and age tho, I really think people feel that we should be kissing their behinds. Especially when it comes to paying for the funeral. We get all sorts of stories of why they can’t pay their bill or pay the whole thing by day of service even tho during the arrangement the payment terms were explained to them. I read articles all the time about how funeral homes over charge and how we ‘supposedly’ push more expensive items to make more money.. But in fact, it is just the opposite (where I have worked anyway). We want you to pay your bill, so we are not going to try to get you to pay more for services, a more expensive casket, etc.. And when I read stuff about how funeral homes push more items on families, it makes me mad because it is just the opposite. So many times we get families who are not financially able to pay for a ‘traditional’ funeral with a more expensive casket, but that is what they want! ! We try to explain that there are several different options available to them, more options that will fit their budget, but…they are insistent about it. Usually at that point we know we will have a hard time getting paid. And usually these are the very famies who give us a hard time or are high maintenance. They are the ones who think we shouldn’t ask them to pay..because, they just lost someone and now we are asking them for money…how dare we! I’ve said before and I’ll say it again…We are a business just like any other business. Without charging for our services we cannot keep our doors open! I do agree that a funeral is expensive. I agree that caskets and vaults are priced high as well as cemetery fees are outrageous, but I also think that groceries are over priced, fuel for our vehicles is ridiculous, I even think that toilet paper is over priced! Lol. But in the end, it is what it is. When our vendors, who supply the caskets, vaults, supplies, lower their costs, then we can lower ours however, I dont ever see that happening. Also, death is inevitable. It’s not something that may or may not happen, so it really shouldn’t come as a shock that one day each of us will be faced with paying for a funeral. I do understand that there are those cases where someone passes unexpectedly, and we are there to HELP you select services that you can hopefully afford.
As for pre planning, yes, I feel it’s an excellent idea and not just because I work in the funeral business. But…for those of you who may have someone that is ill and in a nursing home and have been told that you should pre arrange a funeral to use up that loved ones money so the state does not take it…you actually need to pay for it! What I mean is, we sometimes get people who come to us because they have been told that they need to do the above because mom/dad/grandma/grandpa, whoever, is in a nursing home and possibly close to death and the social worker has instructed them to contact a funeral home, make pre arrangements and that they need an Irrevocable Contract for the Department of Human Services. So, we will get the occasional family that comes in and we type up all the paperwork they need, which consists of the Irrevocable Guaranteed Funeral Contract and a Irrevocable Contract which goes to DHS. This paper is filed with the state. If for some reason you do not pre pay, or pre pay the WHOLE amount, that paper is useless. If that person has a life insurance policy, you can cash it out or you can assign it to the funeral home, BUT…assigning a life insurance policy to a funeral prior to death (so the State cannot take it), is alot of paperwork and takes a while to complete. The funeral home does not take that policy and get the money from it..right away, just like a pre need, that money is held by a third party until death occurs. But when you assign a life ins policy, the life ins company has to approve/agree to it. We have to send paperwork (and just fyi, they will require the original policy be turned in as well. If you do not have the original policy, usually they will accept a letter of lost policy), we also at the same time send paperwork to the pre need company (third party). The pre need company requires payment from the family to process this paperwork. The fee is typically about $200, maybe alittle less, maybe a little more depending in which pre need company the funeral home uses. So when you come to us to assign that policy over, you must pay that fee otherwise we cannot proceed. Once the life ins company receives notice from us that you are assigning the policy to us, they will return one of the forms we originally sent to them with their write off, we then must forward that to the pre need company. So this process can take a few weeks. This is not something that can be done overnight. Also, when death does occur, there are a few more forms that need to be filled out and signed and we turn those in to the pre need company, which notifies them of death and then they pay us. Keep in mind tho, if assigning a policy to a funeral home, the cost of the pre arranged funeral MUST be the exact amount that the policy is worth. So, if the policy is $10,000.00, then the pre arranged funeral must be for that amount. You have to assign the whole amount of the policy. But…they have a cap on the amount you can assign. I believe that amount is currently around $12,000.00, give or take, and usually this cap does go up each year. So if the policy exceeds that amount, you cannot assign it to us for that amount. They do make it confusing, and confusing for us because of so much paperwork!
Another issue I have noticed is when someone calls for pricing. They call and speak to one of us and we give them a price. If they are calling because someone has passed away, we will usually write down what price we gave them with their name on it because that way if they decide to use our funeral home we can recall what we told them. Typically if we get a pricing call from someone who says they have been calling around because someone has passed and they do not have alot of money and they are looking for the best price, we will try our best to work with them and probably offer one of our discounted services. We will be sure to write it down or at very least tell the other employees what we told them. We get alot of people who will call back the following day or a couple days later or even come and they will say they spoke with whoever and they gave them a price of such and such for whatever services… alot of times they will say something totally different than what the person quoted them. More than likely they think that if they aren’t speaking to the original person they got the price from, then they can maybe get away with lying about what services they asked for and the price they were given. But, since we only have a few employees, we usually know who gave what price. We typically ask for the persons first name or the name of the deceased. I had a caller just the other day who called and said he spoke with my boss the other day and he gave him a price for a one day visitation with next day service, but it wasnt for a visitation with next day service, it was for a one day visitation with same day service. I am sure there are those times when maybe someone misunderstood, but I also know when someone is trying to bullshit.. This particular call was because a younger person had passed and the family did not have a lot of money but wanted a traditional funeral. My boss told him what the cost would be and he told him there was no way the could afford that. My boss then told him his other options.. all of those options were for one day same day service. My boss also wrote this down with this persons name on a pad of paper. This man he was speaking to told my boss he wanted to come in to speak with him and my boss asked if he wanted to schedule an appt. The man said he could be in between 2pm and 5pm, not much of an appt time, but my boss told him that was ok because he would be there all day.. Well of course this man never showed up, never called. But..3 says later he called back and told me he spoke with my bosd about a funeral and he quoted him a price for visitation with funeral following day for x amount of dollars. Immediately I thought..that is NOT what we charge for that! I asked him when he called and who he spoke with. He told me he called a few days ago and spoke to ‘some man’ . I then knew it was that same guy and grabbed the paper with info. I told him that price was for a one day same day..including the casket. He insisted that whoever he spoke with told him otherwise and that he specifically asked for something cheaper because they had no money. I explained that my boss had wrote down the pricing he gave him. I again asked him if his name was ‘insert name’ and he said .. yes it is .. I told him that I could put my boss on the phone so he could go over it again with him if he would like. He declined. He said he would have to come in to see us face to face to get a correct price! So i offered him an appt but he said he would just come by.. I explained to him that i would need to set a time to be sure that someome would be at the funeral home to meet with him…i sure didn’t want to meet with him, i wanted my boss to meet with him because i knew he wouldnt try his bullshit with him, especially since he spoke to him in the first place.
Well…he said he would be there after 10:30am but before 2pm!!!! Uhhhh…thats kind of a pretty big time frame.. but he wasnt about to set an exact time, so I just said. “Well, ok, but if a director is not here, then no one will be able to meet with you..” he said nothing.. Well, he came in around 2pm and luckily my boss was there to meet with him. He did say ‘he thought the price was for a visitation and service next day’. My boss went over everything the discussed a few days prior. He did end up statying with us and scheduling a day of visitation and service. He was not too happy tho when we told him that if he wanted burial, visitation could only be until 2pm then the service would have to start so we have time to get to cemetery. He said that it was not a long enough visitation. We were doing our best to work with him and give him something that would work for him. It sucks when you have a younger person pass away because usually it is unexpected, so of course we are going to feel bad for those who do not have the ability to pay for alot..but at the same time, if you cannit afford it, dont do it. So, we were giving him all the options possible, but he was just not satisfied. He kept saying ‘I bet I can go to so and so funeral home and they will give me what I want!’ So finally my boss said, ‘well, if you are not happy with what we have to offer, then maybe you should go elsewhere, I can really not go any lower then I already have. I will give you this quote and you can let us know later when you decide’. I don’t think the man was expecting him to say that. I think he was expecting my boss to say..’oh, ok, we don’t want you to go anyplace else, so I will give you what you want’ . Don’t get me wrong, we will usually match or beat another funeral homes pricing if a family asks us to do so, but when the price is already so low that basically the funeral home is paying out money not making any money on a funeral, well…we aren’t going to do it. Especially not for someone who feels they are ‘entitled’ to it. He did end up staying with us and had a very nice visitation and service. He had 4 hours of viewing and a service at the funeral home then on to the cemetery. There were alot of people that showed up too. Just as I always say, when you have just a few hours of visitation during the day, thise usually turn out to be the busiest. It upsets me when people say that they HAVE to have longer visitation hours or two whole days because they have to give everyone a chance to visit the funeral home.. No, you don’t!
So, I’m not sure about everyone else, but our weather is changing…today is the first full day of Autumn… I cannot believe how quick summer went. I love Autumn, love the cooler weather, but do not love that winter will be here again. If it is anything like last winter, I’m pretty sure I may just not leave my house until Spring!

Life working at a funeral home ~ Autopsy Reports and Death Certificates (Again)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 5, 2014 by thefuneralbizz

A lot of times I get Asked by families where the autopsy report is. The funeral home does get the autopsy report or do we have access to it. The family must request and pay for it from the medical examiner, here where I live anyway. So if a death cert is pending and family wants the cause of death, getting the autopsy report is¬† good idea. Although it won’t help with life insurance companies or other legal issues, typically they require a death certificate with a cause of death. I had z man whose wife passed last summer, late summer, and her death cert was pending. He would call or stop by on a weekly basis to ask if it had been amended yet. There were¬† a few times that we would call the clerk for him while he was standing there and every time we had to re explain to him what the procedure of obtaining the amended was. He was a nice man and never was upset with us …… he may have gotten a little snippy once because he had been told by others that the funeral home was not doing their job an it does not take that long to get a death certificate……here’s an idea, those of you who do not know what you are talking about…..shut up! It doesn’t take that long to get a death certificate, it takes that long, depending on where you live, to receive an amended death certificate! Also a company that was requesting a death cert from him to tie up some legal/financial affairs was really getting on him about sending in a death cert. This company was a place that we know well and we couldn’t understand why they were telling him that they were not going to pay out money owed to him without an amended death cert…. well come to find out, it was not that they were insisting he present an amended death cert, they needed a CERTIFIED death cert, didn’t matter if it said Pending on it or not, it just had to be certified with raised seal, which we can get as many certified copies you like, but the clerk still charges regardless, so most of the time it is not really worth paying for certified copies of a Pending death cert and then paying again for the amended. But, if/when you are in a similar situation, be sure to ask if, whoever you are dealing with, will accept a certified pending!! This saves a lot of headaches, for everyone!!
On to one more thing…. did anyone see the news about the man in Mississippi who was pronounced head at the hospital and once he arrived to funeral home, he began kicking while in boy bag in embalming room?!?!?!? I would totally shit my pants!
Hope everyone is doing well!

Life working at a funeral home – What do you say…?!?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 1, 2014 by thefuneralbizz

So, the other day the front door buzzer goes off. I answer it. A family walks in, there were 4 of them. I say, “Hi, what can I help you with?” One of the women says, “…..(sigh) we are here to see Jack, thank you.” As she continued to keep walking away from me to go sit down and the other people followed her which left me standing alone….now normally I would just say, “OK, I will go get him, and your name is?” However, in this instance, we do not have a Jack that works for us! So this caused me to, politely say, “I’m sorry, but there is no Jack here, do you mean maybe Dave (using false names)?” She spun her head around so fast I thought immediately of the movie, the Exorcist! She said, “I said JACK, that is who I spoke to and made an appointment with!” Again I told her there is no Jack, did she maybe speak to another funeral home, there are 3 others on the same street and 2 of them are within a 5 mile radius. Well, now one of the men that was with her says to her, “are you sure its this funeral home?” She says, “YES! And how am I expected to remember the guys name I spoke with, I thought he said his name was Jack, it was certainly not Dave!” So, all this time I am trying to ask if they were here because someone passed away. When I was finally able to ask, she said “OF COURSE…why else would we be here?!?” I said the reason I was asking is because for one we did not have any appointments scheduled today for arrangements and we were not notified of any deaths that occurred…. but I said I would go get Dave and ask if he knew anything and he would be up in a moment to speak with you. The next rude thing out of her mouth was, “and this is going to take how long?” I replied,¬† “only a minute.”¬† So I went to get Dave and explained what was going on…so he went up to speak with them. So he walked up front and said Hello, I am Dave, how may I help you? The woman said, “I TOLD that girl we are here to see JACK!” So h explained there is no Jack that is employed at this funeral home and asked if they were sure that they were at the correct funeral home… she said, “why would I come here otherwise!” So Dave said that he would be more than happy to help them, if they wish, but he could not get¬† “Jack” because there is no Jack! In the meantime, I went into the office and I called the other funeral home down the street to see if there was a jack at their funeral home. Low and behold there is! I explained what was going on and that if he could please hold so I could go let Dave and the family know and I was going to put the lady on phone with Jack… so I went up front and gladly interrupted everyone and said that I have the¬† funeral home down the street on the phone, and his name is Jack and he would like to speak with you. Needless to sat she was reluctant to budge from her seat as if somehow I was suppose to bring the phone to her, we do not have a cordless phone and even if we did I would not have brought it to her anyway. She got up and picked up the phone and said, “Yeah?” Only other word I heard her say was, “if we must.” Which I am assuming she was replying to him asking her to come down the street to meet with him. So she hung up the phone, walked passed Dave and I and nodded to her family and headed for the door… no “good bye” no’ thank you” no nothing!
So yeah, of course I was more than irritated that I had to tolerate a person who is that rude and inconsiderate. was I a bitch in return o her? No. Which after this happened, made me think about some of the comments I receive about my blog and how they can’t believe how I bitch about my job/people I deal with. This woman could have waled into any businesses, a gas station, a grocery store, her doctors office, etc. I’m pretty sure she is¬† a miserable person regardless of who or where she is and even more positive that had she been elsewhere that other people probably would not have continued to be nice and help her. But since she walked into our funeral home, we were still nice to her, continued to be helpful to her. I can’t say that had she walked into another funeral home they would have been as nice or have continued to help her. Those of us who work in a funeral home come in contact with a lot of people. A lot of ‘different’ people. And I assume ‘most’ of us know that not everyone is polite, nice, appreciative, etc. And in most instances those who encounter such people, do not necessarily have to ‘put up’ with these people if they do not wish to or are able to simply walk away from them or even confront them or call them out on their behavior. We, who who work at funeral homes typically do not have that option. We just simply have to suck it up and deal with it. Of course there has been a time or two when, yes, we have had¬† person or even a family who has been vulgar and unmanageable and eventually we or another employee or Director has finally just had to say, enough is enough! We have had people make threats, swear constantly at us, call us names when there is something v we are unable to do. There are certain things that we cannot help people with, such as giving out personal info. Believe it or not we get a lot of phone calls from people who will say things like, “I knew so and so who is being laid out at your funeral home but I am unable to make it to the visitation/funeral can I have his/her spouse/children/parents phone number/address so that I can send a condolence?” Of course we are not going to give that info out. You would be surprised how people react when you tell them NO. I love when someone will say how they were such good friends of the deceased and their family but yet want their contact info. If in fact you were/are such good friends with them, then wouldn’t you have their info? And I don’t think most people would appreciate someone giving out their info. There are the families who cannot get along with each other or get along with the deceased boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. So they expect us to not allow these certain people into the funeral home. Of course there is nothing we can do to prevent someone from showing up for visitation/funeral services. We do not have door men or security guards or bouncers, this is not a bar or night¬† club! So when this is explained to the family they dont usually like our answer and will say something like, “well we can’t promise there wont be a fight here then” or we have ha families say that it IS our job to make sure this person is not allowed in, which it is not! And that if something happens they will sue us….¬† yeah OK…¬† so in the past we have had people who were not wanted show up for visitation or funeral, first off, how do we know who they are.. !?! and the family has come to us saying that we are incompetent and did not do our job because we allowed this person in the funeral home or at church or at cemetery.. and believe me, we have had a few families who really let us have an ear full and calling us names and threatening us. So at that point we politely try to say not to speak to us that way and that if they continue to do so we are going to hang up or if they are in person, ask them to leave and if they do not we will call the police to have them removed. And if they do not comply, well, we will hang up or call the police. We had a woman who lost her son not long ago. It was a bad situation and it was not a death that was due to natural causes, if you know what I mean..of course she was blaming his girlfriend for what happened. So it was one of those situations where one minute she was OK with the girlfriend and then one minute wanted the girlfriend gone. This became the funeral homes problem….or at least that is how the mother looked at it. We kept telling her we could not control who comes in and we would only call the police if they or anyone else started to fight or if any threats were made. One minute she said she understood and the next minute she was yelling and screaming at us and accusing us of being on the girlfriends side and just acting crazy. So apparently this girlfriend showed up to mass at church or so says the mother of deceased….now we had no clue she was other and the mother said she saw her in the back. Not only did the mother accuse us of allowing this to happen she also told us that we did not know how to do our jobs! When we explained again that we cannot control who shows up at church and finally told her that we have had enough of her yelling at us, she then asked in a very weird voice, “have you ever heard of channel (insert TV new station here)? I replied, “of course” and she said, “well then you know that after I call them they are going to put your funeral home out of business!” And she hung up. Well needless to say we did not hear back from her or ant TV news station. A few weeks later tho her name was mentioned on the news because there was a court case going on about her son and apparently she did not show up to court because she did not want to see the girlfriend….
Another example of people we have to deal with or for better word, accommodate, was a family who were having visitation and the daughter of deceased was ‘in charge’. Well she wasn’t happy with the seating in the chapel. I think her mind she had how seating is at a wedding. She wanted chairs separated by side of the family. We tried to explain to her for one, we just don’t have the room to separate the furniture to make an aisle way down the center. She insisted that we did. Again we told her we could not do that because then we would blocking the doorways and we just would not do that. And secondly, normally you don’t separate by sides if family at a funeral. So then since we wouldnt move all the chairs around for her she then asked if we had some more tables to bring in the room, there is no room for more tables! So we told her no. After that she treated each of us like dirt. She complained about everything. She complained that there was not extra toilet paper in bathrooms, which there was, there are extra rolls in the dispenser! If we weren’t standing next to coffee pot the second someone took the last cup, she was complaining that we weren’t being quick enough!
And lately I have been dealing with a few people who seem to be in rush about everything. When will we have the death certificates. When will the cremated remains be back. When When When! And its not like we don’t explain things to people. We her, “well, I am leaving g town on such h and such day so I need them by then” or “we want to have a memorial at our chur h on such and such day, so when can we get the cremated remains back?” Listen, we can’t force or rush the Medical Examiner to sign and approve the cremation permit…believe me, we try! It just doesn’t work that way! We can’t force a doctor to sign a death certificate if he/sh is not in on a certain day and we have to wait! And we can’t make the crematory go any faster than possible! So what really irritates me is when someone asks his long it will be and we explain all of this and they still try to get us to say “oh, just a couple of days” we never give a family an exact day unless we are positive that we will be getting the cremains that specific day! I hate when people try to get you to say something that you have told them you cannot promise, just so they can come back and say, “well he/he told me it would be done today”!¬† Same thing with death certificates. Just the other day I was explaining a pending death certificate to a family and told them it can take months before we get the amended back. The brother just kept saying¬† ” yeah, we are gonna need it before then” and I kept saying “well, hopefully it wont take that long, but there is nothing anyone can do to speed it up”.¬† He said “why can’t we get it sooner, we have a lot of financial issues to take care of” so I explained what I had just explained 5 minutes prior! It is out of the funeral homes hands if it is pending!! Call your state vital records and complain because complain to me is not gonna help! Because if I could speed it up, I so would, because I certainly don’t want to keep explaining the same thing over and over to you and have to listen to you bitch at me for not having the amended death certificate for you yet even tho i have explain it to you over and over again!¬† I also love when I am told that we are not doing our jobs because a friend of your got their loved ones death cert in 4 days…. Yes, they probably did, because it was not pending!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Life at a funeral home – who what when why

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 22, 2014 by thefuneralbizz

Those seem to be the 4 words I often hear. More so lately. Either from families. By co.workers. Doctors offices. Insurance companies. Cemeteries. Church. Etc…
One of the most common questions we get right away from a family is “when will or his long will it be before you pick up my (insert deceased here). At our funeral home we use a removal service. IF it is at a hospital that is near to us and we are not busy and have the staff available, then we will go. If the body is at the medical examiners, we will also do the removal. But….if it is a home death, no, we do not do the removal, the company we have does it. So…when a family asks us how long we will be we HAVE to say approximately an hour. Typically it is sooner, but if we say “oh about a half hour” then guess what? The family is going to be calling us saying “YOU SAID you would be here in a half hour”! So best to say that its gonna be longer than it really is. Also, when we have a removal at a hospital, regardless if it is us doing the removal or our removal company, we cannot just run to the hospital and take the body. We HAVE to wait for clearance from the hospital! We HOPE that the hospital explains the after death procedures to the family…but I assume there are times when they don’t. So once we do get they call that a person has passed and we are not making the removal, we call our removal company and notify them that we have a removal at such and such hospital, we give them the name of deceased, next of kin and IF we know if that person us ready or not. After that phone call the removal company takes over. They will contact the hospital to see if the body is ready for release. Once they get the OK, they will go. If when we receive the call and it is a family member who is calling us notifying us of death, we will typically explain that we will make removal once we get clearance. Some families will still ask how long will that take? Well, we don’t know! It is up to the hospital! So… when a family continuously calls us evey hour to ask if we have their so and so yet or why we haven’t picked them up yet its very frustrating, especially when it is in the middle of the night! And when we tell you again, we HAVE to wait for the hospital to tell us we can come and their response is something like “well she died 2 hours ago, I am sure she is ready”. We cannot show up to make removal just because YOU say so! And when the family continues to call and asks why we haven’t picked up yet but they use that accusatory tone, as if we just forgot about their loved one, I hate that!!!! We don’t only get that accusatory tone when it comes to removals, we get it with everything, and not just from the family. We get ALOT of people who call us about service times and first thing out of their mouths is, “it is NOT posted on your website!! So I am calling to find out vis times and funersly times for Mr/Mrs so and so.” Well, there are many families who DO NOT want it online! We do not ask why!! Also, we may not have the details yet!! The family may not have come in yet to make arrangements. Or maybe they are at the funeral home in the process of making the arrangements! Or…maybe they have come in but are undecided!! I cannot begin to say how many times I receive phone calls for info on vis and funeral day and times and I tell the called, “I’m sorry, I do not have that info yet, the family is not coming in until later/tomorrow/or the family is here now. And what does the caller say? “So you can’t even tell me what day!?!” NO I CANT! If I don’t know than I don’t know!! So we get, “when will you know?” We also get people who get pissed if there is no obit in the paper!!!! How is the the families decision not to place an obit in the paper our fault!?! And how is it acceptable to ask the funeral home WHY WE did not place an obit in the paper?!? It is not up to the funeral home to place an obit in the paper. It is up to the family if they want one. If they do we will do it for them, but it costs money to place an obit! And it costs a lot!! I’m talking a couple hundred dollars! A regular size obit, if you can call it a ‘regular size’ obit, in our local paper without a photo will typically cost around $150.00. With a photo, between $200 and $250. If family wants a notice in the city paper, then it will run more than $200 and with a photo, probably close to $300! So ‘most’ of you can imagine that a lot of families cannot even afford to place one! So no matter if a family places an obit or not, we still offer to post it on our website at no charge with or without a photo! There are also deadlines, which I have mentioned before in some of my blogging, and if a family comes in to make arrangements on a Tuesday after 11am (deadline for our Wednesday local paper), then they will not be able to place an obit in the local paper until the next print date, which is Sunday. So if they decide to have visitation on say that Thursday and funeral Friday, the obit will not be able to go in until Sundays paper, which is obviously after the fact! In that obit it will say “services were held on Friday”. So for those who for some reason get pissed that there is no obit in the paper, ask the family why NOT the funeral home!!
I can’t remember if I posted about prayer cards/memorial folders or not but when a family comes in for arrangements, they choose which ones they want and what prayer they want. If the family wants something ‘special’ like a photo with maybe some sort of special effect or lid maybe a frame around the photo or if they want some other prayer we don’t have and cannot fit it on the card with our program, we will have a printing company print them. When this happens we make it clear to the family that if/when they run out during visitation/ service, than that’s it, there are no more. Some will say, “oh that’s fine, we understand.” Or they will order more than the standard 100 that we typically do. They have to pay extra for what they are getting, meaning not only extra for the amount but for the special photo and or prayer. So many times we get people who are there fairy the funeral who come to the staff and say, “….there are no more cards in there, you need to put some more in there!” Or, “there are no more cards in there and I did not get one, can I have one?” When we say there are no more, 90% of the time we get a nasty look or a “what? There aren’t anymore? Are you kidding me”? Nope! I’m not kidding you! I have had people who have actually said a few choice words over the fact that they did not get a prayer card! How absolutely absurd is it that someone has to swear, OUT LOUD, in front of other people, about not getting g a prayer card! Grow up! Because honestly, are you really gonna keep that card? And if you are gonna keep it, do you like frame thrmy or something? Because unless you are family, I highly doubt that you will remember where that card is 6 months from now! It is not something to throw a tantrum over! And again, it is NOT the fault of the funeral home! It is also not our responsibility to explain to anyone why there are no more!! It is noones business! Not that we are usyalkyy given the opportunity to explain anyway.
Another thing that has been coming up a lot again is food at the funeral home. I guess some funeral homes don’t have this problem, maybe it depends on the area in which you live, I don’t know… but the last few families we have had have wanted to bring in food, not just snack of sandwiches, but meals like in crockpots. I will never understand this, for as long as I have worked in the funeral business and as fairy as long as I continue to work in the funeral business, I will not get the whole ‘let’s make a bunch of food an bring it all to the funeral home’ thing! They will usually call us the day before visitation or ask during arrangements if we allow food in the lounge. We tell them yes, but only food that does not need to be kept warm! No crockpots, no warming plates, etc.¬† Why!” Us what they always ask! Well, for starters, if you have something plugged in to jeep warm/hot and someone burns themselves or knocks it over and it hurts someone else, either by burning them or if someone slips and falls, etc… the funeral home can be held liable fairy those injuries. And two, we do not have a license to serve food. And 3, bugs and rodents, now this third one applies to any type of for or drink, especially when those peopkey who bring their children with them but feel no need to keep their eye on them because, well, apparently a funeral home is comparable to a babysitter! Let me clarify something, the funeral him is NOT a safe place to let yiury children run around or to be left unattended! I do not enjoy hearing your kids yell and scream nor do I like it when they decide they wabty to explore other areas if the funeral home that they do not belong in, like my office! I do not find it cute whatsoever. I don’t like telling other people’s children to not do something, that is not place or at least it shouldn’t be! I will if I have to, but usually after I do that little brat runs to mom or dad and tells them that I yelled at them and guess who is getting nasty looks for the rest of the day! But back to the point, those who leave their kids alone and around food and soda pop make a mess! They drop food and spill soda and things get stickey! I have found chips and m & M’s embedded into cushions of the chairs we have in part if the lounge, under the cushions I should say. We get ants from all the sweet stuff, so we have to get rid of the ant. If a family comes in and sees ants all over the place, they are gonna be turned off, right? So if you would not let your kid grind chips and candy into your cushions at home then do not let them do it at a funeral home, better yet, if you must bring them with you at all, don’t plan on staying!!!!!!!!!!!! And that is another reason not to bring in an assload of food, people will stay longer if you bring in food! Why bring in a ton of for during the visitation when most likely you will be having a luncheon after the funeral!? So you are now basically feeding these people twice! There is no reason for families to think they need to bring in food for those coming to pay their respects! Those people are coming to do just that…Paying their respect to the deceased, not sit in the funeral home lounge and eat! They are ‘suppose’ to be coming for you, your family and the deceased, not to eat. If they are stopping on their way home from work, there is usually coffee, they can grab a coffee or water, say what they need to and go home. Usually the family is too busy to sit and bullshit with any one person for more than a few minutes anyway because other people are arriving as well.
Well, I’m done bitching for the day…..except for about his damn cold it has been lately! This is ridiculous!! Those of you living anywhere where it has been bitterly cold know what I am talking about! It isn’t even funny anymore, it is downright awful. -15 I’d NOT fun!! Keep warm everyone dealing with this cold and more important, be safe!!

Life at a funeral home-i’m back

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 29, 2012 by thefuneralbizz

Well its been sooooo long! Computer still not working so blogging from phone…excuse any spelling errors.
Work has been very very very busy!
Let me begin by saying this; Do NOT tell ANYONE when the visitation & funeral will be until you actually make the funeral arrangements!! I hope that ‘most’ people would know this. What I dont understand is why some people tell family & friends (especially those who live out of town & need to make travel plans) what days & times visitation will be & day & time & place of funeral service will be BEFORE you actually come to the funeral home to make the arrangements!!!!! Even if you call & ask uf those days & times are available so yoy can let people know that more than likely it will be such & such day…. because when it comes to death…well it is not predictable…so we have NO WAY of knowing from one day to the next when we will get a death call and or arrangements or even a family who just walks in! This brings me to a family from a few weeks ago who did just THAT! and guess who they were pissed at….yep…us. For starters they did not call for appt. We received call in middle of night…from the nursing facility where this person passed. So in the morning on the call sheet it said family to call in morning to set up arrangement time. Well…about 10:30am we hadnt heard from them & since we had 4 other arrangements that day my we called the family to ask when they wanted to come in. They said they lived half hour away so they would call us sometime after Noon to set it up. Ok..fine..I said to one of the Directors…”so how much you wanna bet they dont call & just show up”? Sure enough…someone rings the bell..I go answer the doir cuz 2 Directors are with other families (who made appts) & I knew who it was right away but acted as if I had no idea who they were. I asked them what I could help them with. They proceeded to tell me who they were…I told them that both Directors were with other families, that we were not expecting them & thought they were going to call us for a time to come in. They said they just figured they come in once they were all ready … hmmmm om then. I told them it was going to be a few so have a seat. Now we have had families come in before that have had to wait…they will usually sit up front & talk wirh each other and we always offer them something to drink & they sit quietly & wait. Now remember we have 2 other families in the building making arrangements for their loved one who has just passed to. Well this family was SO LOUD! It was rude…! So eventually they met with the director & they of course wanted a day that we already had 3 other families starting their visitation. They said that they insist theu have that day because theu already told everyone that was the day!! Well…guess you shouldnt have told anyone those days BEFORE making the arrangements!! WTF!?! they actually asked us for the other families phone #’s so they could call them to see if they would switch days with them!! Are you freakin kidding me..!!! They would NOT accept that we were already going to be over crowded wirh 3 families on the day theu wanted. At one point one of the daughters said “well i wish we would have known this before we told everyone when it was going to be” ..UUUHHHHMMMM YEAH NO SHIT!!! Wht on earth did you tell everyone anyway!!! So in the end they got their way but were told that there would be very limited space and we could do nothing about it. Well…here comes day of visitation & guess who isnt happy…guess who asks “so where are we suppose to sit & drink coffee & have snacks..”? I wanted to say…”you were told when you insisted on today that we would be overcrowded” however we made some space in the back where we were able to set up some table & chairs & get them some coffee. So one of the employees said to them that they were going to get the coffee made & room set up to give them 10 min. Apparently that wasnt good enough for them because the daughter went into room where we were putting their coffee & saw that another employee was in that room on the she came to office & said “our family wants a place to sit & were told that room down there we could use so can you get up & tell whoever that is back there to get out”?….. my first thought was to get up walk over to her and jam my pen into her eyeballs…but I restrained myself from doing so but could feel my hand gripping the ink pen harder & harder as I told her that ut would be just a few more minutes until the room was ready & that the employee who was on phone in that room was cleaning up in there for them & just happened to answer the phone when it rang! thank you…no im sorry…just walked away…i could feel my arm start to raise…the arm that the hand with the ink pen was in….thoughts of sprinting down the hall & jabbing the pen into the back of her head flashed in my mind. . . That sounds so horrible but at this point in the day with 3 other families who all were complaining about the other family having more room in the lounge for ALL there freakin food!! The one family did have WAY WAY too much food. It was ridiculous…foil pans full of food everywhere…they had 2 extra tables…and at one point asked for another … we told them we didnt have anymore & we have to accomodate ALL our families…each of these families who were there all knew that they would be sharing the funeral home with 2 other families. They were all told this during arrangements & the one family who made their arrangements first were called & we explained the situation to them & they were fine with it…that first family was pretty much the only family that didnt have something to bitch about!! I think they onlt asked if they could have the heat turned down & if it was ok if they had a few cups of coffee in chapel for the older people..
So yeah…I at one point wanted to pound my head off the wall…especially the day before all the havoc began because we had one family in for visitation and the decided to bring their small child…who screamed & cried & carried on ALL FUCKING DAY!!!!!!! so the thoughts in my head began to turn. First was to tape the kids mouth shut. But then I realized why punish the snot nosed kid..I should go punch the parents who decided it was a good idea to bring their child to the funeral home all day! At one point this small child came running into the front office & pushed a chair that was next to the door over…I got up…walked over to the kid whose nose had green snot dripping out of it…said NO..out..turned it around and gave her a slight push thru the door way while I looked down the hall for a parent or other sign of any adult & didnt see anyone at all…so oncw the kid was out of the door way I shut the door & locked it, sat back down & continued on wirh my work. It is NOT my job to watch your children!! If you think it is proper to bring your child who obviously has just started walking & is obviously bored & has no concept of right & wrong to a place where there is nothing for them to do than you yourself have no common sense & should not be allowed to reproduce!! Plus the fact that this kid was sick is even more dumb for you to bring it! I heard conversations the following day when we had 4 families at funeral home for visitation that made me sick just hearing them…one person was talking to another about where so & so was at. Well apparently they were outside cleaning up the front seat of their car because on the way they threw up because they have the flu but will be in as soon as they finish cleaning the vomit from the car floor & seat… wtf?!? And another telling someone they couldnt get there earlier because they had just come from doctors because they have tonsilitis! This is how germs are spread people…this is how everyone gets sick! Keep your ass at home if you are sick….geeeeezus!
I could keep going…but for now I have to stop…I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking
about alk of this!!
Hopefully I will be able to blog more often now & maybe one of these days I will get my computer fixed.
Hope everyone has a safe & happy new year!!

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