And So Begins My New Life

Join me as I embark on a new life and new career in Funeral Services.

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Location: Southeast, United States

I'm a Funeral Services graduate embarking on a new career. I graduated high school in 1981, served honorably in the United States Navy from 1982-1986, been married since 1986, and have one son. I've relocated to a new state and have begun working in my chosen profession of Funeral Services, and I've never been happier.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Not One Of My Better Days

I'm feeling kind of down right now because of the way my day played out. Let me start off by saying that the first thing on this morning's agenda was preparing the funeral of a baby. Everything was taking place at church, so we needed to be there by 9am. In addition, we had an afternoon visitation starting at 2pm, so we had to make sure that body was dressed and in the casket before we left for church. So we got that body ready, then I put on my tie (in a hurry) because it was time to go.

We get to church and we have to set up a table in the sanctuary so we have a place to set the casket. Then we bring in all the flowers and get those set up, then the table for the guest book and memorial cards, and finally we bring the casket in to a separate room where the family can have some time with the baby. Some of the flowers we brought in went to the private room; the rest we put into the sanctuary. Right in the middle of setting up flowers in the sanctuary, my boss notices my tie is loose. As I said, I tied it in a hurry. He decides that since this is the second time in three days that my tie has been loose, I don't know how to tie it. (It was loose the other day because I was moving some stuff around and had loosened it around my neck and forgot to neaten it up when I was done.) So he's giving me grief about my tie and telling me I'm forgetting to put in an extra loop or twist or something. Basically, he wants me to tie a full windsor knot, and I prefer a half-windsor.

Well, I know that seems petty, but the fun keeps coming. One of our employees brought the rest of the baby's clothing from the funeral home (the family had given us a couple of outfits to use, depending on how the embalming turned out) as well as the completed death certificate, which needed my boss's signature. So he walks in and asks where the boss is. I told him the boss had stepped out for a minute, so he just hands me all this crap, like I'm supposed to know what to do with it. He could have held on to it for a while. But, I take it and put it somewhere safe. Then the boss comes back and I have him sign everything, then another employee runs it to the health department for filing. I get a call a short while later on my cell phone. There's a problem with certificate, so I pass my phone to my boss. Why they didn't call his phone, I don't know. Maybe he didn't feel it vibrating in his pocket when they did call. Anyhow, he talks on my phone for a couple of minutes, then gets exasperated and says, "let me call you back on my phone." He hands me my phone back and says, "your phone isn't working right." Funny, I never have a problem with it.

Then it's time to get ready for the funeral (we arrived about 2 hours prior to services starting). The plan was to take the rest of the flowers into the sanctuary after the family had been escorted from the private room by the pastor. We go in to take a couple of pieces early, and one of them is blocking the rear exit. So I pick it up so my boss can open the door, and he starts fussing at me, "wait! wait!" Sorry, I was just trying to move it out of your way so you can open the door.
Anyhow, we get a couple of pieces moved out, saving the rest for the start of the funeral. After we got those pieces, the other employee comes back with the certified copy of the death certificate. He shows it to my boss and says, "we've got the copy, but we need a photocopy for our files." So my boss says, "go to the church office and have them make a copy." So the guy just hands the certificate to me, like I'm his little personal secretary.

His excuse was, "I don't go to church so I don't know where the office is." Well, I don't go to that church, either, but I dang well know how to read the signs on the wall that say "Office-->"

By that time I had had enough of everything and everybody, so when the services started I just went into the private room by myself and listened to the services, which were very heart-wrenching. The pastor spoke, and one thing he said that I totally agreed with was how life was unfair sometimes and bad things happen and we don't understand, and don't let people tell you "it's God's will" or "we can learn a lesson from this" and those kind of crappy sentiments people sometimes say at times like these.

Toward the end, each parent got up and read their child one last bedtime story. As you can imagine, the entire audience was in tears by this point. It really affected me, as well, because I'm also a parent, unlike the other three people who were working with me.

I know these incidents sound minor, especially as I sit here and re-read them, but really, I guess it's just my frame of mind, coupled with the long hours this week (close to 50) and being treated like everybody's kicking boy at every turn. I know I'm the new guy and I know I've got a lot to learn, but I also believe I've proved myself and deserve a little more consideration than I was shown today.

That's my gripe, thanks for listening.

P.S. Read this post and then return here:

Ever since I sent the cremated remains away, the husband has been in touch with me at least once a month, hoping to have some word on when the ceremony will be performed. The Navy says it takes from 6 to 9 months for the ceremony to finally occur, and as of last month we were still waiting. Today he passed away. I can't help but wonder if he worried himself to death. He kept telling me he couldn't sleep and how miserable he was not knowing what the Navy was up to, and how much he missed his wife. I contacted the Navy and they said they could perform a double-ceremony, if the family wishes. I'm sorry he died before the Navy took care of his wife.


Blogger Naomi said...

Everyone has difficult days sometimes at work. It must be especially difficult in the line of work that you are in, especially when babies and children are involved. It takes a special kind of person with a lot of compassion to do the kind of work that you do. Everything seems worse too when you're tired and stressed. It's a new industry and I'm sure there is a lot to learn. It sounds like your boss is expecting too much from you too soon before you've had a chance to learn everything. Hang in there, I'm sure next week will be better.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Granimore said...

I know all of those incidents, in and of themselves, are petty. But taken together in the space of just a couple of hours, it got to me. I think he's just stressed because his wedding is Saturday. I'll be glad when it's over and he's on his honeymoon. Maybe when he returns he'll be a little bit more even-handed.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Coral said...

Well, the bed time story reading bit did me in! Tears at work!

I am sorry you had a bad day, just put it down to people's ignorance - my best way to get over dumb asses.

have a great day today!

1:25 AM  
Blogger Granimore said...

Thanks, Coral. I'm over it by now. And it was very hard listening to the parents read the stories. On my way home from work I stopped at the bookstore and bought "Love You Forever" for my mother for her Mother's Day present.

5:47 PM  

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