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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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Still Working Out The Logistics

Things have been up in the air since we acquired the new funeral home. We're still hammering out the logistics of embalming, visitation, errands, and the like. Right now everything, with a couple of exceptions, are being handled at the primary location. The only exceptions are the death certificates and other paperwork of the calls at the new location are still being generated there, and the original owner is still meeting with families. Also, they still host their own visitations, but we staff them. Other than that, we handle all the embalming, errand running, memorial packages, etc.

Of course, this can be quite trying at times, especially when the paperwork from the new location is not quite up to snuff. For example, last week I made a removal and took the body to the cooler at the new location. I found a death certificate at the log-in desk with a note to have it filed and wait for the copies to be made, then return them to the new location. Well, when I got back to the original location, I looked the death certificate over to make sure it was in order. I found three things that should have been taken care of before I ever got it. Item one was a typo, which I had pointed out to my boss before I even took it to the doctor for signing. The next two items were the names of the deceased's parents. No first name for the father, no name at all for the mother. After fixing the typo, I called the new location and got the information and filled it in.

I filed it and waited for the copies. When I gave them to my boss, I pointed out that it was not ready for filing, that I had to fix those mistakes. His attitude was, "don't look at me, I didn't type it." I pointed out that he could have proofed it. His response was that he had other things to do. I told him that I did, too. He then asked me what they were, and I told him. He then informed me that the death certificate was more important than the tasks I was working on. I couldn't help but think that if it was so important, why didn't he give it the attention it deserved?

Another similiar incident happened today. Our errand guy also had one of their certificates that he was ordered to wait on. When he went to file it, it was rejected because the doctor had used White Out on the Cause of Death section, which is a violation of the requirements of the Vital Statistics office. (Certain items on a death certificate cannot, in any way, be altered or tampered with). So we had to generate a new certificate and take it back to the doctor. Had the certificate been checked upon it's return to the new location, steps could already have been taken to correct the situation.

I also had a run in with my boss yesterday. He does not know how to handle his subordinates. I chalk it up to youth and inexperience in supervising employees. (He's about 30, and has only worked one other job in his life). If I ask a question that he thinks is stupid, or that I should know better, he'll smart off with some wise-ass remark. For example, we had what I was told was a Greek family that came in off the street with a death in the family. Greeks bury their dead about 99.9% of the time, which is ironic considering ancient Greeks, for all intents and purposes, invented cremation. Anyhow, I was in the prep room working on an embalming, when I hear the doorbell ring, which I took to mean the Greek family had left. A few moments later my boss comes in, talking on his cell phone about a direct cremation call. So I assumed (mistake on my part) he was talking about the Greeks. He then went into the kitchen area and started posting this call on the board. I walked in behind him and asked, "So the Greeks went with direct cremation?" He snapped, "Does it look like I'm writing that on the board?" I told him I didn't appreciate being talked to like that, that a simple yes or no would have been sufficient. He starts fussing at me, "I don't know where you got the idea this was the same call? I don't want you getting your facts mixed up and passing out the wrong information." So I explained why I thought the Greek call was cremation, and pointed out to him, again, that he didn't have to talk to me like that; that all I wanted was a little respect.

I did turn the tables on him a few weeks ago, though. I made a removal and was instructed to contact the family, then call him when I had done that. I tried calling the family, but there was no answer, only a machine. A short while later, he calls and asks if I had made contact. I told him I got the machine, but would try in a little while. He told me to call him as soon as I made contact and let him know what was going on. I repeated back to him, "As soon as I make contact, I will call you." I tried to reach the family again, and got the machine again. This time I left a message. A short time later my boss calls. "Have you made contact yet?" Rather testily, I snapped back, "Have I called you yet?" It was the best part of my day.

All I can say is that one good thing to come out of this acquisition is the fact that my boss spends most of his time at the new location, which keeps him out of my hair.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday Morning Surprise

Our secretary will be going on vacation next week. If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know that when she's gone I'm the secretary, so to speak. Well, Monday is my day off, but guess who has to work it again? To offset that bit of bad news, I took off Friday after lunch. I knew when I left we had a body in the prep room, and that there would be a visitation. I just didn't know when. This morning I check in on the body and was surprised to see that no one had done anything since the embalming was accomplished. Cavity treatment, closing the incision, bathing...nothing had been done. Then I see in the obits the visitation is tomorrow. So I immediately started doing what I could. I removed all the medical tubes still inserted, glue the incision shut, wash the hair, bath the body, pack her (stuff cotton in the leaking orifice until it no longer leaks), and even put polish on her fingernails. The owner came over around lunch with the clothing, and we got her dressed, casketed and cosmetized. Tomorrow morning I'll take her over to the other location (the funeral home we recently acquired) and get ready for the visitation. The service is Monday morning, followed by burial at the National Cemetery. There is a limo, but since I'm acting secretary, I'll be exempt from working this funeral.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dressed, Casketed and Cosmetized

Friday we had a body to get ready for viewing this weekend. We had to dress the body, place it in the casket, then do the makeup and hair. Returning Employee usually takes care of the makeup, but he never showed up. Apparently he was working at the new funeral home. So I got the body dressed, me and Takes A Day Off put it in the casket, then I got right to work cosmetizing. I applied a red-tinted liquid called "splash" to the hands and face, then I applied the lipstick, touched up the eyelashes and eyebrows, then finally I cosmetically covered up some bruised spots on the hands and forearm.

My boss arrived a couple of hours after all this was done, with the intention of doing it himself. Needless to say, he was very surprised it had already been done, and even more surprised, I think, that it was done as well as it was. He made one minor correction, then pronounced the job as well done. From there, our secretary did the hair, and now everything is ready.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ready For The Weekend

The owner has been on vacation this week, so my boss has spending most of his time at the new funeral home, while I've been covering the original location. I had a couple walk in the other day, asking about cremation. I just took them into the office and sat down with them and answered their questions. I didn't bother calling my boss, because the last time I had a similar situation, he said, "You're a funeral director. Act like one." So I did, and it worked out well. Hopefully they will come back and preplan and prepay their funerals. I'm off this weekend, and I'm looking forward to it. Last weekend was very busy, with several services on Saturday and a cot view on Sunday. I didn't get a lot of rest then. Hopefully I will this weekend.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Working Without A Net

Thursday, April 2, 2009 was a very interesting day for me. For the last two hours of the day, I was left alone at the funeral home. The one thing I hoped would not happen, of course, happened. We got a death call at 15 minutes before closing. I called the boss and was told to just lock up the building and take care of it. So I did. I went to the house and talked to the family, and set up an appointment for the next morning. Then the family tells me they have a daughter who's still an hour away, could I wait until she gets there? The sheriff's deputy that was on scene (the person was found dead at home) did not want to wait around that long, so she asked me if we could handle that at the funeral home. I agreed, so after taking care of the removal and getting back to the funeral home, I put the body in the chapel, still on the stretcher, and waited for the family.

They came in about 20 minutes later, and they decided they wanted to handle the arrangements right then and there. So after they had a few minutes with their loved one, I took them into the office and we handled the arrangements. It was a direct cremation, but they also had family coming from out of state that would want to see the deceased. So I set up what we call a cot view, where the body is arranged for viewing, but without embalming or the use of a casket. We set up a time and date, and today they showed up for their viewing. It went well, but it was just a little bit on the intimidating side not having any backup at the funeral home when the arrangements were made. All in all, though, it went very well.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Crash And Burn

My computer has been acting up recently, locking up in the middle of anything I happened to be doing. I tried running anti-virus scans, anti-spyware/malware scans, even the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool. All indications were my computer was clean, and yet it kept locking up. Finally, in desperation, I wiped my hard drive and reinstalled Windows.

The worst part of this whole process was that my computer kept locking up even in the middle of the Windows reinstall. Finally, I got into the casing and discovered it was dusty dusty dusty. The intake vents for my power supply were choked with dust, along with the heat sink for my cpu cooling fan. I cleaned everything out and now I'm back online.

Had I bothered to check that first, I could have saved myself several days of frustration.