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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Monday, October 26, 2009

Double Whammy

I'm on call today, and when I got home I was able to relax for about 30 minutes before we got a call. It was about 30 minutes away, and called for embalming. So I made the removal, we did the embalming, and I came home, arriving about 9pm. I was able to relax for about 20 minutes, when I get another call. This one was about 45 minutes away, and also calls for embalming. Thankfully, my boss told me we could do that in the morning. I've been home for about 45 minutes, and I'm wondering if it's safe to go to bed. I brought the company van home, just in case.

Edit: 20 minutes later. No, it was not safe to go to bed. Another call. It's now 2am, and I've been going since 7:30am.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Victory Is Mine

I am pleased to report that the owner approved of my embalming job I did last night. That makes me happy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My First Solo Embalming

In this post I talked about my first attempt at embalming solo, which didn't turn out so well. Tonight I got home, got undressed and was just about to sit down and relax when my phone rings. It's my boss, we have a call, and I'm on duty. It's for our new location, and it's a pretty good ways away. It's in a hospital about an hour away. The other day Takes A Day Off had to make a removal under similar circumstances. He jokingly complained to the former owner of our new location, "don't you get any calls that are close by?" So I called Takes A Day Off and told him about this new call. He couldn't believe it.

Anyway, my boss proceeds to tell me this call will require embalming, but there will be no viewing or visitation. These types of cases are perfect for rookie embalmers to handle, so I was put in charge of the embalming. I made the removal, got the body back to the funeral home, and took care of everything start to finish, solo. I feel pretty good about the results, and I can only hope the owner is satisfied with my work.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Relocation Update And Some Randomness

I had previously mentioned that I was being transferred temporarily to our new funeral home. I was informed today that will not happen for at least another week and a half.
I was to have started this past Monday, but that was my day off. Monday afternoon I get a call from my boss to report to our original location because there was a lot to do. I showed up Tuesday morning and saw that we had a funeral plus visitation. Today (Wednesday) we also had a funeral, so I spent my day at the "home office." At the end of the day, the owner tells me that since this week's already half over, and since the owner will be out of town all next week, to not report to the new location until after he returns. So I have a reprieve, which is awesome.

I ended up working the visitation last night. I was supposed to get an hour off between 4pm and 5pm so I could take a break and get some supper. However, since my boss was out of the office and our secretary had to leave early, I was stuck at work until 4:20, which is when by boss returned. I ran home, heated up a can of Ravioli, ate it and got back by 5 because my boss ordered me to back so he could go home on time. (Not that he cares about me getting my breaks "on time"). I return to find that not one thing had been done in my absence. All of the trash cans from the afternoon visitation session were still full, including the one in the chapel, and the front door glass was covered in fingerprints. I took one look around, then said, "You guys didn't even empty the trash!" Then I got right to work cleaning while they went home. Had they been doing real work in my absence, I might have been more understanding, but they were watching rap videos on YouTube.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

All Empty

All of our services are concluded, we had no new calls as of closing time today, and the crematory has cremated all but two bodies. Tomorrow one of those will be taken care of, and then we'll be cleaning the cooler from top to bottom, inside and out. Of the three and a half years I've been working as a funeral director, I have never seen business so slow. We are about 45 calls behind this same time last year. However, it's not just us. I've been tracking the obituaries and all of the local funeral homes are down. Firms that averaged 30-40 calls a month are running at about 10 calls to date. There was even an article in one of the trade magazines that was discussing the declining death rate for this year. At least the owner is aware that it's not just us.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Today I found out something that really bummed me out. As you may know, the owner purchased another funeral home in March of this year. For the past few months, one of our newer employees has been working there in a role of secretary/administration. She is moving, so today I was informed I will be taking her place at the new location. I don't mind the work involved, it's more that I will be separated from my usual coworkers and my usual routine. For example, every morning I arrive at work early, make coffee, and enjoy a few cups with everyone while we take turns reading various sections of the paper. The new location has no coffeemaker, and does not take the local paper, only the Wall Street Journal, which I have no interest in at all. Also, that location has a minimal staff; the two previous owners, plus my boss stops in every morning before going to the primary location, and now, myself. However, while I am to be working there, one of the previous owners will be working at our primary location to learn how to do things the way we need them done. So for a great deal of the time, it will be myself and one other person, who is in charge of running the crematory.

Still, I can choose to let this bother me, or I can meet it for the challenge that it is. I will be in charge of the phones, paperwork, death certificates, accounting (with some assistance from "home office") and various other miscellaneous tasks. Another factor to consider is that all death calls are handled through our main location, so instead of being sent out on a call, I will be the one doing the sending. I think mostly, though, I will miss the companionship of my coworkers. This situation is not permanent, but it does appear that it may last into the New Year. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Boss Got Chewed Out

My boss got chewed out by the owner today. My boss had me ship an urn last week, giving me no special instructions at all. So I sent it in the usual manner, 1st class, return receipt requested. It went out on the 1st of October, and so far it has not arrived, and the family is having a ceremony sometime in the next day or two. So we've been getting calls every day from the receiving funeral home, and today the owner overhears one of these calls, so he starts asking my boss about it. My boss says we sent the urn 2 or 3 day express, and I speak up and tell him I did not do that, and my boss tries to turn the blame back on me by saying that I should have sent it "the way we usually send them." Well, I did send it in the usual manner, and the owner starts chewing my boss out about how he should have given specific instructions, especially if time was a factor. The chewing lasted about 20 minutes, and I left about 5 minutes into it. I'll have to keep my head down and try to stay out of my boss's way until he's over being pissed at me (which I'm sure he is.)