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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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Better Left Unsaid

I came into work Wednesday morning, and found out we had a call overnight. My boss informs me that we have pre-need, and since there are no services called for, and it is to be a direct cremation, I will be meeting with the family. Then he proceeds to tell me, "if they do want anything, don't schedule it for tomorrow."

Talk about things that really didn't need to be said...

Friday, November 20, 2009

First Week At The New Location

I just completed my first week at the new location. So far it hasn't been so bad. I've typed up a few at-need files, arranged for services at the National Cemetery, and spent most of the week going through old files and purging them of excess paperwork, as well as making sure they are entered into the at-need database.

Purging files may sound like busy-work, but it really isn't. Say that you have a filing cabinet full of files. For arguments sake let's say 250 files per drawer, and they are packed in tightly. If you remove 2 pieces of paper from each file, that adds up to 500 pieces, which is the size of a ream, about 2 inches thick. Multiply that by 25 years worth of files, that's a lot of paper and a lot of extra room you just freed up. And I'm not just removing one or two pieces of paper per file; I'm averaging between 5 and 10 sheets of paper per file.

I also got to work the crematory a little bit today. On the last cremation of the day, about an hour into the process, we opened up the door to the retort and I stirred the bones around. About 30 minutes after that, we opened the door again and I pushed the cremated remains to the back of the retort, then went to the access hatch and pulled them out. I also processed and packaged the previous set of cremated remains. It's hot, messy work and I'm glad I don't have to do it every day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Some Days I Just Want To Smack Him

I started working at our new location yesterday. I spent the day going through the files for October and November, making sure all the paperwork was in order. There were several files that did not have the Social Security forms filled out and faxed, so I took care of those. Today, I was working and some people came in. They lost someone, and wanted cremation. I called "home office" and was told to sit down with them and start getting the information for the death certificate. My boss would be over shortly to take over if the services were to be more detailed. It wound up being simple cremation, which I handled. They picked an urn, paid for everything, and left. I'm in the office typing up the death certificate and permits, and my boss notices that I did not post payment on the back of the contract. I did, however, for the benefit of the family, note on the front of the contract that everything was paid in full, by whom, and the check number. I tell my boss I will get to it. He kept harping on the fact that I hadn't posted it yet, and I kept telling him I would. He kept on, and finally I snapped. I said, "I'm going to do it, give me a chance to get to it! And you're a fine one to talk. You don't post them on your contracts, either!" He looked at me with a perfectly straight face, and says, "No, {secretary} does it." Unbelievable.

Later, he met with a family who had called in. Afterward, he gives me the paperwork to complete while he gets ready to go to the hospital to get the body. He changes his mind and has me go, because the family will be back with payment shortly. I get up, indicate the typewriter and the file, and say, "ok, there's the death certificate and the permit to finish." He tells me, "I don't do those." I asked him about funeral directors completing their own files, and he proceeds to brag about how he "landed" the call and got them to use us, as if that was the extent of his responsibility. Some days I just want to smack him.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

It's Time

Starting tomorrow, I will be working at the new location, as I discussed in this post. My boss will be stopping by every morning to check in. One "perk" I had been enjoying at our original location was less face time with my boss. I get along with him ok, and we can work together when we have to; it's just that I find everything goes so much smoother when he's not around. So tomorrow is my first day at the other place. I will be answering phones, handling paperwork, and various other clerical and administrative tasks, plus, I'm sure, the occasional janitorial duties. One problem the owner has with the staff at the new place is that no one seems to know how to clean.

Edit 7:24pm EST: I just got a call from my boss; I don't have to go tomorrow. The owner will let me know when it's time.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Final Score

My total number of calls for time on call was 7, which is a record. Sunday, my last day on call, I was awakened early in the morning with two calls. I was instructed to go to the nursing home first, as the family was still there, then go to the hospital. I made the first removal, brought the body back to the funeral home, then headed to the hospital. I got to the hospital, got my paperwork from admitting, then waited for security to come to the morgue so I could get the body. Some young security punk lets me in, I tell him who I'm there for, and he nods his head in the direction of the cooler, and says, "drawer 6." Then he just stands there, leaning against the counter. Drawer 6 was closest to the floor, so I position my stretcher, lower it all the way down, then open the drawer and, with some difficulty, pull the tray out. I can immediately see why I had such a hard time. The person on the tray was about 300-350 pounds. So I start thinking, "ok, he's gonna see how big this person is, surely he's gonna give me some help." Nope, not one lick. I manage, with some struggling, to move the body from the tray to the stretcher, then raise the stretcher back up to full height. I then slid the tray back in, then told him, "Thanks for all your help" then left. I don't think he caught the sarcasm in my voice, because he answered me with a sincere, "you're welcome."