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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Sunday, January 24, 2010

What A Weekend

This has been one of the longest weekends I've worked in a while. Saturday we had a funeral in a city about 2 hours away. The owner and I worked that service, while Returning Employee stayed behind with my boss to set up for an afternoon visitation. I got back from the funeral just in time to work about 90% of that funeral. The schedule was for visitation from 3-6pm, with services at 6. When I returned my boss had left me a note saying the family was going to stay after services for however long they felt like. That turned out to be about an hour. I didn't get home until 8pm. Saturday was 12 hours long; but wait, there's more! At 12:30am (technically Sunday morning) I get called out. I had arrived at the funeral home and was walking across the parking lot when my phone rang. We had a second call. I made both of those and got home about 2am. I was awakened at 8am by my boss calling; we had two more calls. One was a house call, the other at a hospital. I made the house call, dropped the body off at the crematory, then went to the hospital. When I returned to the funeral home, we had to embalm one of my calls from midnight, prepare for a viewing/visitation tomorrow morning, a cot view that took place this afternoon, and another viewing/visitation today from 3-6pm with services at 6. Sunday was 10 hours long. I hope I'm done; I'm still on call until 8am tomorrow. The good news in all of this is I've got 11 hours of overtime, plus 7 removals, which we get paid extra for. My paycheck this week will be sweet!

Edit: I got another call at 2a.m.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Doctor Frustration And Vindication

Yesterday was a heck of a day, and I came home feeling very down. We had received a call "second hand." By that, I mean we were not the ones initially to get the call to pick up the deceased. The person died in a hospital, and the organ donation people came for the body. While they had it, the family contacted us for services. We met with the family and made arrangements to receive the body, but we got very little in the way of paperwork. For the doctor of record, all we had was one name. I wasn't sure if it was a first name or last name, and there was no phone number. I called the organ people, who were able to give me a last name, but no phone number. After much research on the internet, I found a likely match, including a phone number. I called that office and confirmed that the doctor had seen the patient, but the staff would not verify that the doctor would sign. We delivered the death certificate anyway, hoping to get an answer in the meantime.

It turns out the doctor had only seen the patient once, while he was covering for the primary physician. So he was not going to sign the death certificate. I was able to get a name and phone number for the doctor we were told was the primary. I called that office and gave them the information, but they never called back. So after about 3 hours, I called them, and was told they had no record of the patient at all. I called the hospital where the patient died, hoping to get another doctor, but there weren't any listed on the patients charts. In the meantime, my boss is getting frustrated with me because I wasn't getting anywhere. At one point he's standing there watching me on the phone, and he says, "we may have to call the family and get the name of her doctor." I picked up the file and handed it to him, and said, "you can call while I'm on hold for the organ people." He just looked at me like I was crazy and did absolutely nothing. After getting nowhere, and with the day winding down, I called the spouse of the deceased and left a message to call us back. I then called my boss and told him what I had done. He proceeds to tell me I should not have done that, despite his suggestion a few hours earlier of doing that very same thing. He then asks me for the phone number of one of the offspring. He calls and finds out the name of yet another doctor.

I came home feeling very down because of his criticism, and because he seemed to get the results in just a few minutes while I had gotten nowhere all afternoon. This morning he came in and started working on confirming the doctor, only to start running into the same obstacles I had. The doctor he had was not the right one, the hospital was of no help, etc. I felt vindicated and much relieved that he was having the same amount, if not more trouble today than I had yesterday. To top it off, as of close of business, he still had not resolved the issue.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cast Of Characters

It occurred to me that anyone stumbling across this blog might be confused by the way I address some of my colleagues. To clear up any confusion, here is the cast of characters I work with.

The owner-owner of the funeral home and my boss's boss.
My boss-partner of the owner and my immediate superior.
Takes A Day Off-one of our attendants, errand runner, and on-call guy. Given this nickname by me on this blog for his tendency to take as much time off whenever possible. For instance, only two and a half-weeks into the New Year and he's taken four sick days.
Returning Employee-previous employee who had left before I started working and came back about six months after I was hired. He's one of our embalmers and has taught me a lot in the prep room. We work pretty well together.
Secretary-no explanation needed, and I don't talk about this person much. We work very well together and I learned most of the paperwork and procedures by from this person.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Book Of Eli

I saw it today on my day off. The movie was awesome. I highly recommend it, and I would love to see it again, hopefully with my family.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon

I woke up in the middle of the night last night to use the bathroom. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I laid in bed playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. For anyone not familiar with the game, you think of a famous person and within six steps try and connect them in some way to Kevin Bacon. For example, Robin Williams.
Robin Williams was in "The World According to Garp" with John Lithgow.
John Lithgow was in "Footloose" with Kevin Bacon.

Some connections may be more elaborate. The challenge I chose for myself was Andre the Giant. At 3am, my brain wasn't working too well, so I did not get an answer before I fell asleep. However, I did come up with one this morning.
To see my solution, click on the comments link.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Unusual Day

Today was not what I expected. Yesterday morning my boss told me Takes A Day Off would be back to work today. This morning I found out Takes A Day Off will be back at work on Friday, which is my day off. Regardless of what happens, I will take my day off. I've been reassured that Takes A Day will be covering this weekend like he's supposed to. Anyhow, today we had a service followed by burial at the National Cemetery. It was decided I would work that service with another director from our new acquisition. Turns out the other director was in dire need of death certificates which had not arrived yet, so he is need of someone to run down to the next county and pick them up. It was decided he would go to the National Cemetery alone while I ran the other errand. However, I was stuck at the new acquisition with no vehicle. Someone from our original location was going to come get me, but an hour after the director left, I'm still waiting. In the meantime, right after the procession left for the cemetery, someone comes in to pick up cremated remains. Not 1 minute after they walk in, we get a walk-in at need Medical Examiner call. The family wants viewing and visitation for tomorrow, with a service in the evening. I called my boss and told him I had a walk in, so he comes over in time to finish up. I had started taking information for the death certificate, and about the time we get to services and pricing, my boss arrived and closed the deal. Immediately afterward, we return to the original funeral home, where I take the errand car to pick up the death certificates, and he takes the van to go to the Medical Examiner's office and get the body. He returned around 4pm and together we embalmed the body. Tomorrow morning Returning Employee and I must suture the body, bathe, dress and casket him, then go to the airport for our ship in funeral. I will be in the hearse and he will have the limo. When I return from that I'm supposed to work the evening visitation, I think. We'll see what the owner wants done.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Bohica is an acronym we used in the Navy. It stands for "Bend Over, Here It Comes Again," meaning one was about to receive a royal screwing. We would sometimes refer to it as "Screwed and Not Even Kissed," except being sailors we weren't so concerned with our language.

The point of all this is that Takes A Day Off called in sick today, and now it's even doubtful if he will be able to fulfill his on-call duties this coming weekend. Since my boss is going out of town this weekend, someone will have to cover those duties. 99% of the time, it falls to me. I am seriously considering putting my foot down over this. Takes A Day Off has a history of bailing out on his weekends when my boss is out of town. I should bring this to the attention of the owner and see what his thoughts are. I've repeatedly worked on my weekends off and been asked to come in on my days off, while others can take time off whenever they want to. I've about had it.

In addition to the weekend, we have two services on Wednesday, one of which involves the limo and picking up the family and the casket at the airport. Returning Employee is supposed to be off on that day, but if Takes A Day Off is out for the count, I think someone besides me will be screwed out of their day off.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Busy Start To The New Year

The business just keeps on coming. We closed out December with about 28 calls or so; right now in the New Year we're around 7 or 8. Almost a call a day for the past two months. We had a funeral every day last week, but as of last Friday our calls have all been simple cremations; no services or ceremonies. We did have an interesting visitation last week. The family was having a Mass, but during the visitation they asked us to turn on the microphone and turn down the music. Various friends and family got up to speak, and when they were done we turned the music back on. A few minutes later more people got up to speak, so we turned the music down. After they were done {again} we left the music off because it was almost time to leave for church. The family came up and asked us to turn the music back up, which we did. No sooner had we done that than someone else got up to speak. However, we got through it, got ready for church and all was well.