Friday, September 29, 2006


So, now I have audited EVERY pre-need file we have to make sure there are no others with missing funds. Luckily only one is questionable and I'll look into it next week. It took all week to go thru each file and compare it against printouts from the insurance companies that show funding. I now have about two more weeks worth of work to sort through all the "information only" files. People just come in and tell you what they want, but don't pre-pay and don't actually sign a contract to come here. So half or more of them could be dead for all I know and we're just hanging on to a useless file. I made a pile of all those files and will deal with them sometime.
Right now it's Friday and I am going home! It's the homecoming game, so I'm going to watch my daughter cheer (who cares about the football game in the background.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006


The funeral director pocketed the money. I can't believe it.
I talked to someone who used to work here. The FD was fired as soon as he was caught. Started out as a good guy, ended up pocketing cash. They didn't really know how many times he'd done it. We honored the payment since the family found the receipt. Schewan and I had decided to pay for the cremation out of our pockets if the owner wouldn't make good on it. Technically he doesn't have to, since it all happened prior to him purchasing the funeral home, but it's the right thing to do.
Finally got all the signatures and the Dad went to the crematory yesterday. He was beginning to smell. Schewan failed to remove his pace maker until just before he left. Pee-you! (sp?) The oldest son was holding out, just to be a putz, not because he truly cared about the dad. The entire situation with this family is sad. One good thing of it, is that two of the daughters have begun speaking again after years of not getting along. That part is neat.

I'm just shocked that the FD took the money. I guess he'd found a really old receipt book and had begun using it when people paid cash. I do not understand how someone could do that. It's death we're talking about, he's not selling used cars. You only get one shot at doing death right and if someone planned ahead to take care of their family, how horrible is it that they'd be taken advantage of? I believe that he was prosecuted, but any punishment does little to make it right.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Words that canNOT be on my death certificate:
Marital Status: Divorced
Date of Death: Found xx/xx/xxxx
Informant: County Medical Examiner or any Nursing Home name
Cause of Death: Any form of Suicide
Autopsy: Yes (it's a yes/no question)
Usual Occupation: Eng Tech
Usual Industry: Semiconductor

Foods that are off my menu:
Well-ripe plums or nectarines
Cottage cheese
Sometimes, orange juice
Sometimes, all food, but luckily that doesn't last long

Stupid things I've said:
"Here's another group to add to your party." - when sending some late arriving family members into the arrangement room to complete selections for burying their father.

Colors of ash I've seen:
Normal gray
Black, very black
Lime green
Smoky yellow

Least favorite services:
Children of any age

Most favorite services:
Old parents, especially when the "children" are themselves 60-70 and they fight amongst themselves. The dynamics are awesome to watch. Plus I like telling them to behave.
I'm tired. I'm hungry and I don't particularly want to be here today. Steve and I talked over the weekend about me getting a funeral director license. I still don't know how i feel about it. I don't want to do it, because sometimes it's just too weird. I do want to do it because it'd make my job so much easier. I wouldn't have to always wait to have a FD present to continue with what needs to be done. But I don't want to go on first calls (removing deceased from home, hospital, morgue, etc) and I don't like touching the deceased. It feels weird and it still freaks me out some. Although hair and makeup aren't bad, mostly it's the moving them from table to cot to fridge or wherever. I haven't helped casket anyone and I dont' think I want to. I wouldn't get an embalmer's license, that's completely out of the question. But what i'm frustrated with is that mortuary schools require embalming. You can't take any of the classes without taking the whole program. I've had enough today and I want to go home.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Families are stupid.

So i start off the day in a hazy place where i'm uncertain what the heck i'm doing here and I end in a place where I'm positive it's not for me. I wanted to deal with the public??? I chose to deal with idiots? hmmm.

1. Mom died in 1999. I know she went thru my funeral home, because ever since I started working here I've been trying to find her file. I came across her death certificate. Have looked EVERYWHERE and can't find her file. Unprofessional? Yes. Unusual? I'm finding that it's not. There was NO filing system for the past 100 years, why do I think i needed to start now? grr.
2. Dad died yesterday. Normally when second spouse dies, we look at first spouse's file and set everything up the same way. Hey, where's that dang file?
3. Dad's pre-need file says put Dad's ahes with Mom's. Who has mom's ashes?
4. let's see, Dad got a new friend sometime after mom died. (he's 89, why does he need a new "friend:?)
5. Dad, NF (new friend) and D1 (Daughter 1) pre-arrange for Dad's cremation in 2003. They pay cash.
6. Dad and NF move and subsequently misplace all receipts and other documentation regarding pre-need.
7. Noelle calls pre-need insurance company for death benefit amount. They say there's no record of Dad or Mom having ever been in their system.
8. NF and her Child come in to bring Dad's clothes. I ask her if she has any of the records. She tells me again, they're lost. I tell her it's a problem. She starts to cry. She's got to be close to 90 herself. I feel like the big bad wolf.
9. D2 comes in to sign the cremation authorization. Oh, let me back up. Dad didn't sign his own authorization. His wife is dead, so all adult children have to sign. There's nine of them. She signs. I don't mention the money thing.
10. Son 1 lives in another state. Has been estranged for fifteen years. I call him. He doesn't believe his dad wanted to be cremated, he's not going to sign. Fifteen minutes later, he says he'll go to the bank, I can fax the form, sign, notarize, fax back. All good. Well, except he never goes to the bank.
11. D1 comes in to sign. I gather statistical info for the Death Certificate. She signs the authorization. Then I tell her there's no pre-pay record. She takes it well. She says she'll look in her records. I say NF is looking for it too. She goes away happy.
12. NF's Child 2 calls threatening lawsuit. who stole the money? Why did I make her mother so upset? Yadda ya. (Remember that she's not even related to Dad as far as I can tell). Fifteen more minutes consoling another person. I tell her to find the records and shut up (well a little nicer than that).
13. D3's boyfriend (what?) calls to ask what kind of form she has to sign and why don't we have a copy of Dad's will? Did I mention it's my funeral director's day off and i'm the only one in the office today. D3, her boyfriend, and S2 go to the bank. Fax, sign, notarize, fax. Call, call, call. 4/9 signatures obtained.
14. S1's wife calls. Can I prove that cremation is what Dad wanted? Scan in the information, email to her, so she can explain it to S1. Did I also mention that the whole family's combined education level is probably junior high school? Maybe that sounds harsh, but these aren't educated folks.
15. D4 goes to Winco (the Walmart of grocery stores), writes a note that says cremate Dad, I'm not paying for anything, faxes it and leaves the store. I call the store within seconds of receiving the fax, the man I talk to is dumbfounded about what the woman just did. He said he even asked her if she wanted to call me first as there was probably a form she needed to fill out. Anyway, she's gone. I leave a message on her message phone. She never calls back.
16. S1's wife calls back. She got my email. She talked to D4, they want to know who's paying as they've now heard the whole saga and don't want to pay a dime. Of course they don't want to pay, they haven't spoken to dad in fifteen years. I don't bother answering her and instead ask when I can expect the signed authorization form. She's a little short when she hangs up. I don't care.
17. D5 calls for me to fax her and S3 their forms. fax, sign, fax. Call, call, call. 6/9 signatures.
18. Oh, wait S4 died last month, whew. 6/8 signatures. Just waiting on S1 and D4 (who did it wrong).
19. Call the doctor's office for verification she'll sign the death certificate. She's on vacation till next Wednesday. No other doctor will sign.
20. NF and her C1 come back, with C1's dog in a crate. Hey, this isn't a pet cemetery, get that thing out of her. Oh, it's alive. why didn't she leave it in the car? They found the paperwork. I make copies. It's an all around lovefest. I let them know I didn't like C2 calling and threatening me. Highly unnecessary.
21. Call D1 to tell her the receipt has been found.
22. Hmm, receipt found. Payment made, no record at the insurance company, where DID the cash go? Did a greedy funeral director try to take advantage of an uneducated family? Been chatting with my manager throughout the day, he's at the other funeral home and wondering the same thing.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow holds. Where's the missing money? Where's the mom's file? Will Dad's ashes be placed with Mom's? What does NF say about that? Will S1 sign? What will they all say that we can't do anything at all till the doctor comes back? Stay tuned...

Oh, wait. I forgot to mention that just as i walked to the prep room door late this afternoon, Skip said to a (body) transportation guy "Hey, get outta here before you barf on my floor!" He rushes out past me, I see why. I don't know how Skip will repair her, she's inside out.

Archival insanity

i tell you, this inputting of old files into the system is gonna be the death of me. Not only is it tedious, but I can't quit reading about the deceased. Suicides, murders, car accidents, SIDs. I quietly rejoice when i come to an old man who died peacefully at home. Somehow they've been delegated in my mind as plain old deaths and I'm glad for them. First those files make the data entry process continue moving forward, unlike others which slow me down for ten to thirty minutes. And mostly, plain old deaths are how it's "supposed to be".

Yesterday I came across the worst of the worst. Two siblings, children under 12, cause of death for both said "mortally assaulted". No other information. Of course i googled them. Aaay, what the heck did i do that for? Their deaths were almost fifteen years ago, but due to the nature and the huge publicity they garnered, there was no lack of reading material. They were attacked and killed by a child predator, who then went on to kill again, was caught and subsequently executed. All afternoon yesterday, I thought about them, wondered how their families are. Prayed silently for their moms and their dads and for the third child's brother who turned his back for only a few moments and the predator struck. I worry that he took on the responsibility for his sibling's death, when he was only a child himself at the time and could have done nothing to stop it. I'm nauseated all afternoon.
I have nightmares last night. Children killing other children. A lone man stands in the background and supervises. I awake with a start, thinking it's only a dream, then fall back to sleep and restart in the same place I left off. Today I'm edgy and uncertain yet again about this job.

Friday, September 08, 2006

saddest suicide yet

Female, 80 years old, died years ago.

Immediate cause: Mechanical Asphyxia and Carbon Monoxide and Benzodiazepine Intoxication

How injury occurred: Deceased ingested diazepam, inhaled automobile exhaust and placed plastic bag over her head.

Activities/Memberships/Interests: Avid reader, enjoyed gardening and shopping at Nordys. Enjoyed spending her winters in Arizona past 13 years and clamming on the beach.

Survived by: husband, son, daughter, 1 grandchild.

The only clue: Memorials: Parkinsons