…and a hard place.
The Wizard of Id cartoon series made several references to funerals over the years. This cartoon illustrates an important point.
Some time ago…..twenty years or so, I answered the funeral home phone and it was a woman calling us to request our services for her mother who had died. I started to say “I am sorry for your loss”, but was cut off abruptly with, “You are not sorry…you didn’t know my mother and you are happy you are getting the business”
I then altered my words to “There is nothing I can say that will change what has happened or make you feel any better. I will however, use all my skill and experience to help you through this” ( or some variation of this , based on how the conversation started.
Every once in awhile, I (we) get called out for not stating, “I am sorry for your loss”
It is the perfect example of how dynamic our work is and what a wide range of expectations were are required to fulfill.
It is not uncommon to sit down with several family members who are not necessarily bonding together and who may actually dislike each other. Each thinks that they should be in charge and that all present should capitulate to them. The trick is to balance the emotions and needs of each and get everyone to agree on a course of action. Did I say “balance the emotions”?.
As good as we are and try as we might, every once in a while, when we send out our service questionnaires to family members, we will get one stating that we are the best funeral home in the world from one family member and another will comment that we are morons and have no business being “in the business”.
The death of a family member usually brings out the best in people and petty squabbles are set aside for awhile. Unfortunately, now and then, we see the death of a family member becoming an accelerant for discord and even sometimes violence.
Someday, I will write my book. It will be called: “There is Only One Family Named The Waltons…The musings of a simple, village undertaker”…and the first chapter will be about my family…because there was only one family called “The Waltons”
The key for us is to always treat each of our clients as if they were part of our family and then to realize that you just cannot please everyone all the time. Often, it is the stress of the death that changes normally easy going people into challenging customers, but as we all know…there are folks who do not need an excuse.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try and how much you help, it just is not enough in some people’s eyes.
That is something I have never really gotten used to…and probably never will.
Good night, John Boy.