Have you ever been shopping somewhere and suddenly realized that the sales clerk was manipulating you? Imagine a 28-year-old woman, who has recently been rejected by her fiancé for a younger woman. She enters a cosmetic store for a lipstick and leaves with a bag containing a $2,400.00 two ounce bottle of cream designed to rejuvenate her skin back to wrinkle and age spot freedom. I am sure a 28-year-old woman does not have any wrinkles or age spots to speak of, but in such a vulnerable state, she might trust someone whom she thinks has greater knowledge about her needs. How do you think that sales clerk knew just how to sell her that ridicules bottle of cream?
My husband tells me it is body language, and interrogation, disguised as empathy. The 28-year-old woman probably told the sales clerk about her recent heartbreak, and the sales clerk, needing to make sales goals, used that information to her advantage. It is all hypothetical, but if you've ever left a store and wondered how you ended up with the things in your bag, you understand my point.
Recently I assisted a client who had lost a loved one. My client had contacted a different funeral home and rather than cremating his loved one as requested, he was being forced into a burial. My client contacted me and asked that I take over his case. I immediately contacted the funeral home housing his loved one for their charges, and informed them I would be the funeral director providing his requested services.
That was the moment I realized my client had been unfairly treated and that now, as his advocate, I was going to have to assert myself on his behalf. Not only was he being forced into a burial, he was being charged for unnecessary services for which he did not ask. It also appeared that this first funeral home had consorted with another funeral home in town to block his wishes. These two very powerful funeral homes made it impossible to carry out my clients wishes, and I was forced to remove my client’s loved one across the nearby state line. Nevertheless, my client’s wishes were fulfilled; his loved one was cremated and inurned in a timely, dignified and appropriate manner.
My client's experience raises the question, what does one do when one has been blatantly mistreated or manipulated by a funeral practitioner?
My client did as he should have; he removed himself and his loved one from the manipulating funeral home and sought one willing to accomplish his legal wishes. The unbelievable stress and anguish my client suffered at the hands of this funeral home is unforgivable. I believe it will prolong and complicate his grief recovery experience for many years.
Upon the accomplishment of my client’s wishes, he asked me what he should do to ensure that others do not suffer, as did he. I told him that he did the best thing when he switched funeral homes. That action should have stopped the abuse. Unfortunately, the first funeral home was vindictive and interfered in every step of the process possible. In this situation, my client behaved reasonably and contacted his attorney. Again, his actions were appropriate. My client wanted to run an article in the local newspaper, naming the funeral homes that obstructed his wishes and exposing their activities. I suggested he consult with his attorney first. Revenge was not his goal, protecting others from such misery was what he wanted to accomplish.
My final suggestion to him was to register a complaint with the state’s Funeral Service Commission. Such a charge would open a review of the actions of the funeral homes involved, and cause the obstructive funeral homes to evaluate their motivations and adjust their actions in the future.
As a funeral director, I believe that most funeral directors are sincere and decent people. I do not know why these funeral homes found it necessary to behave badly. My client was a polite, well-mannered man who had lost someone very dear to him. All he asked was help and understanding to accomplish a dignified service for his decedent. I believe he deserved that. I believe everyone deserves that.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.