Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Fire an Obstructive Funeral Practitioner

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.
Please follow my blog at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com. follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Pre-planning Auntie

As I sat last week with my daughter in the hospital, she received visitors wishing her a speedy recovery. One of her visitors was a medically retired woman with questions and concerns regarding her unavoidable future death. Her questions revolved around her particular medical issues and the way in which they would be addressed during the preparation of her body. Her religion requires that she be dressed by members of her faith, and she wanted assurances that she would be able to have this done with as little inconvenience as possible to her friends and family.
After discussing the subject to her satisfaction, our topic changed to the type of services and choices she would prefer for her funeral arrangements.  I was surprised when I asked her who her pre-need was with, that she did not have one. I asked her why after all of the thought and planning she had so obviously invested into her preferences, had she not prearranged for their execution on her behalf.  This woman is in the unique situation of being rather young, yet rather ill. Fortunately, she was greatly appreciated and loved by the company she worked for, and out of concern for her, this company paid off her home, offered her a funded retirement and tacked on wonderful insurance coverage so that she could live out the remainder of her life in comfort without concern for her financial needs. 
She is also a single woman, she has never married and hasn’t any children. Her plan in life is to leave her sizable estate to her nieces and nephews. She stated that in exchange for her estate, they would have to take on the task of planning her funeral and burying her. I was surprised at her plan and asked if she loved her nieces and nephews any at all. She was taken back by my question and asked me to explain myself.
I was glad to accommodate her request and asked her why she would place these children, whom she claimed to love so deeply, in familial turmoil and financial ruin. She insisted that she would never do such a thing and that indeed; she was setting them up quite well financially. I asked her where she expected them to acquire the money for her services. She replied that they would come from her estate, of course. I pointed out to her that those funds would be tied up in her estate for quite some time; hard assets are not liquid assets. She argued that she had money in her bank accounts and that they could draw those funds out to pay for her services. I explained that those accounts would be frozen immediately upon her death until the courts released them according to the instructions in her will and predicated upon the procurement of a death certificate.
It had not occurred to her until our conversation that she was putting her nieces and nephews in such an undesirable predicament. Additionally, I explained to her that her nieces and nephews would be confused at a very stressful and sad time in their lives. Her niece might think that her aunt would want an expensive casket while another might think that she would have wanted a moderately priced casket with a vault instead. Then again, a nephew might think she wanted to be cremated and sprinkled out over the Cote d’Azur. Now let’s add to this, the fact that they each have to personally produce the funds to pay for her services. Also, by the time she passes, some of these nieces and nephews might be married with children. Now we have a potential family nightmare happening. Complicating this situation, these nieces and nephews might have to produce funds on her behalf while anticipating inheriting a substantial amount of funds from her estate. Do they spend the funds on her death, or do they conserve the funds so that once they inherit them, they have a nice little chunk of funds for their family? What were her intentions in leaving these funds behind? Some of her nieces and nephews may think they should spend their aunt’s money on her, while others may think she wanted them to have the funds to make their lives easier. The fact is that there will be unnecessary disagreements and stresses placed on her nieces and nephews because she failed to pre-arrange. By the time we had finished our conversation; my daughter’s friend had a new appreciation for pre-arranging her funeral needs.
 My business needed my attention, so I left my daughter in the hospital under the loving care of my sister. I traveled back up to northeast Texas and returned yesterday to Houston to check on my daughter’s recovery. As chance would have it, I met my daughter’s friend once again. I asked her how she was, and she informed me that she was more comfortable with her end of life arrangements. She had taken our conversation to heart and had pre-arranged her funeral needs with a local funeral home. She is now comfortable knowing that her nieces and nephews will not have to experience the tragic burden of second guessing themselves and arguing over her final rites. She has selected her services and pre-funded them. She knows that her beloved nieces and nephews will experience her death with the best chance possible for an uncomplicated grief recovery. With this simple act of pre-planning, she has taken away unnecessary stresses and financial difficulties from them. She has given them a great gift; she has made life’s saddest experience a little more bearable for those she loves.
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.
Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Texting Kills

Funeral Directors are strong people. They work day after day with families in crisis, blocking the emotional and psychological impact of these crisis' from affecting their own struggles in life. Every once in a while, however, a particular family will reach into the depths of your soul and rip your heart in two.
I served a family today, that broke through that barrier. As I entered the cemetery, I was surprised at a cluster of children's graves. I saw the decedent's grandmother walk up to the cluster and drop to her knees. Surrounded by these tiny graves, she reached out and tenderly touched each one as she bellowed sobs of despair.
I was burying her grandson today. He was her fifth grandchild being buried within this cluster of tiny graves.
As the Pastor offered words of comfort, tears streamed down my face. I could not quell the anguish within my heart for this suffering grandmother and her family. Each of her grandchildren died from SIDS or cancer except for her grandson being buried today. This grandson was a little older than the others. He was old enough to drive, and while driving, decided to text. This sole decision prematurely robbed him, his parents and his grandmother of his life, his future and their happiness. Even worse, his accident caused the death of the man in the car he hit.
I don't know how this grandmother will ever recover from burying five grandchildren in one year. I don't know how anyone recovers from so much loss. My prayers plead for her comfort and recovery.
As I directed this tragic funeral today, I inwardly contemplated, "Is there any text so important that you would trade your life for it?" I could not think of one. Texts are more of a convenient method of communication rather than a necessary one. Please consider the consequences and never text while driving. Although you may decide there is a text worth trading your life for, you are putting other innocent drivers at risk who may not be ready to die for your text message.
Funeral Directors are strong people. Every once in awhile however, a particular tragedy reaches into the depth of your soul and rips your heart in two. Today was such a day for me.
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.
Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Reaction


The death of a loved one is an experience unto its own. It is impossible to gauge how individuals within the family circle will react to their new reality of life without the decedent by their side. One might witness age-old rivalries, control struggles, jealousies or even aloofness surface between those within this intimate experience. Siblings may pit against each other, rather than draw upon each other’s strengths, to overcome the wretched pain and sadness brought on by death.
As a funeral director, I see families who come together and console each other through, what is essentially; the worst experience life has to offer. I also see families who rip apart any semblance of love or support based on past disappointments or unsettled issues. Why is it then, that some families have a successful and supportive loss experience while others do not?
Many factors influence the behavior of families and individuals as they travel funeral week and the grief experience that follows. Generally, religion plays the major influence on behavior and perception; but, life’s experience, as a whole, plays almost the same role. If an individual has not had a religious upbringing, one cannot expect him or her to react according to theological instructions. This individual will react according to his or her experiences in loss. If this is their first human loss, the experience may indeed be very overwhelming and near impossible to find meaning. If you add to this, past struggles within the family circle, believers, and non-believers alike may become lost within the difficult recovery process.
My best observations over the past few years have been, that when a family has suffered the loss of a loved one, all within the intimate family circle should put aside all ill will, ill feelings and ill experiences; and come together to offer love and support for all involved. If a family can successfully accomplish this, they will begin their grief experience and travel through a healthier recovery. They might even realize that healing and happiness come through forgiveness and that hate and discontent spawn darkness and hamper recovery.
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.
Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.