Attentive Funeral Home Attendant

5 02 2007

We had a friend over last night for superbowl, and we were talking about family etc.  And he was telling us about his mother passing away (almost 10 years ago)

Since college he has lived in a few places, all in other provinces than Ontario.

He said that this past Christmas after speaking to his dad, they realized that they had not picked up his mothers ashes after the funeral.

After a brief phone call to the funeral home, to which he was told “Yep, uh hun, I’m sure we have that, we don’t normally throw that stuff away” he proceeded down there to pick up the ashes.

He was given a heavy brown cardboard box that was dropped in front of him at the reception desk and a respectful attendant said to him “Bout time you came to get this, she’s been dead quite some time”.  He took the box and went home.

When he got home he opened the box to bring out the urn, but there was no urn. Just dust.

The funeral home didn’t tell him there was no urn, or even offer to sell him one.


Now all he has is a paper box with the last remains of his beloved mother.

How insenstive and borderline cruel is that?

He is currently looking for a decorative box to house the ashes, so he doesn’t have to try to move them from the box to an urn.




4 responses

5 02 2007

That sort of thing might be funny in the movies. In real life, it’s incendiary. Your friend must have been unusually docile to walk out of that funeral home without rhetorically dissecting the attendant.

6 02 2007

I don’t know how he just left it like that. I know I couldn’t. Perhaps he is just a better person than me!

I always thought that at least from what i’ve seen on TV and movie people who work in funeral homes are some of the most compassionate and understanding people. . . .

. . . .I guess you can’t always believe what you see on TV

22 02 2007

As a veteran of the funeral industry, I must relay my heartfelt sympathy to your friend. In my 10+ years taking care of grieving families, I have never met a person who would act this way.
I’m also led to believe that there is another side of this story that isn’t being told.
Namely, families who leave cremated remains behind don’t realize the responsibility of the funeral home. Many states require the funeral home to care for the remains until they are retrieved, no matter the time frame. Most states allow the funeral home to dispose of the remains (usually by water scattering) after a specific time period.
I think it’s really nice that this funeral home sheltered her remains for so long without either losing them or disposing of them as allowed by law.
I also wonder why they never picked up the remains. Was grief too strong? Did they just forget?
A funeral attendant who regularly assists others through the difficulty of death might rightfully wonder what kind of people would wait ten years to pick up mom.
BUT – that doesn’t give him the right to be rude. And it DOESN’T forgive his words.
As for the lack of an urn, that is a sad reality in today’s funeral industry. On my blog, where I counsel funeral directors about marketing and management, I have regularly spoken out against temporary containers. These are the cardboard boxes that are used when a family chooses not to purchase a more permanent urn. While it is a perfectly acceptable means of transport, especially when families have not decided upon final disposition, it is not the best “final impression” to give a family.
Please pass my condolences to your friend. No doubt this latest chapter has only reminded him of the immediate pain and difficulty he experienced at his mother’s death and serves to remind him of her absence.

22 02 2007
One Step Forward…Two Steps Back… « Final Embrace

[…] finalembrace under Client Relations , Funeral Marketing , Our Philosophy  From the blog, “miscellaneous musings & moggie mischief”: He said that this past Christmas after speaking to his dad, they realized that they had not […]

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