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Putting Fingers Where They Don’t Belong

I work at a Funeral Home, and as you can imagine, run across some unusual people, and have some great stories! But it always makes me wonder what some people are thinking when they do the things they do. From the girls/women who show up in mini skirts, platform high heels and tank tops. To the boys/men who show up in ripped jeans and tattered shirts. But anyway, this story is both sad and well, bad etiquette to say the least.

I had an arrangement with a woman whose 11 year old son passed away, it was a very unfortunate accident. The mother and her boyfriend showed up to make arrangements. During this arrangement meeting, she stated that she did not have any money to pay for the things (viewing, prayer cards, etc) she had choosen. Well, all payment is due before the day of service and I ‘tried’ to explain this as nice as I could. Well, arrangements were made along with the payment being due the next day in full.

The next morning we received a call from the father of the little boy (the boy actually lived with the father) and he said he wanted to schedule and appointment with us to make arrangements for his son who passed away. Well, noticing that this was the same family, I continued to explain that the mother had already done so. So over the course of the next day there was nothing but arguing going on between the families. The funeral home will not get involved in any family arguments and we will tell this to the family. We will explain that if things cannot be worked out then ALL members who are in disagreement must come to an agreement and all meet with us to schedule funeral arrangements.

One day while the father was there taking care of some last minute details, we needed to contact the mother to get some information and an approval from her. I had my secretary contact the mother. She got the “mother” on the phone and transferred the call to me. I spoke to the “mother” and she was not being cooperative with what the father wanted to do, again! Well, the mother hung up on me and I had to call her back and had to tell her that this is not tolerable and that if she is not going to be cooperative then she needs to meet with us and get this straightened out, again! Come to find out, the person who I was speaking to all the while was her younger daughter! Since she was being uncooperative with me, I told the father that he has to speak with her to get this worked out, so I put him on the phone, when he started to talk to her, he realized that it was his younger daughter! The mother did not want to ‘deal’ with the funeral arrangements anymore and told her daughter to just say ‘no’ to anything the funeral home asked!

Forward to the actual visitation day. The mother arrives one and half hours late to her son’s viewing. The family had a half hour prior to viewing just for family time. We could not let anyone in until she arrived (the father decided that he would not attend a viewing until the next day to avoid confrontation with the mother) so everyone else who showed up to pay respects had to wait in the lounge or outside or in the hallways until she came. She made no apologies to anyone when she finally did arrive.  When she was asked if she was going to make the funeral bill payment, she came up with some story about the money being at her place of employment and that if we wanted she would contact out local news station to let them know that we want our money now, how would we like that? But here comes the gruesome part.

Toward the end of the evening, as I was walking down the hall checking on coffee, etc, I passed by the chapel doors and noticed that the mother was leaning over the casket. As I looked closer, she was actually pushing on the little boy’s eyes, hard enough that some fluid had started to leak out! I immediately went into the chapel to ask her to please stop! At that time, I also noticed that the little boy’s mouth was now opened. She had pulled the mouth open and pushed on his eyes so hard, that I had to ask everyone to step out of the chapel so I could repair the damage she had caused. She then had the nerve to say to me that she would be coming in bright and early the next morning to check to make sure that his face was repaired because she did not want anyone to see him looking like that! So, we had better get it done before she arrived the next day.

Also earlier that evening, as people were entering the building,  without my knowledge, she was telling “certain” people that they were not welcome (because they were friends of the father’s). Apparently one of the people who were turned away, called the father, and the father showed up to the funeral home to confront the mother. A fight ensued and the police were called and told her that if they were called back that they would arrest her. Well, the following morning we were expecting the mother to come in early to ‘check’ the little boys appearance, she never showed up, until about 8pm, an hour before visitation concluded! The father was there and again, she decided to instigate an argument with him and we threatened to contact the police once again. She left. BUT, before the evening ended, the grandmother (the mother’s mother) was in the chapel and for whatever reason being, opened the little boy’s mouth….again! The girl who was working that evening, went into the chapel and politely asked the grandmother to leave. That we would not have this anymore, that it is not appropriate to do that. Her remark was that, that was not her grandson laying there, she did not know who that was and she and her daughter are furious! Remarkably, the actual funeral service went without a hitch. The father and his sister-in-law ended up paying for the entire funeral bill, even though there was a fund raiser at the mother’s place of employment, a very popular entertainment center. What happened to that money?  0811-09

Eeeww!  The only motive I can come up with to explain the mother’s odd behavior with the corpse was to discredit the funeral home as having done a poor job of embalming for which she would not feel compelled to pay for.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Amber August 20, 2009, 1:20 pm

    I think you’re right, Jeanne, and that has to be the most disgusting way to get out of a bill I’ve ever heard!

  • HonorH August 21, 2009, 8:51 am

    This, of course, begs the question of why the father had custody of the child . . .

  • ifab August 21, 2009, 7:36 pm

    Etiquette Hell?? This should be under mental issues hell. I cannot believe I just read this entire disgusting story.

  • Alexis August 26, 2009, 1:33 pm

    Can’t you get arrested for abusing a corpse? At the very least, behavior like this should result in the offending party being removed from the premises immediately, no matter what that person’s relation to the deceased may be.
    And they weren’t paying for the whole thing anyway.

  • Alexis August 26, 2009, 2:00 pm

    One more thing. Keeping charitable contributions, rather than using the money for its intended purpose, is stealing. The funeral home should have made this theft know to the police, as well as to the donors and the IRS.

  • Alexis August 26, 2009, 2:00 pm

    One more thing. Keeping charitable contributions, rather than using the money for its intended purpose, is stealing. The funeral home should have made this theft known to the police, as well as to the donors and the IRS.

  • livingdedgrl August 28, 2009, 2:49 pm

    Since the funeral bill was taken care of in full, we did not press the issue of the money that was donated during the fundraiser at the mother’s place of employment. We have actually had 2 other cases in which young children passed away and the families place of employment or the family themselves actually put on a fund raiser to help the family and the funeral home has never seen that money, the money was paid to us from “other” family members. Also, yes, we did tell the mother and the grandmother that if anyone touched the boy again that they would be asked to leave and not return. The mother never said anything about the embalming, but meeting the family, well at least the mother’s side, I almost think it was some kind of religious or some kind of belief that they had, could be wrong…..

  • Alexis September 9, 2009, 11:59 am

    It’s still fraud and theft, and it’s still a reason to inform the police and the IRS. Just because your establishment was not cheated does not change that fact. I don’t know how long ago these funerals you describe occured, but as far as I know, there is no statute of limitations on financial fraud. And the workplace that held the fundraiser should have been informed as well.
    If the only reason you did not report this is because you weren’t personally affected, I would say you were knowingly complicit in the crime.

  • Caroline October 7, 2009, 11:49 pm

    Ugh! I wish that (A) this story didn’t exist and (B) I never read it… how horrible for that family and that little boy.

  • Ling October 20, 2009, 7:44 am

    What uggly, petty people! Fighting and bickering over a dead little boy! No wonder the father had custody of the child.

    Nice empty threat she had of going to the news station and tattle that some greedy types wanted to be paid for their work.
    Totally clueless, apparently.

  • Candace February 19, 2010, 12:04 pm

    Poor kid and poor father having to put up with that. May that child rest in peace.

  • Celeste March 11, 2010, 4:54 pm

    while i totally agree that she was beyond rude, as a full time nanny i know that if any of the girls i take care of died i couldn’t be counted on to be completely in my right mind though my grief (though i wouldn’t touch a dead body) And being as she was his mother, and from what the grandmother said, it sounds to me like extreme grief and denial…that’s how i felt about it as i read it, but really we all have no idea how she was before her young son died so it could very well be normal behavior for her, but honestly this story just made me feel bad for them all, mother included.

  • EmmaP July 22, 2010, 1:54 pm

    Depending where you live abuse of a corpse can a felony (4-5th degree.) What you described would be in the range of that charge. It’s just so sick – especially for a mother to do it. I would have reported it, but I understand that I am not running a business and don’t have to deal with the fallout. Who knows what her daughters will end up like.

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