By the end of my sister’s funeral, I was emotionally drained from giving her eulogy, providing a “strong shoulder” for my brother-in-law, young nephew and my parents, running interference for my brother-in-law and parents with the funeral home, and acting as a greeter for all guests who had arrived early for the service. By the time the service ended at one that afternoon, I had been up for over twelve hours and had been at the chapel since eight that morning.
My brother-in-law had asked four of their male friends to serve as pallbearers, but eight were needed, so my three cousins and I stepped in. The funeral director immediately ran forward and told us to put on the pallbearer boutonnieres the florist had sent. My cousins pinned the flowers to their lapels, but I just said I was in no mood to do so. The director chose that moment to throw etiquette fit over the fact that we were not all matching and that this was something I HAD to do to show the “honor” of my position. I told him that it was OK as I was the deceased’s brother and it did not matter whether we were matching or whether I looked like I was being “honored”.
As we pulled the casket from the hearse at the cemetery and started to carry it to the grave, the funeral director appeared at my side and began trying to pin the silly flower on me WHILE I WAS TRYING TO CONCENTRATE ON CARRYING AND NOT DROPPING MY SISTER. Thankfully, I did not lose it right then though my right arm did swing out and pushed him off me while I told him in very clear language to stay away. The guy held that flower as if it was something sacred for the remainder of the burial. 10-05-08
Who would like to place their bets that this story will appear in a future TV show or movie as a comic scene involving an obsessive funeral director?
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It always amazes me when I hear stories of funeral directors with the sensitivity of an over-entitled mother in law. In this case, the director’s sense of what was “proper” entitled him to override the LW’s clear preference. It’s hard to make someone else’s funeral all about him, but he sure made the effort.
The bad customer service is stunning, but like bridal shops, they probably don’t expect much repeat business (and there really isn’t that much competition in the industry), so they don’t really care who they offend.
As a funeral director myself, I am deeply disturbed that the director in charge of your sister’s service put his own priorities over yours. A funeral director should be a resource for, and an example of, good manners. I believe that etiquette is about sensitivity and respect for the feelings of others, not enforcing rules of dress and protocol upon others. In addition to ignoring your wishes at your sister’s funeral service, the director disregarded the safety of all the pall bearers and the solemnity of the occasion by interrupting your work.
In response to art2002’s comment, in many places there are choices between funeral homes, funeral homes do rely upon their reputations and on repeat business from families.
Ultimately, if funeral directors do not listen to their clients and respond with sensitivity, people will find other options.