Monday, December 22, 2008

Fun-filled Funereal Facts

Mortuary of the Week

The "mortuary of the week" (MOW) is a concept that has been adopted by many communities across the country. Each funeral home, within the community, will rotate on a weekly basis tending to Coroner's cases and to those who have died without family to consult or a funeral home decided upon.

It is also something well known to an "after hours" hospice nurse. All too frequently, a patient will die in a facility or inpatient unit with no preferred funeral home on their record. To make matters even more complicated, many family contacts do not answer their phones during the wee hours. It is then that I am forced to announce their loved one's death to an answering machine and call the mortuary of the week. It's something that never fails to leave me without a large knot in my stomach.

For now (and to keep this from becoming "ranty"), I'll chalk most of it up to ignorance of how the post-death system works. Some people think that all hospices and skilled nursing facilities have an in-house morgue to keep bodies stored until a funeral home is chosen... not so! Others are under the impression that all dead are taken to the Coroner's until family is notified. Sorry, the Coroner has no interest in a hospice patient. Lastly, my hospice will not look kindly upon my leaving a corpse, "in situ", for hours until family can be contacted and a funeral home decided upon. It is understood that I will facilitate the removal of the body as quickly as possible.

It would be a blessing if everyone, healthy or otherwise, would simply tell their friends or family which mortuary they would prefer to handle their arrangements. No "pre-arrangements" or even speaking to a funeral director need be done. Just know who to call... The mortuary will be most excellent at handling the rest of the business.

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Anonymous said...

Gee I feel a little out of place considering the subject matter, but I came by to say hi and wish you a peaceful holiday season. ~ tricia

(I don't think the average person realizes how important something like this is and as you say, there is little effort involved.)

Kit Courteney said...

I have no idea how things work over here.

As always, you raise some truly interesting points.

You have me and my family discussing all sorts now.

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Oh absolutely! My "death" interns are required to do a funeral plan/eulogy for themselves...

It's amazing how just that very process can alter fate...

Jessica Knapp said...

Very interesting post. Thanks!