Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mortuary of the Week Revisted: Sad Point Made

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20:  Funeral resident Jenn...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeI worked throughout the Christmas holiday. Two people, in our inpatient units, died during my work "week". In both cases, I was unable to contact any family members for either patient and no preferred mortuary was on record. That was a pretty crazy coincidence since I'd just posted an article last week about this very subject!

After many contact attempts, I finally had to leave a message on voicemail for the daughter of one of the deceased and then call the Mortuary of the Week (MOW). As for the other patient... well, her husband had left his phone off the hook all night. So he'll get a call from the MOW ,in the morning, telling him that his wife has died and they have her body at their funeral home. How crappy is that?!

I managed to avoid getting ranty in my previous post about MOW's, but I'm afraid that now, I must succumb. Because frankly, I have yet to hear anyone tell me the truth about why a funeral home has not been chosen for their terminally or chronically ill family member:

  • Please don't tell me that you were surprised by your loved one's death when I know that the patient has been chronically ill for years and a hospice patient for months.
  • Please don't blame our social worker for not getting to you "tout suite" with our list of local funeral homes. The exact same information is in the Yellow Pages.
  • Most of all, please don't blame your dead loved one for not choosing a funeral home. You've watched your 84 year old mother decline mentally and physically for years. As her 58 year old "child" you should have had the maturity and foresight to just think about a funeral home.
Oh my, I think I must have had all the holiday spirit sucked right out of me last week! Well, I'll neatly fold my "ranty panties" and put them back in the drawer for now. Hopefully, I won't be wearing them again for a very long time.



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5 comments:

papercages said...

Sounds like a tough week. The rant seems justified to me.

Hope you have a good holiday.

Buck said...

I wouldn't even categorize that as a rant. That's just good common sense and good advice. My family, thankfully, has always been very clear about arrangements. My grandmothers both made their arrangements years in advance of their deaths down to the smallest detail. Although my mother did not officially make arrangements before her death, we have used the same funeral home for many years so with one call they got everything going until we could catch our breaths. Personally, Michael and I have discussed our plans in depth, especially in light of both facing life threatening illnesses in the past few years.

soulsoprano said...

The MOW problem is just another example of how some families expect us to be miracle workers in everything, and take care of everything for them. Allowing us to call the "MOW" decreases their responsibility, so no one else in the family (who also took no responsibility) can say they made the "wrong" decision. Perhaps these families are among the rank of extreme procrastinators, and are just stuck in "neutral", never facing reality until the death actually happens.

dethmama said...

@soulsoprano...

Yes, you've hit on several good points. We've also had many family members assume that hospice will handle all the funeral arrangements, pick up cremains, etc. It's one of many frustrations that hospices are faced with.

dethmama said...

@papercages...

Oof... you know, it really was a decent week, but the MOW issue raised my hackles. Thanks for your understanding, Tricia.

@ Buck...

Thanks, Buck. You've also re-raised a point I tried to make in my previous MOW post. One does not have to contact a funeral home and make any "arrangements" prior to death. All you need to do is make sure that all the right people know who to call when the time comes.