Pitting the world's worst funeral director

There are no words to express the outrage and sheer astonishment I’m feeling right now. My husband’s gradfather died two days ago, and his viewing and funeral were handled by what has to be the most incompetent, insensitive and downright awful funeral director EVER.

There was a private, one hour viewing of the body for the family on Friday night, and then the casket was closed while Gammaw and the children (all eight of them!) received visitors. The trouble began then, when the funeral home didn’t bother to place all the flowers in the room ahead of time. During the entire visitation, which is supposed to be a time for friends and family to gather, offer condolences, and pay their respects, the funeral director was bustling in and out of the room arranging flower stands and potted plants. Also, the darn fool didn’t know how to drape the pall over the casket. He made such a mess of it that the grieving widow finally showed him how to do it.

Today it just got worse. The eldest son drove by the church cemetery 2 hours before the funeral and was astonished to see that the vault was not in place and the tent over the grave hadn’t been set up. When we arrived at the church for the funeral, the people from the funeral home were just arriving to put the vault and tent in place. The earth mover was still parked just down the hill from the grave, and the pile of dirt, which Gammaw had specifically asked be covered, was in plain view. All of this activity could be seen by everyone as they walked up to the church (although fortunately we couldn’t hear it). At the burial, there was supposed to be a rose for each of the fourteen grandchildren to place on the casket. They weren’t provided; I don’t know why, as it had all been arranged beforehand.

The worst thing of all, though, happened last night at the viewing. In the few minutes before the casket was to be closed, hubby’s grandmother managed to find a few moments alone at her husband’s side. She was gazing down, talking quietly, saying her last goodbyes to the man who had been her husband of 31 years, who adopted her 3 daughters and raised them as his own, and who had been the cornerstone of her world for time out of mind. The rest of us were giving her a little space, letting her say what she needed to say, when the WWFD came bustling up to her, interrupted her, and started asking questions. My husband was absolutely livid, but by the time he saw what was happening it was too late to stop the insensitive clod.

These so called professionals were supposed to make this experience easier for my husband’s family. Instead, they were insensitive, incompetent, and generally a source of stress for a family who is greiving the loss of their patriarch. None of the requests made by the family were unreasonable or even unusual, but somehow the funeral home managed to either screw it up or wait until the last minute about almost everything. It was appalling.

Disclaimer: I know this ain’t much of a rant, but I’m too tired and sad to muster up anything else. He was my husband’s Granddaddy but he always treated me like I belonged to him. He was a great man, and one of these days I’m going to have to pit the Lou Gehrig’s disease that took him. That’s no way to die.

Those fuckers! :mad:

NOBODY deserves that kind of treatment. I don’t know what to say or do, other that offer my condolences.

If the funeral director belongs to an association, report him.

Well, first of all, let me offer you and your family my condolences. I’ve been through it more times than I choose to remember, and every single time cuts like a dull knife and takes my breath away.

I hope I can say this right, because I want to make sure you know that I TOTALLY hear you and understand your frustration, disgust and disappointment. I think that these blasé attitudes in every area of service and retail have become an epidemic. So many times I’ve thought to myself: “If you owned this store/restaurant/whatever, you’d try so much harder.” Employees just don’t give a shit. Same paycheque, no matter how hard they do or don’t try, at the end of the week. Efforts made as a newbie at the job didn’t pay off and sometimes were scourned. (I’ve gone through that first hand at many jobs). The good ol days of ‘Mom and Pop stores’, family run businesses ~ all but gone forever. Now everything is “bigger and better”. You lose some service, but win (hopefully) in price and speed of transaction.

There are THREE occasions where it is ABSOLUTELY INEXCUSABLE to be blasé and inconsiderate:
[li]Weddings[/li][li]Healthcare (especially with the elderly and/or in long term facilities)[/li][li]Funerals[/li][/ul]
These are occasions where you just don’t get a second chance to do it right. Unfortunately, most of us will probably go through all three of these for ourselves, in a time where empathy is next to non-existant and callousness is of epic proportions. It’s a shame. And it makes you wonder, “WTF has this world turned into?”.

Hopefully, your family’s memories of the inadequacies of this time will fade, and the memory of the life of the man you came to celebrate will comfort you in your times of need.

I’m sorry for you.

Demand compensation from the Funeral Home.

Withhold partial or full payment until an accomadation is worked out if he hasn’t already received payment.

Report him to his professional assosciation, the state (those places are state licensed I believe) and the BBB and anybody I missed.

Share your experience with everybody you know. It’s good for you and bad for him.

I’m sorry for your loss. :frowning: It is indeed insensitive and horrible for him to interrupt her right as she was saying goodbye! I know that if it had been me I probably would have been in no emotional state to deal with anyone’s questions at that moment. Surely they train these people to give people space at such sensitive moments. I hope that something can be done about this to make sure he doesn’t treat anyone else that way.

As the daughter of a funeral director, let me assure you that this asshole was way out of line and that you should indeed complain to an association or perhaps someone else higher up in the company.

Please believe me when I say this man is a major embarassment to the profession, which has many upstanding people.

Thank you all for the kind words. It’s been a rough few days; my mother in law is taking this extremely hard, and of course my husband and I are also grieving.

Most of the stuff that happened – the thing about the roses, or not having all the flowers in place before the viewing began, would have been pretty inconsequential if they had been single episodes, but coming one after the other they just accumulated to get on our already frayed nerves. Hubby’s grandmother, fortunately, just took everything in stride and kind of let the mistakes roll past her. I’m just angry that she had to even give a moments thought to things that should have gone smoothly with no intervention on her part.

The thing at the casket, though. . .whew! Hubby nearly blew a gasket when he saw that. It was just so. . . freaking inconsiderate. The worst of it is that the guy who did all this stuff owns the stinking funeral home. You’d think he’d know better.

Overall it was a lovely service and a fitting tribute to a wonderful, caring, Christian man who touched many lives in many ways. We kept hearing people speak of his honesty, his integrity, his sense of humor, and his great faith. He was a great man and will be sorely missed.

My condolences on your loss. My condolences also on the absolutely unacceptable behavior these idiots subjected your family to.

While I don’t want to trivialize a burial as a mere financial transaction, the fact is that whomever arranged for the funeral paid for services which were either not rendered or rendered incompetently, and which cannot now be remedied. I would suggest, firstly, that your family cancel any further arrangements you have with the funeral home (such as plot leases for future burials, etc.), other than maintenance of the gravesite, assuming they provide that. Let them know why you are doing this. You may also want to contend the charges for all services not performed to your satisfaction; however, be prepared to be sued by the funeral home if you do this - in other words, consult a lawyer who is licensed in the state your father-in-law has been buried in, to determine the best way to proceed.

I would also suggest, without meaning to cause you grief, that in the case of such shoddy treatment of the living, you would do well to monitor how thoroughly the funeral home is meeting its obligations to the deceased.

If you do publicize the incident, do it tastefully but forcefully - see about talking to the local newspaper, if they’re interested. Unfortunately, in this age of pervasive mass communication, overdoing it can make you look like a kook with a vendetta.

county is right that funeral homes are often subject to state regulation, but wrong to suggest that there is commonly useful enforcement. In most cases, regulation in this area has consisted of rubber stamping established businesses - Ray Brent Marsh was subject to inspections, after all. You can certainly try, but I wouldn’t advise you to get your hopes up.

One last bit of advice: I know how painful it can be to see a supposedly trusted professional show such a lack of respect for both the living and the deceased. When my own grandmother died, the memorial service was so disrespectful of its intended purpose that her family all walked out of it and held our own rememberance. The most important lesson I took from that experience was that such pain, sharp as it is, is temporary; your grandfather’s effect on your life, and the lives of all he touched, is not, so long as you remember it. If you choose to remember the best of his life, then the insult that came after can be forgotten.

[quoteOriginally posted by Nightingale
(from the OP)
The worst thing of all, though, happened last night at the viewing. In the few minutes before the casket was to be closed, hubby’s grandmother managed to find a few moments alone at her husband’s side. She was gazing down, talking quietly, saying her last goodbyes to the man who had been her husband of 31 years, who adopted her 3 daughters and raised them as his own, and who had been the cornerstone of her world for time out of mind. The rest of us were giving her a little space, letting her say what she needed to say, when the WWFD came bustling up to her, interrupted her, and started asking questions. My husband was absolutely livid, but by the time he saw what was happening it was too late to stop the insensitive clod.[/quote]


That was ridiculous and inexcusable. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree with county. Make a formal complaint to the funeral home and to whoever regulates them and withhold payment because they failed to perform contracted services. (Note: I’m not a lawyer.) I think under the circumstances I’d also give a heads up to the Better Business Bureau.

Do you know how this company was selected? If you do, and whoever recommended them isn’t aware of this fiasco, you might want to tell them about it to. I’d also contact the church where the memorial service was held. Remember, churches do deal with funerals on a regular basis, so I suspect they’d know who is good and who isn’t. They may also appreciate knowing what happened if they don’t already and even be able to provide some extra support.

Nightingale, my sincere condolences to you and your family. I admire your grandmother for showing grace under pressure.


Interesting – you can’t report your own post to a Moderator. Lynn, Coldfire, I don’t suppose, in your infinite mercy and benevolence, you could do something about the hash I made of my coding in the quote and my first paragraph, could you?


Um… yes. Unacceptable.

I mean, if one has no empathy for the grieving, that’s one thing…but you’d think that a guy who makes his living this way could at least learn to fake it convincingly.

At any rate, the only thing I can add to what’s already been said is that I think I would be inclined (once I’d cooled off) to go have a nice little head-to-head chat with this particular funeral director. I’d have a list ready, so that I could point out the mistakes he made and the places where he fumbled the ball.

After all, other people will be dealing with this idiot in the future, and perhaps he might be receptive enough, smart enough, and sympathetic enough to realize his mistakes, and correct them in the future.

And if not, well, the very least I could do would be to inflict a little unpleasantness on his day, and perhaps cost him some business.

My Grandad died last month. Throughout the funeral service the vicar/priest/whatever-he-was referred to my mum (my Grandad’s step daughter) by the wrong name. This made me incredibly angry. What you went through is even worse! You have my sympathy.

In most (all?) states funeral directors are licensed by a state board which will investigate complaints against the director, and take disciplinary action where appropriate. In my state, the board is called, the “Board of Mortuary Arts.”

You don’t say where the funeral took place, but I see in your profile you live in Alabama. Here’s the information for Alabama:

Alabama Board of Funeral Service
770 Washington Ave, Ste 226
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-4049

As a funeral director I would like to punch this WWFD in the nose. I agree that a complaint to the owner would have been appropriate.

Funeral Directors pride themselves on making a difficult time easier to bear for the family and we expressly exist to facilitate and provide comfort to the bereaved. Clearly there were a number of misteps that occurred for your service and viewing that should not have happened at all. My funeral home would fire a numbnut who pulled all these boners.

Zombie funeral director… How ironic!

Should a funeral director really be resurrecting lapsed threads? How about some respect for the long expired? (Orignial thread, b 1/17/2004, d 1/18/2004)

Pulling boners in a funeral home should be right out.

Well, if the OP’s husband’s grandfather was a Spanish general it seem appropriate.

I just posted a WTF? in another thread about the nine, now ten, funeral-related threads in four different fora. Then I realized that every one of them was CoffinMan resurrecting a zombie. There’s a joke in there, and I’m sure mine won’t be the first or most clever, so I’ll forbear.