Funeral Director messed up BIG time

  1. What is wrong with people? I had a patient die at 11:30 this evening. I had worked with the family all night trying to calm them and let them know what was happening as it was happening. I sat with a room full of 20 people, explained mottling, apnea, end of life temperature spikes, etc. Everyone did really well, even the sister who wasn't as accepting of the hospice decision at the start of the shift. Anyway, he did die before I left. I called the Chaplin out and they asked her to call the funeral home while I was in report. When I walked out of the room, one of his daughters asked me if it was too late to call another funeral home or if they had to stay with their first choice. It seems the funeral director called the wife in the room to ask her about specific arrangments:angryfire This woman had just lost her husband of 40 some years, do ya really think an hour after he dies is the proper time to ask her about funeral arrangments? WHAT COULD HE HAVE BEEN THINKING???? I was sick to my stomach, I pulled out our phone book and let the children pick another funeral home. Our chaplin called the original place and told them not to come. They didn't understand why, YEESH. Sorry, just had to vent.
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  2. 29 Comments

  3. by   TRAMA1RN
    I know that may sound harsh, but that is what funeral homes do. If the family was not ready then the funeral home should not have been contacted then. Policy in most places dictates that when the funeral home is called then family is ready to make arrangements. The funeral home DID NOT mess up, whomever contacted them messed, up. The same holds true with organ donation, patient dies, gift of life needs notified ASAP, things need to happen quickly. The patient was in hospice, family unfortunately should have been better prepared for making funeral arrangements, maybe next time include that in your teaching. Explain that once the funeral home is contacted things happen rather quickly.
  4. by   TiffyRN
    My husband's family used to own a funeral home and we actually worked at said funeral home for a few months. The funeral home needs to know some basic facts about what kind of service is requested as this will determine what will happen in the next few hours. For example if a client is not going to have a public viewing then embalming is not needed (though it can be done if family desired). If the family wants any service where there is to be a public viewing then (at least in our State) the health laws require embalming. Embalming is possible for many days after the death but the best results are achieved when done as soon as possible. Our funeral directors would head out as soon as possible (when the family said they were ready for the pick-up), bring the client to the Funeral Home and immediately start the embalming process. Some larger chain funeral homes would leave the body in the morgue overnight and not get to the embalming until many hours after the demise. Immediate embalming allows greater chance for more natural and "soft" looking features.

    Now, I have no idea how this particular funeral director addressed and dealt with your patient's family, maybe this individual was rude, uncaring, or abrupt. Just the fact that they contacted the family right away to ask what services they needed is NOT inappropriate, it is good service.

    I'm sure part of the problem was just the overwhelming emotions that your patient's family was going through and they may have overreacted to what is generally deemed the best practice.
  5. by   NurseCard
    Yeah, it also sounds to me like the family was not prepared to start making arrangements at all at that time, so the funeral home probably should not have been contacted just yet.

    What DOES happen exactly, when a family member has died and the family has not picked a funeral home/made arrangements, due to being emotionally unprepared? How long do you allow the family to stay in the room with the deceased, before they HAVE to be taken to the morgue?
  6. by   Sabby_NC
    I have seen this many times if the family have not had anything prepared or organized before the death. Although most will organize with the family to come in first thing in the morning to get the details sorted out.
    Our organization has a form for the funeral home that we fill out and give to them at the time of death.
    It has the pts name, address, age, SS#, PCG address etc.
    Drs name, address, phone numbers etc.
    It also has a section if the patient had any communicable diseases too.
    This usually helps the Funeral home with the basics.
  7. by   Conrad283
    If they patient was on Hospice then they should have had some idea about what they wanted for said patient. I mean, hospice means they're going to die, unfortunately. The funeral home was just doing their job.
  8. by   canoehead
    When the funeral director was asking questions, and no one had answers he could have let them know to think about it and let him know. Possibly the family was overreacting, and possibly the employee was too pushy, but I'm glad the family was able to find another funeral parlor they were happy with.
  9. by   ktwlpn
    Quote from ShayRN
    What is wrong with people? I had a patient die at 11:30 this evening. I had worked with the family all night trying to calm them and let them know what was happening as it was happening. I sat with a room full of 20 people, explained mottling, apnea, end of life temperature spikes, etc. Everyone did really well, even the sister who wasn't as accepting of the hospice decision at the start of the shift. Anyway, he did die before I left. I called the Chaplin out and they asked her to call the funeral home while I was in report. When I walked out of the room, one of his daughters asked me if it was too late to call another funeral home or if they had to stay with their first choice. It seems the funeral director called the wife in the room to ask her about specific arrangments:angryfire This woman had just lost her husband of 40 some years, do ya really think an hour after he dies is the proper time to ask her about funeral arrangments? WHAT COULD HE HAVE BEEN THINKING???? I was sick to my stomach, I pulled out our phone book and let the children pick another funeral home. Our chaplin called the original place and told them not to come. They didn't understand why, YEESH. Sorry, just had to vent.
    Sounds like you had an emotionally trying shift.And maybe got sucked into the family's vortex.Happens to us all-we let our professional judgement be influenced by emotion. I agree with other posts-this family was not prepared.And I'm not pointing the finger at hospice either-sometimes you can talk until you are blue in the face and people are only going to hear every other word...This is exactly why our facility has a policy stating that the loved ones must call the funeral home.In a perfect world he would have died at home surrounded by his 20 -odd loved ones and they could have let him lay their for hours until they were ready to call...and the family would have pre-planned the funeral..If these people were married at least 40 yrs then they were up there in age-this should NOT have been a big surprise,really....Think about it.Funeral homes want cash up front too..Sounds crass,doesn't it? But-what is the recourse if they don't get paid? Digging up my loved one? In my family we traditionally go with a certain local funeral home-if my son gets upset when they come to get me he had better not push his dad aside and presume to step in and call another home.I am betting the daughter was more upset about this then her mom-and I'm betting when the dust settles the mom is not going to be happy...I work in LTC-we have very few private rooms.We have had many many families practically hold a viewing at the bedside because no one on staff had the guts to diplomatically call a halt to the mess.I hate that-we have other people to care for,too..
  10. by   Jo Dirt
    The funeral director did nothing wrong. Seems like this family is so far removed from death even hospice couldn't prepare them for what was going on.

    What was the funeral director supposed to assume?

    I think the funeral director deserves an apology.
  11. by   richardjboro1
    I'm not sure about everywhere, but down in the South, our funeral directors almost always pick up the body immediately, and leave a card/contact # for us to call for details later. Then the next day the family is called in to discuss details, financing, etc. But, we tend to move slower down here too... (sarcastically said) soo.... who knows what happens all over US.
  12. by   tencat
    It doesn't sound like the funeral director really messed up. In our town the funeral homes will come pick up the body then ask family to come in the next day to make the arrangements. There is a certain amount of information they need at the time of removal, but they tend to wait on the real 'nitty-gritty' stuff (coffin, programs etc.).

    In a perfect world it would be nice if families were ready for hospice...meaning they were accepting of the impending death of their loved one. It is really amazing how strong denial is and how many people who find hospice are STILL in denial during the whole process. We've got a former physician on now who is riddled with cancer EVERYWHERE and is still talking about the chemotherapy that she feels will 'cure' her...she and her family will not accept that there is no more to be done. In the face of that kind of denial there is very little one can teach the family that the family will accept and understand. You keep teaching, but ultimately the family has to 'get' it for themselves.
  13. by   leslie :-D
    a truly professional funeral home, will be adept in dealing w/more than the business aspects.
    it's a given that utmost sensitivity, should dictate the direction of a loved one's funeral arrangements.
    any funeral director worth his weight in gold, will understand that timing is everything.
    and yes, there is a world of difference between 1 and even 3 hours.
    it could have waited a bit longer.
    i agree with shay.
    yes, they were doing their job.
    but they weren't doing their job, well.

    leslie
  14. by   ShayRN
    Sorry, all. I am going to have to stick by my original post. I have been in an inpatient hospice facility over a year now. With well over 500 deaths in this year alone, I think I can speak with some authority on this matter. It was completely inappropriate for this to have happened. What usually happens is the funeral home picks up the body and the family goes in the morning after a good nights sleep to make arrangements. One hour after the man dies is not the right time to be asking these questions. As far as him being in Hospice, this man was not sick for long. It was still a shock for this family that he was even in our program, let alone die that night. Arrangements weren't made because you don't expect that your husband will be fine one day and be dead two days later. It is sad and disappointing to me that things happened they way they did and I stand by that.

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