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Archive for July, 2010

Family Fueds

Funerals sometimes bring out the best in people and sometimes they don’t. And sometimes I just shake my head in disbelief at what goes on around here.

Blended families can be the hardest. Step children, 2nd wives, ex-wives, birth-children that left town long ago, girlfriends, boyfriends, significant others, grandkids, siblings and on and on. The public would be surprised at how often we funeral homes have challenges with families. One side says the other side is crazy and we better not let Aunt Susie in or she’ll cause a big ruckus. Then we meet Aunt Susie and she’s a dear. I have had countless families sit in the arrangement conference and say, “our family must be the worst family you’ve ever seen”. I assure them they are far more normal than they would ever believe.

But there are times when I feel like I should wear a black & white striped referee shirt and carry a whistle. Give it a couple toots and send everybody to neutral corners. A while back we had a doozy. The birthkids called the step-kids (or it could have been vice versa) and told them that Dad would have wanted everybody to dress casual for the service and to wear jeans. Then the birthkids did the opposite and dressed up in dresses and coats and ties just to tick off the other side. What do they hope to gain out of that?? Sheese, I don’t know?

I’m Dale Clock. Thanks for Listening

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In the past few weeks we have had challenges with price shoppers and price squeezers (people who want you to do it for less). I understand that some people are always going to try and get the best deal. And that it’s their normal mode of operation to ask “is that the best price you can do?” I am frustrated at times that they don’t seem to have a clue that I really need every dollar we ask for to keep the lights on and pay the staff. Well, that thought led me to this conclusion.

The health care system, health insurance, Medicaid, Hospice…… causes some people to think that there should be no cost (to them) for taking care of someone’s body, living or dead.

Let’s look at a typical situation cover the last stages of a life.

Susie is in a nursing home, her family has spent down her assets and Medicaid and Social Security is paying for her care and has been for 2 years. The family pays little or no out of pocket expenses. Susie falls, breaks a hip, goes to the emergency room, has surgery, goes to rehab, and recovers for a short period of time. Again the family pays nothing for all of this care and service and facilities. Susie takes a turn for the worse and the family moves her into a Hospice house where she spends the last week of her life. The staff there takes loving care of her 24 hours a day. The family is counseled by social workers and compassionate staff. The family is there using the facility 18 hours a day and more. Again, they pay nothing out of pocket for any of this. In fact they have never even seen any type a bill or statement that would give them any clue of what the facility and staff is actually being paid for their service. In the family’s mind these are just wonderful people taking care of their mother, and it never crosses their mind that these people are actually being monetarily compensated for their time and efforts.

Susie dies. The funeral home comes and takes the same wonderful care of Susie’s body that the nurses, social workers, doctors and multiple other people have done for the last month. We prepare her, bath her, clothe her, provide a new temporary home, plan a wonderful celebration of her life, coordinate everything that goes on with that, provide facilities and staff and even prepare a great meal and reception. Then we show the family a bill for our services and they are shocked. It’s the first time anyone has shown them a bill for the care of their mother. “Everything has been free up to this point, and now we have to pay?”

Listen, I am guilty of the same thing. The drugs I take only cost $10 (that’s my co-pay) and a doctor visit only costs $20. At least it seems that way, because it’s my bookkeeper that sends in the $7500 a month that it costs for the health insurance to cover my family and my staff. Yes, I look at the books daily, but it’s not coming out of my personal checkbook so it’s easy to think that “someone else” is paying for it. Even though that someone else is me, since I own the company.

How do we change this??  I don’t know?? Maybe the government ought to pay for funerals??

I just wish every once and awhile someone would say “ya know, you funeral folks are worth every penny we paid you, thanks for being there when we needed you.”

I’m Dale Clock.  Thanks for listening.

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Do It Yourself

I like being a handyman. Put tools in my hands and give me a project and I am as happy as a pig in mud. There is a start and a finish point and when I’m all done I can stand back and admire what I’ve done. And make gorilla noises like Tim the Toolman. I think it’s a male thing.

The problem with being like this is that often I have a hard time asking/telling/delegating other people to do projects that need to be done. And as the boss, that’s not a good trait. Because I like to do “projects” it just seems easier to Do It Myself, rather than take the time to tell somebody what I want done and then check it over when they are done, only to have to fix something that they didn’t do the way I would have liked them to do it.

Yes, I know that the only way they will learn is to let them do it themselves. And part of my job is to be the teacher/mentor. Some days I do have the patience to guide them along. And other days I don’t.

But what frustrates me sometimes is my employees inability to see the obvious house keeping things that need to be done and just do it without being told.

There’s a coffee stain in the carpet – just get the spot cleaner and take care of it. There’s a huge dandelion growing by the front door – just get the magic weedpuller tool in the garage and make it go away.  The empty boxes are piling up in the store room – just take them out to the dumpster. The air freshener gizmo is beeping – just go change the can. Sheese, it’s not that hard.

Sometimes it’s not in your job description, but cripe almighty, this is a small family business and we all need to pitch in. Yes, I know sometimes it is somebody else’s job and I (the boss) should tell them to do their job better. But instead of tattling to me that Susie didn’t get all the cobwebs or Fred didn’t fill out the form completely, just fix the problem first and we can deal with training issues at an appropriate time.

I’m Dale Clock. Thanks for listening.

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