I apologize in advance if this comes off as crass or insensitive. I realize that within our efforts to do what we need to do in an overwhelming situation, we can potentially and understandably lose basic common sense and things fall through the cracks. I’m not immune to this and lately find myself constantly telling myself to stop and make sure I didn’t forget something, someone, or some other obligation during COVID when I am overworked, over-stressed, and running on fumes. I always try to remember that this is what I signed up for and I have an obligation to my customers to take care of them. I can’t just throw my hands up and let it all go when the going gets tough. The luxury of the “every man to himself” mode just isn’t feasible. Chaos and turmoil are not the answer. This is just as important to my customers in the funeral service profession. I have heard of and read about funeral professionals rising to the occasion and are heroes in their communities during this pandemic. I have also, however, heard some things that make me shake my head and wonder why things like this happen. So, to get this off my chest, make more folks aware that the boy scouts say it best when they proclaim “Be Prepared” and to do my tiny part to make funeral service better, not only in practice but in the eyes of the public, Yes this blog is to vent.
You may be thinking this is just a blatant attempt to sell more coolers. It is not. I can’t say that it is not a subtle suggestion because that is my job however please know that I believe in funeral service. And I am proud to be able to contribute with my business to help the living cope with death.
One of the biggest lessons I hope we all take from this horrible time is that we were NOT prepared as a profession like we should have been. As we are obligated to be. This is what we signed up for, is it not? We are always striving to defend our worth and our value to our consumers but what does it say to them when they see articles about atrocities done by a funeral home because of the virus? Ethics and obligation do not end just because the times got tough. The public do not care about the reason why something terrible happens, they know that it shouldn’t have happened and the perception of the perpetrator is forever negative.
Let’s look at a couple of the salacious headlines I’ve seen lately.
- Shock, outrage after bodies found in U-Haul trucks at NYC funeral home
- 11 bodies stored in rooms between 60 and 70 degrees removed from N.J. funeral home
- Brooklyn Funeral Home Has License Suspended After Storing Bodies In Unrefrigerated Trucks
These stories are heartbreaking and there is no doubt that the folks involved had best intentions and were simply unprepared. Sure, a mortuary cooler (or a larger capacity model could have eliminated the need to store the dead inappropriately but what’s wrong with saying “I am sorry, we are currently at full capacity and are not able to accept any more decedents until we can safely and with the dignity and respect that they deserve?” People with compassion (funeral professionals!) have a hard time saying “no” when asked for something. I get that and I can be the same way. But there is a point that we need to weigh the options and decide if saying “yes” will be emotionally harmful to the family or physically harmful to the deceased.
Because I just cannot end on a negative thought, I want to share an article I read that, although not all sunshine and roses, paints a much more positive and reasonable picture of the situation in the Northeast United States.
175 bodies in 2 days: Deluged with coronavirus victims, a Philadelphia cemetery aims to preserve the dignity of the dead
May 5, 2020, by Mike Newell
The Philadelphia Inquirer
We know better. I know we can do better. We just need to be proactive versus reactive. We need to spend the money and stock up on PPE (and TP). We need to make sure we have a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C, and even a plan D. We need to consider a mortuary cooler (even a small 3 body portable is better than nothing and is super affordable). We need to know how to say “no” and we need to know when it’s time to say it. We also need to know when it’s time to ask for help. Easy right?
1. Washington Post YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFUxlykDzgk