Over the course of the past few years, I’ve noticed that death tends to have seasons. During the summer, I find myself in the office, twiddling my thumbs, maybe cleaning up old files. However, when winter hits…..it’s like a never-ending storm. Once the leaves start to brown, the wind starts to pick up, and the drunken car accidents from Labor Day have passed…every funeral director knows…
WINTER IS COMING.
I’ve never been quite sure why it’s consistently hectic at the mortuary when the temperature drops. Every mortician has their own theories on why this is. Regardless, it’s the time that really forces your friendly neighborhood mortician to show what she’s made of.
On this particular day, there were 16 new first calls. Whenever the mortuary does an intake, a funeral director calls the family, schedules an appointment for them to come in, and makes the arrangements for the services.
Ironically enough, when it comes to death, everyone is in a rush. Everything is an emergency, and nothing can wait.
This was the case for the Porter family. Maggie Porter had died in her sleep the previous night, and her son wanted to come in that morning to make the arrangements.
“I’m sorry Mr. Porter, I don’t have anything available before Thursday.”
“But, it’s Monday.”
“I understand, and I’m very sorry. Would it be alright if I asked you a few questions over the phone to get the process started? I can even send the documents via email or fax if you’d like.”
This was a practice I’d adopted to help soothe upset families who would have to wait a few days before I could see them.
He wasn’t buying it.
“How much is it going to cost me to skip the line?”
I didn’t understand.
“You heard me. How much is it going to cost me to skip the line? I want to have this done before the end of the week.”
It doesn’t work that way. You can’t skip the line, or pay more to have your services pushed up.
“I’m sorry Mr. Porter, that isn’t the way we do things here. We are morally obligated to serve each family in the order that they come to us, regardless of how much money they plan to spend.”
“Well, what if I go elsewhere?” He was angry, I could tell….but I wasn’t backing down.
“That is your decision, and I would not stand in your way.”
“Isn’t it your job to bring money in?” He asked. He thought he had me.
“No sir. My job is to protect each and every family that sits down with me to memorialize their loved one. To acknowledge and respect the tremendous amount of trust placed in me to get this right for them.”
We didn’t keep the case. We lost it to some huge fancy mortuary a few miles away from ours….and that’s OK.
Every family matters. Whether you’re spending $5, or $50,000, your family is owed the full attention of a funeral director, and that is far more valuable than any amount of money. We don’t do it for the money (because–shameless plug– there soooooo isn’t enough for what we do), we do it because it’s right.
Some of us would do it for free (Not me though….but some of us haha)
We do it because we care.
We do it for love.