Have you ever had to bury someone close to you? I have. Eight years ago, I buried my husband. It wasn’t until recently that I recognized just how wonderful the service the funeral home provided me was. That became clear a few weeks ago when I attended a dear friend’s mother’s funeral. The service she received, from a different funeral home, was noticeably inferior to the service I received.
Now, I’ll go ahead and note that I utilized Leevy’s Funeral Home to facilitate my husband’s services, and I got excellent service. I recall meeting with Chris Leevy, whom I felt was very compassionate, caring and led a dignified service for a dignified man. But what I will NEVER forget is Brian Myers, who was working with Leevy at the time and has since opened his own funeral home, McCollum-Myers Mortuary
Weeks after the funeral, I was at my husband’s gravesite trying to make his final resting place a little more presentable. Brian was out there doing something completely unrelated. And without saying a word, he came and began helping me tidy up my husband’s gravesite. He carried flowers and paving stones from my pickup truck to the grave, without regard for this clothing. That really meant a lot to me then, and it still does today. For that reason, if I ever have to select a funeral home, it would be McCollum-Myers. And Leevy’s would be a close second.
But my close friend recently did not get such great service. She didn’t use McCollum-Myers or Leevy’s. She used another service in the area and I will not be shy in saying, that that was the worst funeral service that I have ever attended. Let me take that back. The service/program itself was not bad. But the service that the funeral home gave the family was noticeable substandard. Don’t get me wrong. I went to pay my respect to the family, not judge the funeral service. But there were such shortcomings in the way the service was facilitated, it was hard to ignore them.
The first thing I noticed was how fast the funeral motorcade was driving. My mother and I were directly behind the family cars. And we could barely keep up! I’m talking 45 and 50 miles per hour through neighborhoods. I asked my mother, “Why are they driving so fast? This is supposed to be a funeral procession.” That’s when she told me that the funeral home had another service scheduled for 11:00 am; the one we were attending was at 10… and both were at the chapel.
That seemed like an awfully close schedule to me. And the rest of the service proved to be driven by that schedule. Not providing care and service to the family, but keeping that schedule.
After they slung us into the parking lot, my mother and I and other mourners got out of our cars and walked to where the family was still seated inside the car. Once there, other family members joined us. What struck me next was the way the funeral attendants/directors ‘herded’ the family and us into a line. There was no finesse, no soft guiding touch, or gentle urging. What I heard loudly was, “Get in line, two by two. Get in line, two by two.” While the newly-arrived family was consoling their kin, hugging and kissing each other, the brash “Get in line, two by two,” infuriated me. Can you please allow these people time to say their ‘hellos’ and ‘I’m sorry’s’? I guess that was not in keeping with the time schedule.
Once inside the chapel, the service went rather quickly. They definitely got us out of there in plenty enough time for the 11:00 service. But later, I kept hearing people say how the deceased did not look like herself. In fact, she was almost unrecognizable.
Now, let me tell you about the deceased. She was a 98-year old lady who was one week shy of her 99th birthday. She was on little to no medication and was living a very good life up until the moment she died. In fact, I heard that the coroner marveled at how remarkable it was that a 98 year-old lady died on her own accord, with no illnesses or conditions; just ready to go.
Why was it then, that her family and friends could barely recognize her? Was it because the funeral home had used so much embalming fluid that it puffed her face and hands beyond recognition? I can’t think of a single reason why this women, who was not a cancer patient, didn’t have any illnesses, did not look like herself.
Well, as it turned out, the funeral home had four funerals for that day. When I went to their website to see the other funerals, they were not listed. In fact, their site still had funerals from May listed, and none from June.
Anywho, I called a friend who owns a funeral home to ask if four services in one day is typical. He said yes, if the funeral home is equipped to handle it, which may mean multiple chapels and an appropriate schedule. After I told him about what I had noticed at the funeral, he said he was not surprised. He also said he gets several calls every week from people telling him, “Please come get my mama/daddy from these people.”
So many other indecent things happened, but out of respect for the family, I will not mention them. But the saddest part about the whole experience for me was that a 98 year-old-lady did not get the care she deserved. And her wonderful daughter who cared for her for the last years of her life did not receive the compassion and service she deserved at such a delicate time. And sadly, there is nothing that can erase that experience for her.
Just like Brian Myers has secured my future business with his unselfish, compassionate act that day at my husband’s gravesite, that funeral home has ensured that I will never use their service. EVER!