A few weeks back a funeral associate of mine was talking to a gentleman at a visitation about prearrangements. I was not available at the time to sit down and speak with him, so he was given a GPL and a promise that I would call and answer any questions he had in detail the next day.
So I called him. Except, he didn’t answer the phone. His wife did.
A lot of times, when I call people about prearrangements, I don’t like to initially say where I’m calling from. I’ve been in situations where family members ask me not to disclose that I’m from a funeral home, for one reason or another. Even though I was not told to withhold that information here, when this woman answered the phone instead of identifying myself right away, I just asked if the gentleman was home.
That’s when the woman identified herself as the wife and asked who was calling.
“My name is Lauren and I’m calling from the funeral ho-” was about as much as I was able to get off my lips before the wife let out a huge sigh and exclaimed, “Give me a break!”
She then proceeded to yell at me over the phone, about how her and her husband have no time to talk about preplanning because they’re so busy and how she repeatedly told her husband not to talk to a funeral director and how dare I call their home phone number.
I couldn’t even muster one word in to assure her that it was alright and they didn’t have to meet with me before I heard a ‘click’ and the line go dead.
The point that I’m trying to make with this story isn’t about proper phone etiquette, but instead that the only reason I called in the first place is because someone had questions.
I won’t tell people I’m a funeral director when I’m not working unless someone asks. One reason I don’t go around sharing my choice of careers is because when one says that they work in the death care industry people always have questions. Which is great; I honestly love talking about death. But sometimes I need a break. Sometimes, I just want to enjoy a moment for what it is rather than spend that time talking about work.
Therefore, I want to also say that I don’t spend my spare time calling people asking them if they have plans for their corpse once they die. If you ask me your options, I will have a conversation, but I won’t bring up the subject on my own.
I do not know the circumstances behind the reasons why the wife treated me as she did. Maybe something had just happened before she picked up the phone that put her in a bad mood. Maybe a family member was sick and she couldn’t face talking with a funeral director at that exact moment. But it’s not my job to force people to confront their mortality.
I cannot make everyone comfortable with the inevitable. I do not try to force my own beliefs on others when it comes to how they care for their dead. The only thing that I ever hope for, is that people at least have a conversation with those they love.
I am a resource. It is my job to serve those who seek my help, but not to force myself on those when my knowledge is not welcomed. I wish that I could have explained myself and apologized to the wife before she hung up the telephone. But, just maybe, our brief encounter allowed for her and her husband to have a more meaningful conversation on their own time.