Expectations of the cemetery – People can become angry over their expectations of a cemetery

Written by Dan Moran. Posted in Senior Living

Published on July 05, 2017 with No Comments

“You #@$%% people don’t #@$%% care and I am going to the @#$#$ paper and report you @@#@#  @#$#$’s!!!”

Sadly, it is more common than ever that people call the cemetery and use that kind of language over something that they did not like about a funeral committal service or how the cemetery is maintained.  The quote above was offered to one of our family service people recently with no niceties preceding it.  Our employer was leaving for the day during Memorial Day weekend when a car pulled up, a man got out and started tearing into our family service counselor.

To his credit, Fred (not his real name) listened to this foul-mouthed visitor with patience, asked him to calm down and explain his problem. When the verbal abuse continued, Fred told him he would like to help him, but if the person continued with the bad language, he would not be helped.  The visitor shut it down for a bit, told Fred something about flowers on the grave of a recently-departed family member, and they both went to the gravesite to see what happened.

When a committal service takes place and the burial is completed, it is the job of the grounds crew to place any flowers that were brought from the funeral home on top of the fresh mound of earth.  In this case, four bouquets of flowers were brought to the cemetery and when the grave was filled in, the ground crew forgot to move the flowers onto the grave.  Yes, an error was made, but it was certainly not intentional.  Fred explained the normal procedure, helped to place the flowers, and started to leave.  At this point the visitor started in again with his verbal rampage.  Fred looked at him, wished him a good evening and drove away.

Whether an issue be flowers as described above or raising and leveling a memorial marker or not having a garbage can where someone wants a garbage can, and a thousand other challenges faced by cemeteries across the region on a daily basis, people seem to have left their ability to approach their complaints with any degree of politeness at the door.  They come in loaded for bear when simple civility would get better results.  It seems odd to think that if you have a complaint, legitimate or not, that it would be a better strategy to speak nicely to the very person who may help you solve the complaint.

Another issue that people tend to become angry over is the expectation of the cemetery to be paid for services and products that are necessary to provide the funeral that they want for their loved one.  Quite often they become angry at us when they cannot afford to pay and yet want more than they can afford.  There have been two instances in this past month that Calumet Park has handled services for people that have a legitimate money issue…and performed the services at no cost.  A veteran who served honorably that had no family and a case just recently that will not be described to protect the dignity of the family…both compliments of the board of directors of this family-owned and operated cemetery.   The point being that we are a business with expenses and it is unfair to complain and swear and behave in that kind of manner when things do not go exactly as you may want.

Calumet Park has 170 developed acres of land to tend to, around 600 burials a year, tens of thousands of monuments and markers and trees and shrubs to mow around, over five miles of road to maintain, and approximately 50 employees that work hard to serve the families that come to us.  As much as we would like to help everyone who loses a loved one with the financial obligation of arranging a funeral, it is just not practical.

We are here to serve, so all we ask is the opportunity to know when things do not go as you wanted, so we can help.  It is never, ever our goal to cause any person or family that comes to us any additional grief by failing to do our jobs.  We are here because we love helping families through a tough time in their lives.

So, for those who exude kindness even in their grief, we thank you.  For those that do not treat us with respect, please try to remember we are just simple folks trying to help, so all we ask is for a little respect.  As Clint Eastwood‘s famous line goes, “Make my day!”  You can, in either a positive or negative way…that is your superpower.  Use it wisely.

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