Monday, February 4, 2013


 NOTE - Due to the cease and desist letter I received from a specific corporation, all names are to be considered fictitious, but then again, I did not write the article.

Disclaimer - If none of this information pertains to your staff or your funeral home, don't worry about it. But don't be angry with me for speaking the truth......
FIRST CALL - The initial visit of the funeral director (rarely), their staff representatives or their "Removal Service"  to the place of death for the purpose of removing the deceased and to secure certain information for which he has immediate need.
REMOVAL - Transport of the deceased from the place of death be it a Hospice facility, the residence, the Medical Examiners office or the Hospital to the funeral home for refrigeration, storage or preparation while the administrative duties and responsibilities of the facility are conducted. This is done by either the funeral home staff or the "Removal Service".


Of all the concerns I have heard from the community, probably the biggest and most concerning has been, "How do I know your facility is going to be the one that picks up my Mom when she dies, HOW WILL WE KNOW"?
You won't know, unless you do your homework and handle your affairs prior to the death. As much as the funeral home may want to ensure everything goes as smooth as it can, as much as they may want to release the burden of the moment or soften the blow from the loss of your loved one, the funeral home can not step into your shoes and tell the Hospice facility or hospital that "YOU" chose "US" at the time of death. This is illegal and for a "care facility" to accept the call or name from a funeral home is illegal. It is also illegal for a hospice or care facility to tell you that they work "specifically" with any one facility. By law, they are required to give you a choice of 3. (Arizona). I have always recommended to the family that at least one person, family representative or friend stay with the deceased until the funeral home of your choice arrives and identifies themselves as your selected and preferred facility. We usually respond in 1/2 hour so the wait is not long to give you a bit of comfort. If you want to ensure you are not getting a removal service, when the staff member arrives, ask who took the "first call?"

What if she ends up elsewhere?

Guess what, this happens also. This happens when the deceased passes away late at night and the hospice has not been notified of a facility or location. This happens late at night when an unethical hospice worker that is doing this for a "kick back" (this happens, I don't care what anyone says, not all the time, but it does). They hope that the family will not question the location selected, especially for just cremation. The bottom line is that no matter what, if the deceased ends up at a facility you did not ask for or select, even if you DID NOT pick one at all, you are not obligated to pay the removal charges. Tell the funeral home to bill the hospice that they selected without your permission.

The Funeral Home is Here.....

A knock at the door, some of the family is in the room with Mom, some are in the kitchen, one of the family members answers the door and a younger looking guy is there in a shirt and tie, its usually not what you expected. He is kind, he says "hi, my name is  ......" from such and such funeral home. You stop and turn your head and say "The Funeral Home is here!" Guess what, most of the time, they are not. In fact, they probably don't even work for the funeral home. It's a contract company that drives all over the valley doing what is called "REMOVALS". this is the term for picking up a deceased person and transporting them to the funeral home.

The guy comes in and asks to see were the deceased is. He then asks for the person in charge. Not much is said and he will not say much. He gives the business card and fills out some paper work. He then speaks to the hospice nurse and asks when you are ready, just let him know. The hospice nurse will share with the family, "Perhaps you would like to leave the room while he places Mom on the gurney" Now, I discourage that, "IN FACT" I encourage family members to help if they wish, it is very comforting helps Begin the grieving process.

The "Removal guy" or "Staff" from my funeral home then bring in the gurney, they lower it to the level of the bed and place a device called a "slide board" under the deceased. It is a flat plastic very smooth board that is used for "sliding" the deceased across the bed onto the gurney. The gurney has two straps to secure the deceased to it. The staff then covers the gurney but I encourage the staff to not cover the deceased face until they get to the front door. It has been my experience that the family walks with the deceased out to the van, again, I encourage this. I ask the children "Walk with your Mom or Dad". We get to the van and the deceased is placed in the back. The staff member then tells the family, "You will be contacted in the morning by the funeral home. Then you leave. Allot of staff from removal services are collage kids trying to get through collage or someone going to mortuary school. Remember, it is illegal for a removal staff person to pick up a deceased with alcohol on their breath.

Were do you go then?

Well, the "removal service" runs to the next removal and on and on and on at times taking your loved on a 3 to 4 hour "tour" of the city. Yes it is legal, and yes they are that busy. The "Funeral Home" staff go to the funeral home that they work for, but more and more removal vehicles go to a central processing unit were they take all the bodies that the company either cremates or buries. The corporate funeral homes use usually one facility in the area. We at Avenidas take the deceased to the funeral home, our funeral home in AVONDALE, Arizona. by our funeral home employee drivers. Thoompson Funeral Chapel of Goodyear AZ uses a "Removal Service" as does THE "no name" funeral home in Tolleson AZ, Avdantage Crystal Rose take the deceased to it's central "Prep. Unit" in central Phoenix, AZ. (Also known as CSI or The Dingity Memorial guys)

Why do they do that?

Got to get to the next removal...........
Ring! Ring!.. not now
 I'm sleeping.........
Because they can? I don't know, because the funeral director is to lazy to get out of bed in the middle of the night? (or the middle of the day or to busy playing video games)  Save money? (not for you! not at the prices these other facilities charge) Who knows. Removal services are a good thing, most are very professional and courteous, but still, I have a staff and chose to run a funeral home so WE can serve you, not a removal service. It's a really good feeling when a family comes into see me and tells me. "Your guy was very nice and professional last night" and I can tell them, "May I bring him in so you can thank him personally?" I like that and they earned the re recognition.


  1. I've "liked" your page for about the last two months. My grandmother was in the funeral home business for 40 years in Southern California. The company she worked for was a lot like yours, When she passed away 5 years ago we were lucky enough to be able to use her company. Six months ago my husband's father passed away he passed away in the middle of Hunting in his sleep and was taken by the coroner in Northern Arizona. We then had to rush to find a funeral home that could do everything we needed. I sure wish we would have found you before going with a much higher priced company that was not nearly as courteous. God forbid I ever have to use another funeral home, you will be my first pick

  2. Catherine, Thank you so much for your kind words. I try very hard to be factual and honest. I speak from 15 years in the industry watching it all unravel for some families going from bad... to worse. I just care allot about people that are grieving so hard and really am trying to do all I can to soften their blow during a death. It's horrible. Thank you and please look at my link below to my Facebook "Information page". Full of all kinds of little bits and pieces of info that helps. Thank you for taking the time and Enjoy Cali, I just returned from San Francisco.


    Miguel Legaspi