Friday, December 30, 2011

A Wish For 2012.

I'm concluding two weeks of watching a business for a friend while he was on vacation. During this time period I assisted nine families with funeral arrangements. I realize the role of a funeral director is not a role that makes me dance all the way home. Still, one day in particular weighs very heavily on me. On this day I made two funeral arrangements, back to back.
Money Troubles.
In one arrangement the deceased had died suddenly, leaving a spouse that hadn't worked full time in 3 years and their adult daughter. Friends present at the arrangement clued me in to the depths of the financial challenges the family is facing. Without violating confidence, the family is in significant financial trouble. When I asked for payment (the policy is to be paid in full no later than the day of the service), the family asked for a payment plan. "I'm sorry, we don't offer payment plans" was all I could offer. I left with the family promising to bring payment in full at the funeral service in roughly 36 hours. They had no clue how they were going to pay, neither did I.
source: Useful Free Stuff
The other arrangement was a fully grown son and his wife son planning a funeral for his parent. When the arrangement was concluded, I asked for payment. The son shared that his wife was a teacher, unemployed for almost two years. His parent was in fact helping to provide the roof over his and his wife's head. Son and wife did not have the resources to pay and wait for the estate. Without death certificates (which don't get ordered until the funeral is paid) to access his parent's funds, he could not pay the bill. Until he pays the bill, he won't gain access to the estate. He told me he would figure things out and get back to me.
Me, Too.
The business is in a Chicago suburb. The suburb was once working middle class but is now a suburb of affluence. I know first hand that many people (even those in affluent suburbs) are hit by the Great Depression of the 21st Century. One of the reasons I am so troubled by these two families is that in many ways I share their story of  financial woe and parental support. I walk in their shoes and don't have any great ideas on what to do if I had to plan a funeral for my wife (My mother preplanned and paid for her funeral).

In the end, both families were able to pay in full during the appropriate time frame. I have no idea what exchanges were made to find the necessary resources. I was relieved for them an myself, as well. I can hand my friend the keys to his business with no outstanding balances.
The New Year.
My plans for 2012 are to do the things necessary to not be in the same position as 2012 becomes 2013. I wish the same for the families I served these past two weeks and to every reader as well.

More importantly, I wish for the U.S. populace to work together for the same goal; people working at a job that can pay their bills. No politics, no finger pointing. We can all blame ourselves. Everyone has a share in this economic national disaster and everyone has responsibility to clean up this mess. When I write my end of 2012 post, I hope to have a different wish for 2013. Happy New Year.

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