Do You Have A “Funeral Story?”

For the family who has suffered a loss, a funeral is a tragic and painful event.  However, for those who deal with funerals on a day to day basis, like any profession, there is humor in many of the events that transpire.  I was recently introduced to a book entitled, “Tales from Kentucky Funeral Homes” by Willian Lynwood Montell.  In this book, Montell collected and shared stories from funeral directors all over Kentucky.  Some of the stories are informative, relating how the practices of funerals have changed over the years, and some of the stories are humorous.  To my surprise, an incident involving one of the funerals I preached made the book.

Here’s an excerpt from the book as told by Follis Crow, the funeral director of Crow Funeral Home in Glasgow, KY:

“This is a funny story that happened to the minster not too long ago.  Sometimes ministers will ride in the hearse with me to the cemetery, but most times they’ll drive their own car.

This minister here in Glasgow, Steve Higginbotham, is a big tall fellow and a nice guy.  He got into the hearse with us, was sitting down, and as we pulled out he reached over his shoulder to grab the seat belt to put it on.  Well, in the funeral hearse there is a glass partition between the front part where the passengers ride and the back were the casket is.

When he reached over his shoulder to get the seat belt, he saw the reflection of his hand in the glass partition behind him.  He yelled and jerked back and jerked down like somebody was grabbing him.

That was one of the funniest things that ever happened, and he and I still get a kick out of what happened.  he thought somebody was back there getting ready to get him.”

What can I say?  I watched too many Boris Karloff and Vincent Price movies as a child.

Do you have any funny “Funeral Stories” to share?  If so, why don’t you share them in the comments section?

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Comments 8

  • Throughout the years, I’ve been asked to sing for scores of funerals. With my schedule, it’s often daunting to be able to get away from work at mid day, but it’s a service and it’s so appreciated by families. When we were still singing for funerals, I always ran by my closet to get one of my “funeral suits” and put it in the car. Usually, I made it about 10-15 minutes to the funeral home before the song service started. One particular day, I was running very late and ran into Crow’s with my suit over my shoulder straight to the women’s bathroom. I changed from my scrubs to the suit…..shirt first…..then suit coat….then looked at the hanger and it was empty. I’d forgotten the pants. With five minutes to go, I just pulled on my scrub bottoms and did what was necessary. Though I felt like a complete idiot, the family of the deceased still couldn’t thank me enough. Really and truly in that situation, it was definitely ONLY the thought that counted.

  • I’ll never forget the week when we had 4 funerals in a single week – all of them at Follis’ funeral home and they were his only 4 funerals that week. After the 4th funeral on Saturday, I was riding back from the cemetery in the hurse from an out-of-town graveside service and Follis and I were commenting about how tired we were and how busy the week had been. He answered his cell phone, had a brief conversation, and before he hung up, he cupped the phone and paused to ask me if it would be okay for the Baptists to borrow the funeral home on Monday.

    We laughed our way back to Glasgow together!

  • I loved the story Steve and also the ones by Melissa and Mark. Being in the funeral home business, I could add countless other humorous and not so funny antedotes. (People that run out of gas in the processional to the cemetery, drunk guy falling in grave, family breaking out in fight and cops called, etc.) I need to get the book for the other good stories!

  • I do not blame you, I think I would have jumped out of the car.

  • lol!!! I like reading your stories, daddy!

  • Mountain City, Tennesse is not known much but for the beauty of the surrounding mountains in the fall. Those hills and mountains provide a lot of “hill side” services, one in which nearly done me in. As custom would have it, the preacher always followed the herse, which is no problem if you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. It gets to be a serious problem if you had a 65 hp Yugo. I would never forget the day when we had to traverse this steep incline to get to the grave site. Half way up I had to down shift only to stall out. Panic set in as I was afraid I would roll back into the ensuing procession. Sheer terror struck as I tried not just twice but 4 times to get the thing going in the right direction. Finally, with smoke boiling out from under the hood from scorching the clutch I inched my way forward to the top of the hill. I got out, straightend out my tie as nothing happened and waiting for the old jalopy to bust forth in flames. It never did. I think it was still smoking 3 years later when I traded it in for a Plymouth.

  • I work at a funeral home. Calling hours were from 2 – 4 and 6 – 8. The WIFE showed up at 2:00 pm and blasted out at 4:00 pm. I thought it odd. At 6:00 I hear a big thump and people making a lot of noise. I thought someone passed out. Nope, it was the girlfriend of the deceased. She threw herself on the floor in front of the casket. You would think there be a bit of compassion for her. Nope. The family was cursing her and yelling “Get off the floor, you always do this!”.
    My job is the make sure that the funeral director knows what the family wants left in the casket before the lid is shut. The pall bearers are lined up and we’re ready head out and the funeral director calls me into the room. He asked me if I had dropped something into the casket. My heart dropped and I thought I made a big mistake. Oh no, someone had place a joint in the man’s fingers…in the correct position. And there was a brand new bottle of Vodka. We’re all trying not to laugh too loudly. So, yes our job is never boring.

  • When my Granny passes is was a sad day, we loved her very much. Pappy could not afford to put a marker on her grave. Pappy whom we also loved very much, passed away 10 years later. He wanted to be cremated. Once done, we couldn’t decide what to do next, so there Pappy sat in a cardboard box, on a shelf, at my home for a week until everyone decided. We took his ashes in a big shopping bag and spread them over Granny’s grave. Said a prayer then took the 10 minute walk to the other side of the graveyard to see our Grandfather’s grave. Did I mention it was a windy day, I think all of us took a little of Pappy home that day.

    Ten years later our grandmother passes. So off we go, three hour drive, to the same graveyard Granny, Pappy and grandfather were at. Only a few people attended, my grandmother was a mean spirited woman. The funeral guys stood to the side respectfully waiting. We had no pastor officiating so my aunt read a poem and sang. She is a little loopy, 60’s flower child, and none of could figure out what she was saying. Then my mother had us sing, none of us can sing, nor did we know the words of the song she picked. Long pause of silence. Then out of the blue my aunt and mother decide they want them to open the casket, mind you grandmother was not prepared for an open casket viewing. The funeral guys advise us not to, but go ahead at my aunt’s insistence. Lucky for us it opens away from us. My mom and aunt are looking at her and my mother yells at us to come on over and have a look saying she doesn’t look so bad. The funeral guys still stood there respectfully, but you could tell they were trying their hardest not to laugh. They finally closed it. This is where we were supposed to leave, but no, my mom and aunt insist that we need to stay until they lower the casket. The funeral guys just look at each other as to say ‘what do we do now’. They start lowering the casket and it tilts, we heard a big thump and my grandmother’s head hits the inside of the casket. Finally, mercifully we get to leave, it was then we noticed Granny’s headstone in the plot next to our grandmothers. My mom pointed out that they finally put a headstone on our Granny’s grave. My sister and I look at each other just then realizing 10 years earlier we had spread our Pappy’s ashes over the wrong grave. Rest in peace Pappy.

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