A Question From Selected's
Electronic Discussion Group
This seems to be bit of a crazy question, but I would like to know how other firms handle this situation. What do you do when the buyer/informant requests for certain people (ex-wives, troublemakers, etc.) not to attend any of the services? We have been telling our families it's a public place and we can not ask people to leave. I'm not sure if we are handling this properly. I don't feel like it should be the families agenda at a grieving time to handle this, but I also feel we would be stepping over the line and could lose potential families if we ask them to leave. Suggestions?
One way would be to ask for an attendance list of those permitted to attend, and that there would be an additional charge to hire a security firm type doorman to check the list and admit only those on the list. How would anyone know who those who would not be permitted to attend looked like, etc. Otherwise, ask the family to provide a relative(s) who would stay with the security guard and point out those not permitted inside. The key here is "Security Firm"...hire an outside security guard (doorman) and give him the responsibility, along with a relative of the deceased the charge to not admit certain people. Mortuary Management Magazine just had a back page article on this.
Legal counsel advised us several years ago that if it is a public announced service in a public facility, which your facility is, then anyone is allowed entry under normal circumstances. If however, it is a private service, by invitation only, then those not invited can be barred from entry. Perhaps Sarah (Selected's Legal Councel) can give an opinion.
I have found it easier to ask the family to have the troublesome individuals intercepted and have it explained that it is a funeral and not the time or place for vendettas or old grievances. If they can be civil, then they are welcome. If they can't live within those parameters then please leave. We have yet to have an issue.
Response 4 (from Selected's Legal Councel)
Hi all – I agree with Adam’s advice that a public service announced in the paper must be open to the public. I believe the options are making the service private, or having the family manage the issue as Rick suggests (a very good strategy). Of course, it is appropriate to usher out anyone actually being disruptive during the service as it would anywhere else, but barring attendance from a public service is not appropriate.
There is one exception – if the family seeks out and is granted a temporary restraining order from a court, it is possible to prohibit the person’s attendance. If the family presents you with such a restraining order, then make sure the police are notified/aware – so if the person shows up the police can/will remove them. But do NOT do this without a restraining order IN PLACE and IN WRITING, with a copy IN YOUR POSSESSION. Have the police remove the person if they show up, don’t do it yourself.
We have suggested to families that if there is someone they don't want to see, but the person wants to come, that there be an agreed-upon time (usually in the AM, before the service) when the family will not be present, and the "individual" can come for a short (15 min. or less?) visit...we do this whenever an imprisoned family member is brought by prison guards...only the guards and the prisoner are in the room...no family or friends.
We also suggest that the prisoner be brought into our building through a rear door, so that the prison vehicle is not seen from the street.