The day after my Mother died, I called the Neptune Society to verify that they had picked up her body so that all the pre-planned arrangements could be put into effect.
My first question to the young lady that answered the phone was that she verify they had picked up my Mom from Memorial Hospital in Pembrooke Pines. I was passed to another young man who told me he did not know. When I told him he needed to find out, he said something about just getting to the office. He then placed me on hold. When he returned to the phone he told me that he had my mother’s file in his hand, and, yes, they had picked up Mom yesterday at 2:30 PM.
I told him that was not possible because Mom died at 4:30 PM. Without a hint of empathy for my situation, he insisted that, in the file, it said she was picked up at 2:30 PM. I suggested that perhaps he had the wrong file. He fumbled around for a moment, and then said he was reading a note in the file of a phone call from the hospital at 5:30 PM. He still could not give me the information that I was asking for.
I then asked about the Chapel. The young man on the phone said, “What Chapel”.
Two years prior to this day, a salesman came to my parents house. My parents, like so many elderly people, decided that it was time to make arrangements for their passing. They decided to be cremated, and liked the idea of their ashes going to sea. A commercial for the Neptune Society caught their eye.
Of course, what my parents were really looking for was peace of mind. They both wanted to know that, when that difficult day came, everything would be taken care of.
They were assured that all would go smoothly. Instead, it was a mess, and not one person that we came into contact with at the Neptune Society office showed an once of regret.
The young man on the phone told me that he would really need to call me back. When I hung up the phone I had to share with my grieving father that we did not know where Mom was, and that it looked as if we needed to start finding and planning where we would have her Memorial service.
My father decided to call the Neptune Society sales man that had come to their house two years prior. The sales man was apologetic to our circumstances, and said he would make a few phone calls, and call us right back. When he called back, he said that everything was fine, that they had Mom, and that yes, there was a “room” that we could use for the memorial service. The sales man suggested that we drive to the location, and look at it because it was small.
My sister and I drove my father to the Neptune Society to see the “Chapel”. When we arrived a girl behind the desk began to usher us into a room, and we told her that we were there to see the Chapel. She turned and said, “we don’t have anything to do with that, we do not have a chapel here”. Confused, we told her what the sales man had told us, and that the chapel was a part of my parents contract. After debating this for a moment, she said that they did do that in the past, but do not do “it” any more. She seemed to have an epiphany when we mentioned it being in our contract, and said that they did have a room. She then took us to a room that was obviously a conference room with a large conference table and about ten chairs. She told us that this was their “Chapel Room”.
We were then placed in a room to meet with the young man that I spoke with on the phone. He entered very matter of fact to explain the paperwork that needed to be filled out for the permits to cremate my Mom’s body. I interrupted and asked if he could please suggest a Chapel where we could arrange my Mother’s Memorial service. He said that they did not handle any of that, and he did not know of any.
He told my father that they would place a small obituary in the paper for my Mom. My father filled out, signed all the necessary papers, and we left.
For the remainder of that day, the day after my mother’s battle with cancer ended, we were left scrambling to find an appropriate place to hold a memorial service. During the brief time that we spent at the Neptune Society’s office we were told that Mom’s remains were in Lake Worth where the Neptune Society has a crematory. It was then explained to us that they were trying to open a facility locally, but that they had not obtained the permits yet. All of this information was overwhelming to us all, and did not help us in any way.
Also during that Neptune visit, we were subjected to over hearing a women in the back office loudly complaining about customers that were calling on the phone.
We were fortunate to find a Chapel through my Mother’s wonderful Hospice group. My father ended up paying an additional $600.00 so that my Mom would have the memorial, that he thought, was already arranged.
Later that day, we also found out that even with a pre-planned contract, we could have changed the arrangements the day after my Mom passed.
My parents trusted what they were told by the Neptune Society. I wonder how many other elderly people are sitting on a “contract” with this company and will ultimately have the horrible experience that we had. My parents purchased the contract two years before my Mother passed, never thinking that what they were told was not the entire truth. Instead, we were placed in a horrible situation at the worst and most vulnerable time of our lives.
My hope is that this information will get out, and that no other family will be placed in the same position that we were. This company should be investigated. The Neptune Society’s practices are negligent, and in my opinion, obscene. The “Package” my parents purchased included a series of services and items. People need to know that what we actually received through that contract was only the cremation. We were told that my Mom’s ashes would be put to sea, and that my father would receive a plaque stating her name, and the location where her ashes were dropped. Nothing else in the contract was given, no urn, and no Chapel for a memorial service. We discovered small print in the contract that stated that a Chapel is only provided where available; my parents were told that it was available in Pompano. The urn for my Mother’s ashes was quoted for $300.00 on the contract. Because we were not taking possession of her ashes, we were told that there was no need for an urn, and that her ashes would be taken to sea in a plastic container. My sister asked why my father would be paying for the $300.00 urn. We were told that it is simply part of the “package”.
It is so important to know the facts before the loss of a loved one. I learned through this experience that it is best to find a reputable funeral home and get the answers from them. A reputable funeral home can help you escape the neglectful practices of the Neptune Society. They can provide the same services, and for less money. They can handle all of the changes for you.
If my family would have known this the morning after my Mom died, we would have been able to place all the plans and arrangements in the capable hands of Barbara Falowski’s Funeral Services with a simple phone call. We would have avoided all the pain and confusion that the Neptune Society placed on us by their shabby, and unprofessional actions. We were under the wrong impression that my father had no choice because of his contract.
My mother received a beautiful memorial service because of Barbara Falowski. At one point during the service, a friend of my Mom’s handed me the obituary notice that the Neptune Society placed for my Mom. Through all of the tumult over the past few days, I had forgotten about it. I unfolded the small newspaper to read the obituary. It said:
Pearson-Weingarten Elizabeth, 67, of Sunrise, FL passed away on October 5, 2008.
Neptune Society Cremation.
I realized after looking through the obituaries that it is customary for the funeral homes to attach their name to the obituary. I just couldn’t help feeling that this was the last, in a series of wrongs, inflicted on my family. That my mother would leave this world advertising a company that so failed her is grotesque.
Please tell this story! It is so important!