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    Funeral Directors Tell What It's Really Like

    In 2003, I wrote my first book, Grave Undertakings, a memoir of my early career as a funeral director. At the time, there were few first-hand accounts of what it was like to work in the funeral business. Since that time, a number of my colleagues have followed suit. The following are some of my favorites in no particular order.

    1. The Greatest People I Never Knew / Via

    Concord, New Hampshire funeral director Eric Daniels writes warmly about some of the most memorable people he has served in death ---most of whom he had not met in life. Daniels explains how learning more about the lives of his thirteen subjects, who have all in their own quiet ways left a lasting legacy, has enriched his own life.

    2. When My Baba Died / Via

    Marjorie Kunch was 13 when her grandfather died, and his death would impact her eventual career choice. Recalling the proficiency and kindness of the funeral directors, Kunch eventually became a funeral director herself. But it was a second funeral, that of her grandmother, which turned Kunch into an author. Searching for a book to explain the rituals of the Orthodox church to her young children and finding none, Kunch wrote her own. This children's book is an excellent resource and a must have for every funeral director's library. It is also available in a Greek Orthodox version.

    3. From 'Hear' to Forever / Via

    Hearing impaired since birth, becoming a funeral director presented particular challenges for Danny Jefferson, But despite his disability, Jefferson not only went on to obtain his license, but also realized his dream of owning a funeral home. The unique challenges he faced in both his personal and professional life provided Jefferson with the spark to tell his story, along with co-author Raymond Reid, who came up with the book's title and created the cover. In 2018, Jefferson was named "Funeral Director of the Year" by his colleagues.

    4. Mortuary Confidential / Via

    Funeral directors across America share their experiences with authors Kenneth Mckenzie and Todd Harra. Within 50 chapters, with whimsical and provocative chapter headings such as: The Killer Customer, Buried in the Nude, and Men and Makeup, and Ever See a Dead man Move? The anecdotes run the gamut from funny to heartbreaking and are amix of. The athors in the preface we as a society must uphold a basc principle of humanity thesancity of life through reverence for th dead

    5. Mrs. Steffy: Our Mother, the Mortician / Via

    In this tribute book, the author writes about her beloved mother's place in funeral service at a time when women were truly a rarity. After the death of her husband, Florence Steffy is determined to continue providing funeral services to her friends and neighbors in their small Iowa community. Ignoring the naysayers, she attended mortuary school, and enlisted her four children to help out in whatwa a true family endeavor. The author, however, was a reluctant volunteer, and she is unabashed about her resistance to being part of the family business. It was her mother's strength and resilience which eventually changed her mind.

    6. Does This Mean You'll See Me Naked? / Via

    Believe it or not, this question has actually been asked of funeral directors time and again. And it is one, along with "Why would you want to hang out with dead people?" and "Six Feet Under--How real is it?" that Robert Webster answers. With a balance of humor and reverence, Webster, who has arranged more than 4,500 funerals in his almost 40 years as a funeral director, recounts some of his most memorable and unusual experiences.

    7. Mortician Diaries: The Dead-Honest Truth from a Life Spent With Death / Via

    June Nadler has spent a lifetime in funeral service. Her career began soon after WWII in a day and age when few women chose funeral directing as a career. Working primarily in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, at both small, family-owned and large corporate firms, Nadler strives to open a dialog on death. Revisiting the tragedies, and lives cut short, she witnessed throughout her long career Nadler writes eloquently about how the unspoken dreams, and fractured relationships of others changed the the way she looks at life.

    8. Over Our Dead Bodies / Via

    In this follow-up to Mortuary Confidential, the authors once again regale readers with stories only funeral directors can tell.

    9. Undertakings of an Undertaker: True Stories of Being Laid to Rest / Via

    In his almost 40 year career as a funeral director, Stanley Swan has dealt with the quiet deaths of his rural New York neighbors --where he has run a funeral home for more than 20 years--to the public tragedies that were 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. A graduate of Simmons Institute of Funeral Service, Swan shares several childhood experiences which he believes may have foreshadowed his career. In one reminiscence, he recounts how, at the age of eight, he tenderly cared for the remains of a dead sparrow. In another, Swan describes watching enrapt as the local undertaker conduct a burial in the town cemetery. "I could do this someday. I could be the one tucking the dead to rest," he thought.

    10. Days of Death - Nights of Service

    John "Mac" McCormick's career in funeral service was a long and illustrious one. For many years he contributed widely-read articles to industry publications about the lives and deaths of noted Americans. He also wrote extensively about his career as a funeral director in rural Pennsylvania. Compiling some of his best articles, and adding additional, never before published material, the now retired funeral director shares his devotion to the career he loved.

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