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The blogger behind Confessions of a Funeral Director—what Time magazine called a "must read"—reflects on mortality and the powerful lessons death holds for every one of us in this compassionate and thoughtful spiritual memoir that combines the humor and insight of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes with the poignancy and brevity of When Breath Becomes Air. Death. It happens to everyon The blogger behind Confessions of a Funeral Director—what Time magazine called a "must read"—reflects on mortality and the powerful lessons death holds for every one of us in this compassionate and thoughtful spiritual memoir that combines the humor and insight of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes with the poignancy and brevity of When Breath Becomes Air. Death. It happens to everyone, yet most of us don’t want to talk about this final chapter of existence. Sixth-generation funeral director Caleb Wilde intimately understands this reticence and fear. The son of an undertaker, he hesitated to embrace the legacy of running his family’s business. Yet he discovered that caring for the deceased and their loved ones profoundly changed his faith and his perspective on death—and life itself. "Yes, death can be bad. Yes, death can be negative," he acknowledges, "but it can also be beautiful. And that alternate narrative needs to be discussed." In Confessions of a Funeral Director, he talks about his experiences and pushes back against the death-negative ethos of our culture, opening a thoughtful, poignant conversation to help us see the end of life in a positive and liberating way. In the wry, compassionate, and honest voice that has charmed his growing legions of blog readers, Wilde offers an intimate look inside his business, offering information on unspoken practices around death such as the embalming process, beautiful and memorable stories about families in the wake of death, and, most importantly, a fresh and wise perspective on how embracing death can allow us to embrace life. Confessions of a Funeral Director is the story of one man learning how death illuminates and deepens the meaning of existence—insights that can help us all pursue and cherish full, rich lives.


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The blogger behind Confessions of a Funeral Director—what Time magazine called a "must read"—reflects on mortality and the powerful lessons death holds for every one of us in this compassionate and thoughtful spiritual memoir that combines the humor and insight of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes with the poignancy and brevity of When Breath Becomes Air. Death. It happens to everyon The blogger behind Confessions of a Funeral Director—what Time magazine called a "must read"—reflects on mortality and the powerful lessons death holds for every one of us in this compassionate and thoughtful spiritual memoir that combines the humor and insight of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes with the poignancy and brevity of When Breath Becomes Air. Death. It happens to everyone, yet most of us don’t want to talk about this final chapter of existence. Sixth-generation funeral director Caleb Wilde intimately understands this reticence and fear. The son of an undertaker, he hesitated to embrace the legacy of running his family’s business. Yet he discovered that caring for the deceased and their loved ones profoundly changed his faith and his perspective on death—and life itself. "Yes, death can be bad. Yes, death can be negative," he acknowledges, "but it can also be beautiful. And that alternate narrative needs to be discussed." In Confessions of a Funeral Director, he talks about his experiences and pushes back against the death-negative ethos of our culture, opening a thoughtful, poignant conversation to help us see the end of life in a positive and liberating way. In the wry, compassionate, and honest voice that has charmed his growing legions of blog readers, Wilde offers an intimate look inside his business, offering information on unspoken practices around death such as the embalming process, beautiful and memorable stories about families in the wake of death, and, most importantly, a fresh and wise perspective on how embracing death can allow us to embrace life. Confessions of a Funeral Director is the story of one man learning how death illuminates and deepens the meaning of existence—insights that can help us all pursue and cherish full, rich lives.

30 review for Confessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Teryn Rehberg

    While I understand that this book is his journey to finding a death positive narrative, I just wish I would have read the reviews. Way too much god and jesus in the book for the staunch athiest I am. Brings a new perspective, but had I read the reviews before I bought this book, I'd not have bought it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I’d been following this author for some time on social media when I heard he had written a book. Many of his blogs have been interesting and even humorous about his life in the family funeral business of three generations in a small town. The book is far deeper, more spiritual and insightful into his personal life than I thought it would be. There were many interesting stories along the way of the many different reactions to death and the funeral process in families and his part within it, the l I’d been following this author for some time on social media when I heard he had written a book. Many of his blogs have been interesting and even humorous about his life in the family funeral business of three generations in a small town. The book is far deeper, more spiritual and insightful into his personal life than I thought it would be. There were many interesting stories along the way of the many different reactions to death and the funeral process in families and his part within it, the lessons he learned along the way. Told with candor, humor, sensitivity and coming to his own reckoning, I enjoyed hearing his thoughts on life and death, finding beauty and sacredness in both.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lauder

    I despised it - I craved knowledge about death, about removals, about funerary tools, about funeral practices. Instead, I read some asshole’s memoir about his feelings on God, heaven, his family, his son - I mean, who cares?! His writing style was atrocious; he was too repetitive; he pissed me off! Skip this piece of trash - I can’t believe I wasted money on it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andi

    A powerful, positive, honest meditation on death . . . as someone who has found herself with death as her companion in a lot of ways in my life, I found this book to speak truth to my experience, to encourage me to embrace the way I don't always see death as an attack, and to honor my own grief. Highly recommend.

  5. 4 out of 5

    B Zimp

    I thought this would be more stories about learning and employing the funeral industry. Instead it was the author's spiritual journey in understanding his families business. Not really what I was looking for.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I am so happy to have the opportunity to review this book for the goodreads community! There is no one who won't be touched by death; their own, and the deaths of those they love. In the modern US, we place our elderly, sick, and dying in sterile, far-away places, where we have no concept of their experience, and also have no real experience with death on a personal level. Death feels like something that only happens to other people; not our friends, or our family, and certainly not to us! Well, as I am so happy to have the opportunity to review this book for the goodreads community! There is no one who won't be touched by death; their own, and the deaths of those they love. In the modern US, we place our elderly, sick, and dying in sterile, far-away places, where we have no concept of their experience, and also have no real experience with death on a personal level. Death feels like something that only happens to other people; not our friends, or our family, and certainly not to us! Well, as it happens, it does happen to 100% of us. Caleb Wilde shares his experiences with death in his debut book, and offers a perspective that I believe can be so useful, cathartic, or healing to so many people who struggle with their own ideas about death and dying. There are so many quotes I would love to point out, specifically, but as my copy was an advance review, I have agreed not to quote any of it until it can be checked against the published version. While modern humans do everything they can to avoid acknowledging death, including refusing to age, hiding their loved ones in nursing homes, and holding "Celebrations of Life" when people do the unthinkable and actually die, Wilde suggests to us another perspective. An opportunity to actually embrace the beauty in death. To discover that there is a "positive death narrative". The Death Saturday concept blew my mind. I won't ruin it for you. read it for yourself, and see if it isn't the most obvious thing that has ever eluded your consciousness. Thank you Caleb Wilde, for the opportunity to learn, grow, heal, and change the way I have always thought about death. Thank you for sharing the very real story of your experiences, and the amalgam of your collective experiences. I have already convinced my local library to order copies for our sharing network, and am working on being able to order copies to sell in my bookshop. I believe the world will be better for this book, and will do my level best to get the word out there!!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ashley V

    This poignant, thought-provoking memoir takes a look at life through the lense of death in a manner akin to something like Six Feet Under meets When Breath Becomes Air. It is a slow burn but I savoured every page.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    The writing is beautiful, sincere, and very human. Caleb Wilde, who like Caitlin Doughty is a young funeral director who is part of the "positive death" movement, recounts how he came into the family business, at first reluctantly and then embracing it. Each story he recounts is personal and meaningful. No matter how hard we try to ignore it, death is a part of life, something we see in each incident he recounts. I came away from this book appreciating how sacred both life and death are. Althoug The writing is beautiful, sincere, and very human. Caleb Wilde, who like Caitlin Doughty is a young funeral director who is part of the "positive death" movement, recounts how he came into the family business, at first reluctantly and then embracing it. Each story he recounts is personal and meaningful. No matter how hard we try to ignore it, death is a part of life, something we see in each incident he recounts. I came away from this book appreciating how sacred both life and death are. Although about death, this book is not depressing. Even the saddest stories here are beautiful.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eggbeater

    I thought this book was poorly set up. The writing structure didn't flow. Not only that, but the author was big on platitudes and cliches and seemed totally unaware of it. Heavy on religion, low on humor, the writing was flowery and not my cup of tea. However, if it helps anyone cope with their grief, then it is important. I personally hate-read this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Murilo

    Greek: Kronos and Kairos Hebrew: Tikkun olam Sympathy: you see someone stranded in a disgusting well and feel the urge to help. Empathy: you are on the well with that person. 1. Death negative narrative: let death show you the goodness in life. 2. Death cannot be tamed: can break us open or apart. Choose to let it break you open. 3. Death cannot be ignored: allow death to make you pause, reflect and meditate. 4. Afterlife: focusing on the good of the afterlife makes us ignore the good of life. 5. De Greek: Kronos and Kairos Hebrew: Tikkun olam Sympathy: you see someone stranded in a disgusting well and feel the urge to help. Empathy: you are on the well with that person. 1. Death negative narrative: let death show you the goodness in life. 2. Death cannot be tamed: can break us open or apart. Choose to let it break you open. 3. Death cannot be ignored: allow death to make you pause, reflect and meditate. 4. Afterlife: focusing on the good of the afterlife makes us ignore the good of life. 5. Death’s voice is silence: the more we can embrace, the more we can embrace death. 6. Death positive narrative: allows us to embrace our mortality by letting us learn, grow and overcome. 7. Commuity: death shows and strengthens us as a community/family. 8. Death is universal: lets us see and love others that we dislike. 9. There is no closure: invite the dead into our lives, they never really leave our hearts and lives. Practice active remembrance. 10. Embrace death: the key ingredient to a life well lived. The more we confront death, the more we can embrace life.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Kramer

    For honest reflections about death and grief, I often turn to Caleb Wilde. In his memoir Confessions Of A Funeral Director, Caleb’s honesty about his doubts and anxiety makes his insights that much more compelling. He suggests (and I agree) we adopt a death positive narrative and shows how society’s death negative narrative and the church’s heaven narrative actually hurt us and our ability to mourn. Through examples from his professional experience, as well as his own personal losses, Caleb illus For honest reflections about death and grief, I often turn to Caleb Wilde. In his memoir Confessions Of A Funeral Director, Caleb’s honesty about his doubts and anxiety makes his insights that much more compelling. He suggests (and I agree) we adopt a death positive narrative and shows how society’s death negative narrative and the church’s heaven narrative actually hurt us and our ability to mourn. Through examples from his professional experience, as well as his own personal losses, Caleb illustrates the importance of grieving well, as well as a healthier perspective about death and dying. One of my favorite stories was about Sam, an LGBTQ woman who attended a church where she was not allowed to become a member. Even though her sexuality meant she could not fully be a part of her church, she expressed wishes for her funeral to be there. The way the pastor and Sam's family, many of whom were not affirming, responded to this wish was incredibly moving. Caleb muses that death is the common denominator that helps us connect, even when we don't see eye to eye. It can bring us together or it can tear us apart. But when we allow it, death helps bridge our differences and reminds us that love is the reason for all things. This chapter might be the reason to read this book. We need to have more conversations like this. We need to talk about what really matters. We need to talk not only about the kind of life we want to have but the kind of death we want to have. This book is a great step in helping us have that conversation. I appreciated how Caleb covered many different kinds of loss, including infertility and adoption. He also emphasizes the importance of proximity and presence in times of loss, which might be the best takeaway anyone could receive. It's never about having the right thing to say but simply showing up and being there for one another. I can no longer remember how I first came across Caleb's blog several years ago but I do remember thinking two things: 1) this guy needs to write a book and 2) we need to be friends. While Caleb and I have yet to meet in person, we did become internet friends and so it was especially thrilling to finally read his book. I commend it to you. “Changing the world sometimes involves massive movements, but mostly it can be accomplished through small acts of presence, listening, and kindness.” p. 52  Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from HarperOne.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ray Stanley

    My first red light about the author's squishy, feel-good theology came early on in the book with a mention of evolution as matter-of-fact truth. Perhaps I should have stopped there. I plodded on and was even gleaning some thoughtful insights about how we look at the dead and dying, how we often miss out on being 'in the moment', etc. However, when the author took it upon himself to characterize loving, thoughtful God-fearing people as bigots and haters stuck in a moral time-warp regarding homose My first red light about the author's squishy, feel-good theology came early on in the book with a mention of evolution as matter-of-fact truth. Perhaps I should have stopped there. I plodded on and was even gleaning some thoughtful insights about how we look at the dead and dying, how we often miss out on being 'in the moment', etc. However, when the author took it upon himself to characterize loving, thoughtful God-fearing people as bigots and haters stuck in a moral time-warp regarding homosexuality I lost all interest. When anyone professes ignorance as to what the Bible (Jesus/God) has to say to us but claims the high moral ground on a topic I just have to shake my head. On whose authority? Your own? Society? If believing God's word makes me a bigot, racist, homophobe, name the hate-filled epithet, then I'll wear it proudly until he calls me home.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alise Chaffins

    Can you write a life-giving book about death? Perhaps not all are able to, but in his first book, Calve Wilde, a funeral director out of Pennsylvania certainly does. Having experienced my own losses, I found that the way Caleb writes about death and dying to be a comfort. He shares why we need to bring death closer, rather than pushing it away. To touch it, talk about it, learn to love it. This is a beautiful book, and one that is desperately needed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    Well, My goal was to finish this book this weekend and I just got it done under the wire - 4 minutes to spare! This book has amazing & profound insights & observations of life and death and our humanity. The author can’t help but take a spiritual journey given the topic. He also addresses the positive death narrative we need to take over America’s traditional negative narrative! If you’re human, you need to read this book! Well, My goal was to finish this book this weekend and I just got it done under the wire - 4 minutes to spare! This book has amazing & profound insights & observations of life and death and our humanity. The author can’t help but take a spiritual journey given the topic. He also addresses the positive death narrative we need to take over America’s traditional negative narrative! If you’re human, you need to read this book!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Colleenish

    This book made me feel a little judgy since the author is so close to my age and background. I found the chapter about the drug addict to be very moving. I would say that it was worth the read for just that story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kayo

    What a positive spin on death. Very impressed with the knowledge and compassion the author has. Nice read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Wilde has blogged for quite some time and as a reader of his blog I was thrilled to read his book. Wilde shares some insight into his family run funeral home (wish there were more of these still around) but most of the book is his own views on death and how that view has changed while working in the industry. Wilde promotes letting death break you open rather than breaking you and learning to view death as a part of life for everyone. Worth a read. "I should say they overlook Good Friday and Holy Wilde has blogged for quite some time and as a reader of his blog I was thrilled to read his book. Wilde shares some insight into his family run funeral home (wish there were more of these still around) but most of the book is his own views on death and how that view has changed while working in the industry. Wilde promotes letting death break you open rather than breaking you and learning to view death as a part of life for everyone. Worth a read. "I should say they overlook Good Friday and Holy Saturday because they know what happens on Easter. But skipping ahead to Easter might be what makes so many believers so unfamiliar with the pain, silence, and doubt of death. If there’s one reason why believers use comfort clichés—like “You’ll see him again someday,” “She’s in a better place,” “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle,” “Heaven will wipe away all your tears”—it’s because they’ve only read the resurrection chapter of the story, and they’ve used that chapter as a shield against the darkness of death and anxiety." "In their book, A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon write: “In a relationship, one mind revises the other; one heart changes its partner. . . . Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.”"

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

    Really 3.5 but worth rounding up to four stars. Although a short book at four audio hours, I felt it was more like a philosophy, sociology or anthropology work than a memoir. There are humorous asides, but overall it is fairly serious in tone, so much so that I switched part way through from audio to print edition so that I could skim parts of it. Especially I glad I did at the last chapter which totally did not interest me at all, but turned me off as I dislike a focus on folks who are having tr Really 3.5 but worth rounding up to four stars. Although a short book at four audio hours, I felt it was more like a philosophy, sociology or anthropology work than a memoir. There are humorous asides, but overall it is fairly serious in tone, so much so that I switched part way through from audio to print edition so that I could skim parts of it. Especially I glad I did at the last chapter which totally did not interest me at all, but turned me off as I dislike a focus on folks who are having trouble conceiving. I did read a review which said that the author should have read the book himself; after listening to him speak on YouTube videos, I am going to disagree, feeling that the professional narrator did a good job. There are a few humorous anecdotes in his story, but overall it is fairly serious, so potential readers should be prepared for that.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Wilde writes from the perspective of a funeral director in a small town in Pennsylvania. His father and grandfather are both in the business. And he knows almost every family that he serves when their loved one dies. Consequently, the stories have rich context. But his viewpoint has additional texture because he has an interest in religious studies and has done schooling in that area. His book is a mixture of anecdotes and philosophical / religious reflections on the way people respond to dying, Wilde writes from the perspective of a funeral director in a small town in Pennsylvania. His father and grandfather are both in the business. And he knows almost every family that he serves when their loved one dies. Consequently, the stories have rich context. But his viewpoint has additional texture because he has an interest in religious studies and has done schooling in that area. His book is a mixture of anecdotes and philosophical / religious reflections on the way people respond to dying, death, and grief. His chapters are short and inviting. He maintained a blog prior to publishing this books, and I am assuming that some of the content was created in that venue and then refashioned for book form.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Hildebrand

    Thank you Caleb Wilde for sharing this with the public. I couldn't help but compare this book with those of Caitlin Doughty, but soon realized that it was an apples & oranges thing. Caleb comes from a long line of undertakers who isn't afraid to share his hesitations in joining the family business. He addresses the way that people think about death & made me consider my own feelings towards that inevitability. Thought provoking, interesting read. Thank you Caleb Wilde for sharing this with the public. I couldn't help but compare this book with those of Caitlin Doughty, but soon realized that it was an apples & oranges thing. Caleb comes from a long line of undertakers who isn't afraid to share his hesitations in joining the family business. He addresses the way that people think about death & made me consider my own feelings towards that inevitability. Thought provoking, interesting read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    My Grandparents were funeral home directors and taught me so much about honor, respect, and etiquette around death and grieving. I have great respect for the profession. I had hoped this book would strike some familiar chords about growing up in that world, etc. There was a small amount of that, some lessons, and a lot of the author's thoughts on a lot of other things. The book felt like it needed an editor to sharpen the focus and reign in the author's many, varied thoughts.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ro

    I thought this would be more about the funeral director aspect and less philosophical. Shows I didn't really read the blurb before I started it, but it ended up being a thought-provoking book on death and religion.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lissa Leege

    I haven’t spent much time thinking about death as being anything but sad and negative, but this book really broadened my perspective. I found the writing a little awkward but appreciated the insight of one whose livelihood is the business of death.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    An honest and heartfelt story of Caleb Wilde, a fifth (and sixth) generation funeral director. I've followed Caleb's blog for a few years and find his reflections on grief, death and the funeral biz totally fascinating. Being in a similar profession ( dealing with death, funeral planning and grief) I appreciated his honesty and insights. We need to talk more about the cycle of life and it's conclusion at death. I have picked up many good points for helping my clients when dealing with the death o An honest and heartfelt story of Caleb Wilde, a fifth (and sixth) generation funeral director. I've followed Caleb's blog for a few years and find his reflections on grief, death and the funeral biz totally fascinating. Being in a similar profession ( dealing with death, funeral planning and grief) I appreciated his honesty and insights. We need to talk more about the cycle of life and it's conclusion at death. I have picked up many good points for helping my clients when dealing with the death of a family member or friend. A great read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karen Potts

    A moving, uplifting & even (oddly enough) charming account of this funeral director's journey to a deep & personal understanding of death, God & life. A book I'm glad I read. A moving, uplifting & even (oddly enough) charming account of this funeral director's journey to a deep & personal understanding of death, God & life. A book I'm glad I read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Excellent little read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Summer

    A beautiful meditative memoir that is not just about the beauty and good in death and dying, but celebrates the joy of living.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jill Vosberg

    I have never forgotten the first essay that I read about Caleb. It stuck with me and had me thinking weeks and months later. Since then, I found him on social media and was quite excited to read his book. I found this book to be an expanded view of the raw view into Caleb's journey of being a funeral director. With a book like this, it is hard to critique because here is the deal, it is his stories, his feelings and writing a book is by no means easy...and for all of that, I loved it. I found hi I have never forgotten the first essay that I read about Caleb. It stuck with me and had me thinking weeks and months later. Since then, I found him on social media and was quite excited to read his book. I found this book to be an expanded view of the raw view into Caleb's journey of being a funeral director. With a book like this, it is hard to critique because here is the deal, it is his stories, his feelings and writing a book is by no means easy...and for all of that, I loved it. I found his wrestlings through the complicated world of death in American culture to be authentic and heart felt. I am grateful for his words as they have expanded my own view and thoughts on death.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Evan Hershey

    A good read on good reads. This book was well written and funny at times but the real value it provides is a much needed culture shift in how we as Americans grieve.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Cann

    Caleb Wilde has written a very accessible, poignant short book on his life, mainly relying on his experience as the 6th generation funeral director of Wilde Funeral Home in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania. As a resident of Chester County in Pennsylvania myself, it was pretty cool to hear so many towns mentioned that I know of or live near myself. I enjoyed hearing about Caleb as a young man with desires to become a priest or evangelist in locations all over the world for people who otherwise would not Caleb Wilde has written a very accessible, poignant short book on his life, mainly relying on his experience as the 6th generation funeral director of Wilde Funeral Home in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania. As a resident of Chester County in Pennsylvania myself, it was pretty cool to hear so many towns mentioned that I know of or live near myself. I enjoyed hearing about Caleb as a young man with desires to become a priest or evangelist in locations all over the world for people who otherwise would not have access to the religion he wanted to share with people, as a way to serve people well outside of his family's business. When he went on a mission, the mission was to set up a "pop-up" medical clinic and treat as many people in the remote Madagascar village and surrounding area as possible, instead of the evangelizing he was hoping for--he had a great experience which did eventually lead him back to realizing there were all different ways to live a meaningful life and help people, including returning home to eventually become licensed as a funeral director. He had a deep-seated fear of the ever-present death he lived with throughout his childhood, with the kitchen in his family's home traditionally serving double duty as a family gathering place and an embalming place until they had another room built for that purpose. We saw straight into fascinating memories of frequently being warned about doing something improperly, that his father or grandfather had seen lead to the death of another child or young person--like when he rode in a car and was told to make sure the seat's headrest matched up with the height of his head to prevent a nasty death in a car accident due to insufficient head support, or when he rocked back in his chair at the dinner table, like so many kids do, until he was warned to put the chair back on its feet, as another death they had taken care of was due to a simple fall back from an unstable chair. Experiences like this made death an ever-present thing in his life, and after seeing a few too many tragic deaths--an infant choking on a candy wrapper careless left on the floor after a Christmas party and dying, a young man cut down early in life due to a motorcycle accident and how hard they worked to try to put his head back together after the crash to allow a viewing, but they couldn't get him looking "as normal" as they'd like, but the mother moved forward with an open casket at the viewing anyway, he had signed up to what he refers to as the "death negative narrative". But with other transcendent experiences, he was able to slowly move from that very common "death negative" viewpoint to a more "death positive narrative". He saw the death of a young man from an overdose and met his mother, who said she was sleeping the best she had in weeks, now that she had closure with her son and was no longer in a constant state of worry and anxiety over his life choices and safety. Another story about an adult woman with a disability (maybe down syndrome? I don't recall) who lived with her parents died in her sleep due to sleep apnea caused by asphyxiation, and her parents felt adrift without her and they set up a little shrine at her place at the dining room table and told Caleb all about the different objects there and their meaning. Their daughter was so kind that she changed her parents to be more kind and loving as well, and Caleb had rarely seen such a positive example of active remembrance of a loved one--this being such a healthy way to incorporate the dead into our day-to-day lives, as there really may never truly be closure after the death of a loved one. But that does not have to be a negative thing, as we remember our loved ones after they pass, they live on in us and in the love we share with the living. These experiences all deeply affected Caleb, and he has always had an especially tough time around the death of young children and infants, as he and his wife are infertile. They eventually got to a point in their relationship, and in his experience after rejoining the family business as a funeral director, where they felt they could be good parents, but could not have their own children. Instead, they were able to work with an adoption agency and a pregnant woman who had the son that became Caleb and Nic's son Jeremiah. There was a beautiful letter Caleb wrote to the mother of their child about how much they love, honor and appreciate her impossibly generous gift, and would teach Jeremiah to do the same. I would definitely recommend this book. I listened to it over a few days easily, as it was about 4 or 4 1/2 hours. A warning I'll give is that spirituality and a belief in God and a religious bent is definitely present, but I feel Caleb treats these subjects respectfully and has a healthy questioning of his beliefs throughout the book, and especially as he struggles to reconcile ideas of hell and heaven and a loving God, and struggled to see the beauty of this world in the now, in the present, and in death after as a result. In fact, near the beginning of the book, I thought he did not believe in God due to the way he talked about it. This struggle with reconciling his own personal religious beliefs with his experiences with death is a core thread throughout the book, but I enjoyed hearing the author work through these struggles, and never felt that he was proselytizing. A last vignette to leave you with--there was a nursing home who bucked the trend of most nursing homes and hospitals with a "back door policy" with dead bodies, hiding the dead bodies of residents and patients and sneaking them out to the waiting hearse or another similar vehicle with a big space in the back. Caleb always feels nervous and anxious in these situations, forced to feel shame with his role in the process. This one nursing home had a "front door policy" for their dead residents, with all the staff forming an honor guard along each wall to honor the resident who passed away and acknowledge them, at any time of day and night, for every resident who passed. This really touched Caleb's heart and my own. I definitely teared up a few times while listening to this book, especially when he talked about grief that frequently gets downplayed or ignored--like the grief of one miscarriage, or more, or the grief of infertility as a couple for the children that you cannot create. He says some beautiful things about grief, and it was interesting to hear him develop as a funeral director as more of a natural introvert who worked to be social and worked to find the right words for different grieving people, while his grandfather was social and magnanimous and always made friends easily, which was his gift. The conclusion of the book is that the more you embrace and lean into death, the more you can embrace and appreciate life. It is important to remember and reflect on this ourselves as death waits for us all, but it doesn't have to be a disconnected shameful thing, it can be beautiful, freeing, and transcendent, experienced together with the community of people around the dying or deceased person in their life and in their death. And there is nothing like death to remind you to live in the present, and forget the small annoyances, and live a meaningful life--whatever that means to you!

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