Confessions of a Funeral Director
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.

Confessions of a Funeral Director Details

TitleConfessions of a Funeral Director
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 26th, 2017
PublisherHarperOne
ISBN-139780062465245
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Death, Autobiography, Memoir

Confessions of a Funeral Director Review

  • Andi
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Ashley V
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    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!!!
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  • Evan Hershey
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Kitty
    January 1, 1970
    Caleb Wilde has grown up with the business of death. His parents were both children of independent funeral directors, and from their union came Caleb, who despite a healthy dollop of "What am I doing?" being yelled at him from the deepest recesses of his brain, followed the calling buried deep into his DNA and  joined the 'family' business. After baring his soul in a series of highly popular blog posts, Caleb has turned his hand to writing this wonderful book which looks at growing up surrounded Caleb Wilde has grown up with the business of death. His parents were both children of independent funeral directors, and from their union came Caleb, who despite a healthy dollop of "What am I doing?" being yelled at him from the deepest recesses of his brain, followed the calling buried deep into his DNA and  joined the 'family' business. After baring his soul in a series of highly popular blog posts, Caleb has turned his hand to writing this wonderful book which looks at growing up surrounded by the funeral business and those who carry out that often thankless task. His early upbringing in the funeral home is quite odd, definitely not something you'd expect to run into nowadays -  I mean how many children do you know that are faced with the concept and rituals of death from such a very early age? Thankfully Caleb's family are warm and supportive,  although even as a child he can't fail to see the immense pressure placed on his Parents and Grandparents as 'the' local Funeral Directors, and how that manifests itself through the rest of the family, for example - never having a proper holiday as children because someone has just died so you have to turn the car around and go home to deal with it. It's not a surprise that Caleb has faltered in his self-belief at times, and, as anyone in his situation would, has doubted whether or not he is meant to follow in the footsteps of his forefathers. His faith has been tested, his spirituality has demanded clarification and he has thankfully come out of it with a wonderful voice for sharing his thoughts, feelings and experiences. There's a very brave and wonderful section of the book devoted to Caleb's expanding family - I'll let you read it for yourself but it brought tears to my eyes by the time I'd finished. There's also a very important and challenging section about the grief process - passive and active remembrance,  and 'getting over' the loss of someone you loved. I read it and found myself thinking 'YES! - we do it all wrong!"  Just a couple of points to clarify - this isn't a 'warts and all' scandalous expose of funeral homes, this is an honest and truthful account of life in the job, accompanied with a real eye-opening dash of reality surrounding what an emotional and mental burden it can place upon a person, dealing with the end of life, and the effect it has on those involved, day in, day out. It's also important to note that although Caleb does talk about his belief, how it changes and reshapes, and how his faith is tested - he's not preachy. I am not religious, so it didn't resonate with me in the way it may do a believer, but even so I was intrigued, and quite fascinated to read and follow his thought processes.  He is a brave and genuine writer, writing with honesty and openness. This is a really unique piece of writing - death, spirituality & religion are not 'fun' subjects, but Caleb makes them approachable, interesting and most of all, touching. He asks important questions of both himself and life, and he makes you think about certain behaviours - both as a bereaved person and the professional dealing with that situation. Most importantly, there's a lesson in this book about living life to the best of your ability, being kind to people, and yourself. If you've ever wondered about the beauty that can be sought when the light of life goes out, the healing importance of ritual, and would like to encourage the normalisation of death and grieving, then you'll enjoy this book.  If you haven't, perhaps you should start?
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  • Nickie
    January 1, 1970
    I've been reading Caleb's blog for just several months, and I can honestly say he has changed the way I think about death -- and life. At first he made me laugh, then he made me ponder, and he even made me cry. This book brings together everything that endeared me to him in a broader, more passionate forum. From the way he speaks of those he's helped and the positive changes it's made in him, to how beautifully he talks about taking time for grief and acknowledging that it never fully goes away I've been reading Caleb's blog for just several months, and I can honestly say he has changed the way I think about death -- and life. At first he made me laugh, then he made me ponder, and he even made me cry. This book brings together everything that endeared me to him in a broader, more passionate forum. From the way he speaks of those he's helped and the positive changes it's made in him, to how beautifully he talks about taking time for grief and acknowledging that it never fully goes away (nor should it have to), and the hints of humor that made me laugh out loud: I truly do see the positive side of death now. It's one thing to understand the reality of what happens when you die in a physical sense (which is the morbid curiosity that led me down my own Death Journey this year), but it's a whole different aspect to see death as more than just a loss of life, to see beyond the surface; who better to learn these lessons from than someone whose life literally revolves around death? And please, if you're not a religious person, do not let that keep you from enjoying and learning from this book; yes Caleb speaks a lot about God, but there is a far greater story being told. (Though I quite enjoyed hearing all of his thoughts and feelings on God and Heaven, and as a Jew I loved his appreciation of our traditions.) And for his questioning of if he is meant to stay in this profession, I answer him with a resounding "yes"; I think he is exactly the kind of man we all need when we're in our darkest hours of grief, someone kind and thoughtful and also lighthearted in the best of ways, someone whose own doubts only further humanize him and make him a more competent funeral director. If I weren't over an hour away from the Wilde Funeral Home, I would absolutely turn to them when loss inevitably hits home. So, in conclusion, this book has meant something very special to me, and I hope it will mean the same to you. Enjoy it. Cry from it. Laugh from it. And most importantly, learn from it.
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  • John Paxton
    January 1, 1970
    Death becomes him. Meet Caleb Wilde, a sixth generation funeral director and his book that takes you from his early days of playing formalda-hyde and seek in the funeral home to becoming a near basket or, casket, case due to the demands of the role and how he emerged on the other side. Part memoir, and while more gracious than a polemic there's a definite viewpoint here on how we can, as a society, do death better and try not to mold grief into a one size fits all and done in a month affair.Whil Death becomes him. Meet Caleb Wilde, a sixth generation funeral director and his book that takes you from his early days of playing formalda-hyde and seek in the funeral home to becoming a near basket or, casket, case due to the demands of the role and how he emerged on the other side. Part memoir, and while more gracious than a polemic there's a definite viewpoint here on how we can, as a society, do death better and try not to mold grief into a one size fits all and done in a month affair.While there's an unavoidable discussion of what transpires inside a funeral home its matter of fact, it's way more reserved than books of the same genre and when it comes down to it, that's good because there's not a lot of variation there, interesting yes, in the context of his journey ,not so much. Where he's done a great job is relating the things that see, the reactions of those around the death of a loved,or not so loved, one and while I'm not prone to public tears it's hard to be a father and not get a little moist in the eye where children are involved, or a husband when a spouse is involved or a child when the parents are involved... oh hell just add on a few tissues. Don't get me wrong they are the good type of tears, it's not manipulative or maudlin and there's often beauty hidden within these stories and that's one of the central themes in within the book and one which he's accomplished fairly well. I'm far from being religious and having seen a couple of reviews that were not a fan of its appearance within the book. I didn't, find the references to his personal faith an impediment within the context of the book. E.G., I can separate out his experience and understanding of religion, which isn't remotely proselytizing, with the underlying message of the book.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Surrounded by death his entire life, Caleb Wilde learned how to embrace it. He takes you from his childhood to where he stands now, as an adult helping to run the family business. He questions God. His intentions, his path, everything. Instead of blindly falling in line, he asks questions and finds the answers within himself, the people around him, and death.Death has been made into a scary event. It doesn't have to be. Love and heaven are all around, even when there is death around us. Heaven i Surrounded by death his entire life, Caleb Wilde learned how to embrace it. He takes you from his childhood to where he stands now, as an adult helping to run the family business. He questions God. His intentions, his path, everything. Instead of blindly falling in line, he asks questions and finds the answers within himself, the people around him, and death.Death has been made into a scary event. It doesn't have to be. Love and heaven are all around, even when there is death around us. Heaven is born from death, it's in the love we feel for others who have passed and for those still alive. The people who die, their body is gone, but their spirit, their memory, their everything lives on in us. This is an amazing book. I wasn't sure what I was getting into with this book, but I'm glad I took the time to read it. The stories, the people, their voices. Caleb takes on a journey that we see, but from a different point of view. He is surrounded by death, he witnesses the miracles and the grief. Some of the stuff he says in the book will make you nod your head and agree with and some will make you tear up. It's a hard life, enveloped by death and grief. Things that will stick with me -To pick up on a popular office company slogan, hell is the "easy button" for behavioral control and it has too often been abused by religion. Hell, for most believers, is only reserved for the likes of Hitler, Joffrey Baratheon, and the Others, but hardly ever for their own.
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  • Chad
    January 1, 1970
    The Tender Sacred Beauty of DeathI would heartily recommend Caleb's book to anyone unafraid to find the tender, sacred beauty which can be found in death. No matter how we come to it, death is the great leveller, the one common denominator which comes to us all whether we would, or no. I have long believed that none of us truly lives until we come to the acceptance of own mortality. This is simply a stunning, beautiful book; both adroitly written, and profound in its earthy wisdom. So much so th The Tender Sacred Beauty of DeathI would heartily recommend Caleb's book to anyone unafraid to find the tender, sacred beauty which can be found in death. No matter how we come to it, death is the great leveller, the one common denominator which comes to us all whether we would, or no. I have long believed that none of us truly lives until we come to the acceptance of own mortality. This is simply a stunning, beautiful book; both adroitly written, and profound in its earthy wisdom. So much so that, when I started reading it on the train I missed two stops, having a quite a walk ahead of me. It's been a long time since a book has carried me into another place like that.It will carry you, too, if you'll open up and let it.
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  • Alyse Hudson
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully and simply written, this book examines the spirituality of death and how acceptance and death positivity lead to healthy grief and finding goodness in the midst of loss and suffering. The author uses poignant anecdotes to share his views on grieving and what it teaches us about life. I found myself laughing and crying at times as so much of the book articulates well my own experiences around death and grief. This book is a great read for anyone in the midst of grief or simply explori Beautifully and simply written, this book examines the spirituality of death and how acceptance and death positivity lead to healthy grief and finding goodness in the midst of loss and suffering. The author uses poignant anecdotes to share his views on grieving and what it teaches us about life. I found myself laughing and crying at times as so much of the book articulates well my own experiences around death and grief. This book is a great read for anyone in the midst of grief or simply exploring what "death positivity" means.
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  • Cindy Henning
    January 1, 1970
    This was a thought provoking book that will touch the core of those who read it. Caleb Wilde was able to touch on the same fears and thoughts that most people have about death and what happens afterwards. His book is easy to read and hard to put down, as he describes his own struggles with death and working in the funeral industry. You will laugh at some of his humorous moments and cry as you relate to some of the more personal stories. There are things to learn from this book in dealing with de This was a thought provoking book that will touch the core of those who read it. Caleb Wilde was able to touch on the same fears and thoughts that most people have about death and what happens afterwards. His book is easy to read and hard to put down, as he describes his own struggles with death and working in the funeral industry. You will laugh at some of his humorous moments and cry as you relate to some of the more personal stories. There are things to learn from this book in dealing with death that we could all use.
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  • Charlotte
    January 1, 1970
    I have followed this author on his blog for a few years. He has such a big heart for his work and his customers. Caleb is from a long line of funeral directors on both sides of his family but is never calloused or blase about the dead. He too had to struggle to develop his own beliefs and overcome society's negativity about death. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his growth and his personal struggles and how he came to be where he is today. I would hope that most funeral directors have his val I have followed this author on his blog for a few years. He has such a big heart for his work and his customers. Caleb is from a long line of funeral directors on both sides of his family but is never calloused or blase about the dead. He too had to struggle to develop his own beliefs and overcome society's negativity about death. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his growth and his personal struggles and how he came to be where he is today. I would hope that most funeral directors have his values and good sense in the way that they treat the dead. This is a beautiful book.
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  • Denise Henson
    January 1, 1970
    Having grown up the daughter of a funeral director, I thought I had seen and heard it all. Caleb's book is a thoughtful look into the industry. He examines facets of the funeral business that are not often discussed. Most importantly, Caleb thoughtfully examines the negative narrative that is associated with death. His insight and wisdom encourages the reader to see the beauty in death. Caleb's heart and humor make this book a must read.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I found the author's website a few years ago and immediately was hooked. His way of talking about one of the only certain things in life, with a little bit of humor and straight forwardness is extremely refreshing. This book shows that there is nothing to fear from death and to look beyond the immediate.
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  • Kaycie Means
    January 1, 1970
    I was looking for a little bit more...interesting material in this book. Maybe it is because I am a student in the industry already, coming from a family that hasn't been doing it before. I am not sure. I still recommend listening to it, or reading it, because I think it is a good read for people who are curious to a glimpse in the life of Funeral Directors and what all we do for families.
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  • Tonia
    January 1, 1970
    This book will appeal to a lot of people. As humans, I think we all have at least a mild interest in death and the whole process of dying. This is an honest and intriguing view into that world and the business of dying. The book reads as a personal memoir of one who works in the funeral business, and it is touching and poignant and relevant and inspiring. I think most people will get something out of reading this book.My only criticism, and it's a small one, is that as a non-Christian, there wer This book will appeal to a lot of people. As humans, I think we all have at least a mild interest in death and the whole process of dying. This is an honest and intriguing view into that world and the business of dying. The book reads as a personal memoir of one who works in the funeral business, and it is touching and poignant and relevant and inspiring. I think most people will get something out of reading this book.My only criticism, and it's a small one, is that as a non-Christian, there were times I felt alienated, as the book focuses on a Christian's perspective of death. Written as a memoir, I totally appreciate the author's journey of spirituality and I'm not bothered by that one bit. At the end, though, the author gives some advice to the readers and what they can learn from death. There is a mention of the Christian idea of Heaven/Eden, and I just felt that the advice could have been conveyed without using an exclusively Christian idea there. That being said, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of reading this great book.You should definitely read this book! Most readers will get something out of this, if only a closer look at a closely guarded concept and industry.
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  • Tracy
    January 1, 1970
    "Death and dying isn't something we can tame. We've tried to tame it through medical advancement, but as much as greater understanding might reduce our fear of it, and medical science staves it off, death and dying is wild."Wilde, through compelling narratives of his time in his family-run funeral home, connects life with death in enduring ways. His "Confessions" made me cry and laugh within moments of each other and his death-positive book will stick with me.
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