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, Autobiography, Memoir, Death, Biography 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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  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Bethany Zimp
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Leigh Kramer
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Alise Chaffins
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Mel
    January 1, 1970
    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!
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  • Kayo
    January 1, 1970
    What a positive spin on death. Very impressed with the knowledge and compassion the author has. Nice read.
  • Cahleen Hudson
    January 1, 1970
    This was not what I thought it would be, but still good. Obviously I didn't really read the reviews before I started this or I would have known better, but I thought it would be a funeral director telling us of his adventures with the various funny and zany characters he came across in the business of undertaking. Why did I think a book about death would be like that? Blame it on my black sense of humor I guess. Instead this was a very thoughtful meditation on death. Caleb Wilde (who apparently This was not what I thought it would be, but still good. Obviously I didn't really read the reviews before I started this or I would have known better, but I thought it would be a funeral director telling us of his adventures with the various funny and zany characters he came across in the business of undertaking. Why did I think a book about death would be like that? Blame it on my black sense of humor I guess. Instead this was a very thoughtful meditation on death. Caleb Wilde (who apparently has a popular blog that I knew nothing about), does tell some wonderful stories and introduces us to the people they involve, but they're very poignant and lead to some big questions and pondering about death. The whole point of the book is Caleb's journey (he's a 5th generation undertaker) from holding a death-negative view to a death-positive view. Some have said that there are similarities to When Breath Becomes Air, which I did not like and DNF. However, the fact that all the thoughts and meditations were mixed in with some great stories about the people Caleb served made the book worthwhile to me. I recommend this if you're looking for a serious meditative book, not something where the guy who everybody thought was dead was actually just drunk and jumped up and scared everyone. Now I'm onto something a little more lighthearted.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Lucy
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Karen Potts
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Annette
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent little read.
  • Jill Vosberg
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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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.
  • Colleenish
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Teryn Rehberg
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • 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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  • Allen Madding
    January 1, 1970
    Sixth generation funeral director Caleb Wilde engages the negative narrative that we all seem to engage when we encounter death. Nursing home and hospitals hide the dead. Families pay professionals to whisk the dead from our sight. We use trite phrases like, "time can heal", "they're in a better place", "You need to move on", "its all gonna be OK", "You will move on", and "It will get better". But Wilde suggests that these worn out platitudes do little to comfort the grieving and by trying to ru Sixth generation funeral director Caleb Wilde engages the negative narrative that we all seem to engage when we encounter death. Nursing home and hospitals hide the dead. Families pay professionals to whisk the dead from our sight. We use trite phrases like, "time can heal", "they're in a better place", "You need to move on", "its all gonna be OK", "You will move on", and "It will get better". But Wilde suggests that these worn out platitudes do little to comfort the grieving and by trying to rush them through the grieving period, we do them a disservice.When the funeral industry tends to quickly swoop into a families home and load up the deceased and shuttle them out of sight to a funeral home for embalming and preparations for the funeral, Wilde discovers that the family is better served by being allowed to have time with the deceased. Time to kiss them on the cheek, time to tell them they love them, time to embrace the loss. Allowed the family unrushed time before the body is removed from their home provides the family the opportunity to have time and space for to address what they are feeling as opposed to being told to bottle it up and quiet their tears. For years nursing homes quickly shuttle the deceased to a secluded room near the back of the facility and have the funeral home enter through a back door and wheel the body out of site believing that a "back door policy" prevents residents from being reminded that death happens in their facility. In contrast, Wilde tells the story of a nursing home that shocked him when they informed him that they had a "front door policy". Once he had the body of the deceased on the stretcher, they provided him with an "honor quilt" the staff had made to signify wrapping the body in love and care. When he began to roll the stretcher from the nursing home room to the front door, the staff lined the hallway in honor and respect. By their actions of engaging death in a positive manner with respect and honor, the nursing home staff had reversed the negative narrative acknowledging death to be a natural progression of life and honoring the life of the deceased.I found the book to be enlightening, encouraging, and changed the way that I view death.I highly recommend this book for everyone as we all cope with the death of friends and loved ones, and learning a better way to engage death and finding hope through the process is helpful to us all.
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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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  • Sienna
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this very personal, vibrant exploration of our relationship with death. I kept thinking, 'what a lovely man,' as he laid out his doubts, resistance, & imperfections but kept his eyes & heart open to his community in their loves & losses. He writes of how inappropriate he feels at times for his role & I think what a gift to his community. I have been developing my death positive attitude (I think of it as death is life) & have been learning some of the same lessons: li I loved this very personal, vibrant exploration of our relationship with death. I kept thinking, 'what a lovely man,' as he laid out his doubts, resistance, & imperfections but kept his eyes & heart open to his community in their loves & losses. He writes of how inappropriate he feels at times for his role & I think what a gift to his community. I have been developing my death positive attitude (I think of it as death is life) & have been learning some of the same lessons: listen to the silence, active remembering, & presence in the here & now. All the stories shared in this book have helped me understand even more -- not so much the answers, but the questions. I was surprised by & fell immediately for his vulnerable god kneeling beside us in pain. I cherish his observations of grief as worship & the sacredness of dying. The only death I have so far been privileged to witness was one of the most perfect experiences I have ever had & I am grateful that I was surrounded by people who honoured it too. My deaths have brought me to the same conclusion, that we inhabit eachother, & I try to encourage that connection in life. I find my relationship with my dead absolutely continues to change me. Grief too makes everything more precious & beautiful. The recognition of disenfranchised grief made my heart hurt & cheer at the same time. There is so much life in the darkness we hide & deny. Wilde's ten confessions are wonderful advice. "Let us embrace death, realizing that the closer we become to our mortality, the more we confront death, the more we embrace life." Amen."...death sits at the heart of what it means to be human..." (p 37)"We picture death's hand as cold, capricious bone when it may be the hand of an expert clockmaker, able to turn and fix those intricate parts that still harbor a sense of Eden, where vulnerability is normal, and shame has little power. ... sometimes when it seems like everything is falling apart, we're actually coming together." (p 89)
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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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  • Jennafhur
    January 1, 1970
    "When hardship comes, some hearts are broken apart, and like pottery or glass, those hearts are difficult to put back together. But other hearts are broken open like a fist that opens itself to receive and give back, or like clay that adapts to pressure. Whereas death’s wildness can shatter the well-ordered, rigid life, it can open those who have learned to flow with the waves of life. The broken-open heart, the heart that has been molded by pain and suffering, knows to “be kind, for everyone yo "When hardship comes, some hearts are broken apart, and like pottery or glass, those hearts are difficult to put back together. But other hearts are broken open like a fist that opens itself to receive and give back, or like clay that adapts to pressure. Whereas death’s wildness can shatter the well-ordered, rigid life, it can open those who have learned to flow with the waves of life. The broken-open heart, the heart that has been molded by pain and suffering, knows to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” The broken-open heart has room for others’pain. It uses its own pain to find love for those we don’t like. The broken-open heart seeks to understand. It’s slow to take offense and quicker to forgive. The broken-open heart uses grace to build and bind the broken. It welcomes and includes the Other and the Outcast. Because it knows the pain, it knows the fight; it knows the wild. The broken-open heart, in many ways, is the heart of a child, the way to the kingdom. For me, confronting death—and all the questions that came with it—at a young age was the single-most difficult and the single-most beneficial influence in my life. We think children should be shielded from the difficulties and the void of death, but for me there was no better time for me to see. It wasn’t easy, especially when hell was mixed into the perspective on death. But, in prostrating me to the ground, death has allowed a view of earth and dirt, giving me a perspective I would have otherwise missed, ignored, and feared but where—surprisingly—I’ve found the seeds and basic elements of my humanity like empathy, selflessness, grace, and understanding."
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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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  • Shaun
    January 1, 1970
    The thing I noticed most with this book was Wilde's tendency to construct lists in his narrative. This is not to the detriment of his memoir, in fact, it reveals something greater about the memoir that I am unsure was intentional (not that intention is necessarily relevant, if it's there it is there). This book is a text that is meant to teach, the lists often come off like commandments, or bits of sermons. They reinforce some of the religiosity of the stories while also being demonstrative. A l The thing I noticed most with this book was Wilde's tendency to construct lists in his narrative. This is not to the detriment of his memoir, in fact, it reveals something greater about the memoir that I am unsure was intentional (not that intention is necessarily relevant, if it's there it is there). This book is a text that is meant to teach, the lists often come off like commandments, or bits of sermons. They reinforce some of the religiosity of the stories while also being demonstrative. A laudable thing, and something that really drove home the values that this book was trying to convey, even while it journeyed through the often tumultuous life of a funeral director.But enough about structure, what this memoir is really about, even above religion, death, and belief, is the everyday practice of love. This is not only the sexual sort of love, or even familial. Wilde presents death as a thing to be revered, something sacred which a community can come together over, instead of a nasty aspect of life that should be hidden. He emphasizes how often callousness and fear can and has seeped into his life, and how powerful it is to have moments of community surrounding death. There is hope and beauty in this book, even where their is pain and tragedy. Wilde shows the intermingling of raw beautiful emotion, and how people can come together even in the darkest of times. This memoir is wonderful, philosophical, and funny. A great read all around.
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  • Anna Glezina
    January 1, 1970
    I have contradictory opinions about this book. As many people already mentioned, there are too much God-talks. There is too much of personal. But because author brings it up, let me tell you: I found a bit unethical of author to adopt his child from the young mother who could not afford having a baby. It did not sound at all like she did not want him. Author mentions her age and "situation" - being dropped by baby's father and most likely having financial issues. And here comes our hero - blesse I have contradictory opinions about this book. As many people already mentioned, there are too much God-talks. There is too much of personal. But because author brings it up, let me tell you: I found a bit unethical of author to adopt his child from the young mother who could not afford having a baby. It did not sound at all like she did not want him. Author mentions her age and "situation" - being dropped by baby's father and most likely having financial issues. And here comes our hero - blessed to run his family business (when he is out of depressions) and therefore very financially stable. I (again, personally) would consider monthly donations and other kind of help for this family. If you really care about this baby and love him, you'd let him stay with his mother. Instead of giving her a nice pamphlet about how deeply you appreciate her "gift". Sorry, I see it more as a selfish act. Like "we wanted a baby no matter what other people are feeling and going through". Many statements in this book sound way too obvious - again, maybe it's just me, but I don't think that you should bury half of your city to understand that we need each other, that compassion is good, and that love is internal. I give it 3 stars because I think that other people may found it helpful. Plus 1 star because author is my "neighbor", I am from Maryland. ...And of course I got it from the library, I wouldn't buy it.
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  • Kathryn
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked it... and it got better as it went along. It is short, only 200 pages, and a quick read. The stories are moving as he relates different families and their losses. His journey as he matures into the role is interesting as well. I know many funeral directors consider this a calling, a time to help people through some of the most difficult times in their lives. Caleb Wilde sounds like one of these. For this experience at a nursing home alone, it was worth the read (compared to the us I really liked it... and it got better as it went along. It is short, only 200 pages, and a quick read. The stories are moving as he relates different families and their losses. His journey as he matures into the role is interesting as well. I know many funeral directors consider this a calling, a time to help people through some of the most difficult times in their lives. Caleb Wilde sounds like one of these. For this experience at a nursing home alone, it was worth the read (compared to the usual process of removing a body from a nursing home):"What followed next at Luther Acres was one of the most sacred acts I've seen in my short life. After I had finished transferring Mrs. Taylor onto my stretcher, the nurse pulled out a 'honor quilt' that the staff had made. She helped me drape the quilt over the stretcher, explaining that it signified wrapping the body in the love and care of the staff. Then she said, 'Wait here. I'll be right back.' After a couple minutes of waiting she finally came back. 'Okay,' she said. 'We do an honor walk here. Our staff forms a line along the walls of the nursing home, from here to the entrance,' she explained, 'You'll take Mrs. Taylor and just roll out to your van.'
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  • Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman
    January 1, 1970
    I bought this at a book signing Caleb was at. I went to support a local guy, a fellow Octorara graduate, and because I have been following his blog of the same name since early on. I have to admit, until I stumbled on his blog, I didn't really know Caleb. His parents, I knew. His grandfathers, I knew. I love his style of writing. In some aspects, it's like we're sitting down talking. In other aspects, I feel like I'm reading his journal. It fits as I read through stories of his own struggles as I bought this at a book signing Caleb was at. I went to support a local guy, a fellow Octorara graduate, and because I have been following his blog of the same name since early on. I have to admit, until I stumbled on his blog, I didn't really know Caleb. His parents, I knew. His grandfathers, I knew. I love his style of writing. In some aspects, it's like we're sitting down talking. In other aspects, I feel like I'm reading his journal. It fits as I read through stories of his own struggles as to if joining the family business was the right decision for him. His words gave me a mixed sense, I have to admit. There were some parts I cried, like the mother who sat holding her young cancer-afflicted child on her lap. There were some parts, I muttered in disbelief, like when he was called to remove a man in a seedy hotel and the police warned about needles all over. For better or worse, I had held on to his book for awhile before I actually sat down to read it. The night I picked it up was the night I came home from talking to his father about my Dad's final arrangements. His book made me appreciate the work and the mental anguish that funeral directors also go through on a daily basis.Thank you, Caleb.
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