Monday, April 25, 2016

Masked Mom's Media Monday: The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade by Thomas Lynch

During the ten years I spent working at the flower shop, I spent quite a bit of time in and out of local funeral homes. Given our delivery schedules, I often had no contact at all with funeral home staff--I knew where to find the hidden keys and where to leave all the arrangements I had come to deliver. At first, I was ill at ease in the presence of the deceased, laid out in the often open casket, but it became such a commonplace part of my life at a certain point that I rarely gave it much thought after the first year or so.

When I did run into funeral home directors or staff, we were always polite and subdued except when we weren't. One funeral home director in particular had quite a sense of humor and would hide around corners or behind doors to jump out and startle me. A dicey proposition given that I startle ridiculously easy and was often carrying a hundred or more dollars worth of flowers--fortunately, I never flung any flowers in my frightened state and the director was always so boyishly pleased with himself, I couldn't help but laugh. Sometimes when Cranky Boss Lady or I ran into him at the grocery store or elsewhere around town and it had been a week or two since the last funeral, he would lean in and whisper, "Business has been really dead lately." 

So I wasn't completely surprised to find that Thomas Lynch, undertaker and author of The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade, had a sense of humor. I no longer remember how I came to read the book, which is a collection of essays, but I remember that once I started reading, I had a hard time putting it down. I know that, though it has been perhaps ten years since I read it, I've never forgotten it.

Lynch is a poet and author who also happens to be an undertaker. He writes with wit and wisdom about a subject that so many of us are afraid to really consider. With death as a topic, you might expect a heavy or even depressing book, but the essays in this collection are beautifully crafted ruminations on death that are somehow full of life. 

Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Profound.



U is for Undertakers

6 comments:

  1. Yes! Another one to add to my list!!! Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

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    1. It's a quick read--and so worth it. :)

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  2. Sounds like an intriguing read. I'm just as interested, though, in how you manged to get through it all without being attacked by zombies. I hear they like flowers.

    @IsaLeeWolf
    A Bit to Read

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    1. I'm sure there were way more close calls than I was ever aware of. ;)

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  3. I wonder what it must be like for people in the undertaking funeral business. Makes me think of the HBO show Six Feet Under. The book sounds interesting.

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    1. It is hard to imagine doing that particular job. The local man I mentioned above and his business partner inherited the funeral home from their fathers who were also partners. Though they both have four or more children, no one in the next generation is willing to go into the family business.

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