(220 comments, 1314 posts)
I'm a sixth generation funeral director. I have a grad degree in Missional Theology and a Certification in Thanatology.
And I like to read and write.
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Posts by Caleb Wilde
Last month we had a large service for Tommy, a 40-something father of two, brother of two, half-brother of three, step brother of one, son of two parents, and step-son of two step-parents. All loved him – his entire blended family and the 600-plus people who came to his memorial service.
After those 600 people expressed their condolences to the grieving and exhausted family, the service began. It’s become a good trend to allow a sharing time during the service, and this service was on trend. It gives family and friends the opportunity to eulogize (though often it devolves into an open mic to say whatever the hell you want about the deceased).
short little eulogies change the pace and welcome back the dead in both the audience and in the casket. At services like the one today, people have been waiting over four hours in the pews for the visitation to end. They are hungry, tired, and grieving, and a hot head blowing his air in the form of a sermon can put them in a daze faster than a punch to the face.
But these listless and lackluster mourners miraculously perked up when the family stepped up to the pulpit to share.
The deceased’s dad told the story, when — at the age of 10 — Tommy played hooky for a couple days. After Tommy’s dad got a call from the school principal, he hurried home to find his son fishing in a little thing “you could barely call a stream.” When he asked why Tommy had been skipping school, Tommy responded that he’d been getting picked on at school. Tommy’s dad did what any good dad does – he taught Tommy how to fight. Apparently, he taught him too well.
This theme of “Tommy was a fighter” found its way into each of the five spontaneous eulogies: Tommy liked to fight. Sometimes physically, but always figuratively. Tommy knew what he wanted and he’d fight for it. He’d fight for his family, for his friends and, even though he’d eventually lose, he fought for his life.
Over the years I’ve noticed something about fighters: they get the good funerals. Seriously. Fighters stand for something. Fighters value and believe in something. For every one enemy, they have five friends. People-pleasers, teacher’s pets, and “yes men” have the boring, we’re-all-here-because-we-have-to-be funerals. But fighters? They have friends till death and beyond. Their friends stand up and share crazy stories at the funeral.
Tommy’s friends will be there for his kids, supporting them with time and even money if needed. In a way, Tommy’s fighting spirit will live on in his friends and family.
There’s a simple recipe for a good funeral. It goes like this:
1. The deceased LOVED others.
2. The deceased FOUGHT for those she/he loved (I’m NOT talking about the fist to face type of fighting, I’m talking about the figurative passionate pursuit of something we love and value … the pursuit of which is often bereft with hardship and pain and struggle).
Fighting does something to us. The struggle does something to us. To borrow a line from Fight Club, “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”
Fighters know their limits. And they know what they value. And they know how much they’re willing to risk. They’re confident in who they are.
So, what do you fight for? And who do you love?
If you can answer those questions, let your funeral director know that when you die, she/he should be prepared for one helluva funeral.
All of these photos have been sourced from the inspiring facebook page, “Growing Bolder”. Here’s their mission statement: “We share the real stories of ordinary people who are living extraordinary lives and prove that it’s never too late to discover your purpose and passion; never too late to reinvent yourself, begin a new relationship, start a new business, learn a new skill or make a difference in your community. Our products are hope, inspiration and possibility. Our message is dream, believe and persist.”
2. Via Growing Bolder: After watching her husband, mother, father and mother-in-law suffer lingering deaths, 81-yea-old grandmother Joy Tompkins got ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ on her chest and ‘PTO’ (Please Turn Over) on her back.
Tompkins, who lives in Norfolk in the UK says, ‘I do not want to be half dead, I want to be fully dead. It might have been different when I was 51 but I am 81 now. Everybody has to die sometime but I do not want to end up as a vegetable. I am afraid that the medical profession will, with the best of medical intentions I hope, keep me alive when I don’t want to be alive. I don’t want to lie for hours, months or even years before dying. I don’t want my family to remember me as a lump.” —
3. From Imgur: “My grandma wanted to see the ocean one last time before checking into hospice. Her face says it all.”
4. “Everything can be completed in the comfort of your own home.” Hmmmm. This kind of sounds suspicious to me : /
5. Neil deGrasse Tyson dropping truth bombs.
6. Just when you thought Nicolas Cage was immortal, he goes out and buys a pyramid tombstone. Via Examiner
7. Kimberly shared this picture with me on my “Confessions of a Funeral Director” facebook wall. Keep it classy, Dignity. 8. This is actually a REALLY good deal.
12. This is me at the 2014 National Funeral Directors Association Convention in Nashville (I led a session on social media and transparency). Alkaline hydrolysis anyone?
That shiny thing behind me is a resomator. I know. You’re jealous. #nfda2014
This photos are sourced from a Buzz Feed article, but they are originally taken from the board exam manual, “Funeral Service Compend“.
6. I’m pretty sure C and D are kinda sorta the same thing? 7. Answers A, B and D come in a close second.
8. This question is probably the only question in the history of the world where “Necromania” is the right answer.