(220 comments, 1126 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.
Connect with my writing and book plans by "liking" me on facebook. And keep tabs with my blog via subscription or twitter.
Posts by Caleb Wilde
About a week ago I posted “Ten Things We Use When Embalming”. And just like previous posts that touch the sacred cow of embalming, I was burned (mostly by other funeral directors). Here’s an example:
I get it. I put myself out on facebook, twitter and my blog and not everyone will like me.
In addition to that remark, this last month has brought some disapproving assessments such as “You’re a disgrace to the funeral industry.”, “You should quit.”, “(your content) shouts inappropriate and trashy” and that I’m “completely nuts.” Because the value of the conversation about death and funerals outweighs the negative comments, I’m okay with the criticism. In fact, I welcome it, knowing that criticism and even hate are all apart of this important conversation.
But, if you’re gonna hate, let me help. Let me help by attempting to put your feelings into words. I think we can have a better conversation if you know WHY you hate me. So, here are ten:
One. I represent a rather avant-garde approach to death and funerals.
I like tradition. Most of us do. Tradition becomes a part of who we are. And when some young guy like me comes along and starts talking about and questioning a part of your tradition, it’s like I’m questioning and talking about you. It’s like I’m demeaning you and your tribe.
Two. I don’t treat death as sacred as you might like me to.
In my opinion, death and the funeral industry aren’t like the sacred Ark of the Covenant … something that can only be talked about and handled by the professionals … something that’s hidden behind layers of veils. I’ve removed the veil. I don’t treat it like it’s a distant abstraction. I think it’s real and near. I weave humor into it. I don’t think it’s only for the professionals. In fact, I think – in one way or another – we all have a right to talk about it. And yes, even Tweet about it.
Three. I’m a millennial. A “young person”. A part of the “net generation.”
I just make the millennial cut.
I do not see things in absolutes like you may. I see the world differently. I’m not looking for metanarratives; I don’t believe that one size fits all, and so I don’t believe one type of funeral ritual is good for all. I see multiple stories, many narratives and I realize that each narrative, each community is looking for something different in both life and death.
Four. I’m writing my blog for the “net generation.”
My generation isn’t interested in the funeral business as much as they’re interested in the people of the funeral business. I – my story, my narrative, my life, my thoughts – will be the foundation of my sustainability as a funeral director. Not necessarily marketing, the new “personalized” merchandise, the next great package or even an awesome webpage (my website looks as dated as a Nokia clam shell). My story — good and bad — will shape my future in this industry. And being able to tell that story in social media is the means to that end.
Five. I’m willing to be transparent.
Maybe even too transparent? Because I think transparency is akin to vulnerability. And vulnerability is one of the keys to connecting with people who breath the internet.
Six. I’m a bronie.
Just kidding. Okay, maybe I like My Little Ponies a tiny, tiny bit.
Seven. I like Mother Earth.
I don’t think that this world is something we should use and abuse because there’s another, better world in the life beyond. I don’t think earth is a playground that we can mess up because REAL life starts after this one. I believe this world is special … that we should treat it as such. And while I serve, honor and respect people who want embalming, I’m moving towards natural burial as a more environmentally friendly and psychologically healthy method of disposition.
Eight. I’m a heretic.
Yes, my desire to move away from industrialized funerals, including embalming, is considered heresy for some. You’re welcome to burn me on social media. Just don’t use real fire. Please. I have skins. I burns. It hurts.
Nine. It’s not just that I’m writing for the younger generation, it’s also that I’m young and I have a platform.
I’m not using my platform to “tell everyone how it SHOULD be done.” I’m sharing my thoughts and inviting a conversation. I want the conversation, even if it leads down a path I’m not comfortable with. Just so we’re clear. And yes, I’m young. I’m 33.
Ten. I like Nickelback, The Twilight Series and … I’m not a big fan of cats. Sorry.
World War II
Following the Nazi invasion of Poland in World War II, the New Cemetery was closed to outsiders and the Germans sold the most valuable stonework to local masons. Other headstones, as well as slabs, were turned into construction material and used for paving the supply road to the camp, including the courtyard of commandant Amon Göth, who is known for having insisted that the Jews pay for their own executions.Meanwhile, the old bones at the cemetery were often left uncovered and scattered around in what looked like an open-pit mine. Caretaker Pina Ladner, who used to live on premises, was sent to Płaszów beforehand, and shot.
Soon after the war ended, a local civil engineer identified only as Mr. Stendig, likely Jakub Stendig, a camp survivor,[note 1] recovered many tombstones from the Płaszów camp site, and arranged to have them reinstalled at the New Cemetery.
In 1957, the grounds were renovated with funds from the Joint Distribution Committee. After the collapse of communism on March 24, 1999, the cemetery, including the 1903 mortuary, were entered into the register of historical monuments of Kraków.
The New Jewish Cemetery features a renovated brick mortuary hall from 1903, as well as the postwar lapidary memorial fitted with old headstones and crowned with a block of black marble. The cemetery contains over 10,000 tombs, the oldest dating from 1809. There are many monuments commemorating the death of Jews killed during the Holocaust.