The metanarrative that we’ve been given is that death is entirely negative. We use war metaphors to describe our personal “battles” with terminal sickness as though we believe death is an enemy that needs to be fought. With the “death as negative” story, it’s made it easier for us to abdicate our responsibilities to the dead and dying over to the “death and dying professionals”, who have been trained to care for, beautify and hide the horrors of it.

But, there’s another narrative about death … that death can be beautiful. Death can allow us to see our own mortality, realize our finitude and pursue a meaningful life. For the dying, death can be a release of a slowly deteriorating body. Times of death can allow us to hug our loved ones, allow us to cry with our family and friends and honor a life well lived. Embracing death can allow us to embrace life. And contemplating our mortality can allow us to pursue vitality.  And when we embrace death, maybe we can take back death care.

Yes, death can be bad. Yes, death can be negative. But it can also be beautiful. And that alternate narrative needs to be discussed.

Welcome to the conversation.

2014 TEDx Talk entitled “Embracing Death”


Graduate of Northampton Community College’s Funeral Service Program.

Licensed Funeral Director in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since 2007.

Bachelors Degree in Bible from Lancaster Bible College

Masters Degree in Theology from Biblical Seminary

Certificate of Thanatology from The Association for Death Education and Counseling

Currently a post grad student at The University of Winchester, completing the “Death, Religion and Culture” program.


ABC’s 20/20 Interview for Episode “True Confessions”.

NBC News Front page feature, “Funeral director Caleb Wilde is an undertaker for the overshare generation”

TIME Magazine online feature, “Confessions Of A Funeral Director’ is a Blog You Totally Must Read”

The Philadelphia Daily News front page feature, “Oversharing Undertaker Goes Viral.”

Religion News Service online feature, “Funeral director Caleb Wilde posts irreverent thoughts on death”  This article was picked up by the Washington Post.

Folha de S.Paulo, Brazilian Magazine Feature.

Why Life Insurance Really Matters in Erie Sense’s Magazine.

The American Funeral Director.  June, 2013.  “Funeral Blogger.”


The Atlantic: Quoted in “Burying Your Dead Without Religion”

ABC News:Quoted in “Dead People Get Life-Like Poses at Their Funerals

Forbes: Quoted in “Death of the Death Care Industry.

US News and World Report:  Quoted in “7 Ways to Help a Loved One Grieve”

Philadelphia Inquirer: Quotes in “Themed Funerals Reflect Boomer Generation.”

Huffington Post Live: Should Children go to Funerals?

Church Leaders Top 100 (Book).  “Why 99% of Pastors are Universalists … at Funerals?”


Interview on the Drew Marshall Show.

New York Public Radio’s “Sex, Death and Money” feature entitled: “A Funeral Director’s Dead Reckoning”

CBS Philly Feature and Interview “Chester County Funeral Director Uses Social Media To Encourage Conversations About Death”


Annual Editions: Death, Dying and Bereavement 14th Ed., 10 Burdens and Coping Mechanisms of Funeral Directors

Here are some of the featured posts I’ve written:

10 Reasons I’m a Funeral Director at Huffington Post.

How To Take A Funeral Selfie Without Being A Horrible Person at Talking Points Memo

Westboro Baptist and You at RELEVANT Magazine.

Why 99% of Pastors are Universalists at Funerals at Church Leaders.

Even Jesus Wept at RELEVANT Magazine (This post was the “most popular article” on RELEVANT.com in 2011).

5 Things Funeral Directors Wish Pastors Knew at Church Leaders

12 Things My Father Taught Me about Being a Funeral Director at funeralOne.

Confessions of a Funeral Director at Q.


  • I went to my dear Jewish friend’s funeral. Afterwards the ‘grave digger’ aked for a lift so I said sure….I never realised the shock it caused amongst the Jewish mourners that I dare give an ‘unclean man’ a lift. To make it worse I had a Jesus sticker on the back of my car……but the deceaseds sister in law said it left a many thinking…..


  • Ok, MAN, am I thrilled to read your blog, Caleb. As far as I can tell, this is a missional alternative to 6 Feet Under – and yikes, is that a good show. 🙂 God has seen you and placed a heavy calling on your shoulders – to be face to face with death and sadness on a daily basis is a rocky way through the world. You offer us your insight and your experience as a man with the gift of life in the midst of the full weight of death – I look forward to seeing Life through your perspective. God bless you and multiply your words here and beyond. I will definitely buy your book! 🙂


  • Mindy Olseski

    It’s a “dirty job,” but someone’s got to do it! Thank goodness that someone IS doing it for a living! I’ve always been very curious about all that goes on “behind the scenes” and the interesting experiences that someone of the profession has had.


  • I found my way to your blog through a circuitous, 6-degrees-of-wikipedia-esque route. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read, and imagine my surprise when I realized you were the same author of the fantastic “Even Jesus Wept” article in Relevant last month! Keep up the excellent writing.


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  • Kevin Miller

    Hi Caleb: Just stumbled across your blog today while researching Ernest Becker’s take on the Fall of Man. Great stuff. I became a huge fan of Becker last summer while reading “The Denial of Death.” You have some great insights here. I just linked to one of your posts on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HellboundtheMovie


  • Katie Keichline

    I would love to leave you messages but alas it seems you have to have a facebook account to do so and as mine was jeopardized I cancelled


  • Caleb, You came to mind today as I thought about Newtown, and how in the heaven’s name an entire small community deals with the death of so many (including an astounding number of children) at once. Even just logistically, not to mention emotionally and spiritually. I’m sure you’ll comment on it soon. We would all appreciate your insights.


  • Al Baker

    My apologies for sending my comment like this, but I cannot find an e-mail address. Comment regarding the graphic of Athanasius and the appellation, “the Black Dwarf.”

    This nickname has no record in the historical documents. The nickname seems to have gained popularity with Dr. Justo Gonzalez. He made a mistake and has admitted it. He states that the reference will either be removed or edited out in the new edition of his text. Due to his error and dozens of other well-meaning people using his reference, this nickname for Athanasius has now been spread all over the place. Now we must try to help African-Americans realize that Athanasius was most likely NOT black – this is not going to be easy for some. You can read some research on this topic here:


    Al Baker, Ph.D.



  • TerriLynn
  • Never underestimate the power of a written letter. About 7 years ago, while working as a funeral director in Iron River, MI, I had the opportunity to meet a gentleman from Manitowoc, Wisconsin at a sportsmen’s dinner at a local recreational camp. We sat across from each other during the dinner and program and had a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other. Two days later he died unexpectedly at his hunting camp and we were called to take care of the local arrangements. His services were held in Wisconsin and I never did meet his wife. I had sent her a letter expressing my sympathy and shared with her how much I had enjoyed getting to know her husband. Yesterday she called me on the phone…it was the first time I had ever spoken to her. She periodically reads the letter and yesterday felt it was important to call and tell me how much that letter has meant to her. She was able to find out where I was now living and working after retiring from funeral service, and contacted me at my office. We had a most enjoyable conversation and I was truly moved to think that after all of these years that letter still held such importance to her. While we can find the use of social and electronic media to be a real time saver and easy way to communicate, never underestimate the power of a written letter.


  • Helen Chappell

    Hey! I grew up in Kennett Square! Love your blog. I worked briefly at Worrall Funeral Home in Kennett back in hs in the 60’s. Did flowers, grunt work, whatever one summer. For a doctor’s daughter, it seemed logical. Thank you for this work, If this is your ministry, you’ve chosen well. Thank you


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  • Antz Interactives

    Today the latest Christian app for Android was launched.

    It’s about Bible Mezzenger, which generates “personalized” Bible verses on daily basis, that help people through the day.

    New compared to other apps, is that it generates Bible verses based on mood or situation.
    Verses that can help when experiencing feelings like, fear, loneliness, disappointment, sadness, jealousy, but also joy, love, courage and gratitude. But also Bible verses that can help in your business.

    You can save your favorite verses on your smartphone or tablet. You can share them with your friends or social spots like Facebook and Twitter. Also you can Comment on them, and share with everybody or just your ffriends what this verse means for you.
    Unique is however the prayers and testimonies function in the Bible Mezzenger app.

    You can now share your prayers and testimonies with fellow Christians, or support and praise their prayers and testimonies.

    You can share or comment on them, anonymously or under your own name.

    With this Bible Mezzenger app, you can help others that need support. You can Invite friends and share, comment, support prayers and testimonies with them.

    Currently there is nothing like this app available, what makes this a unique app.
    Our main goal with this app is to reach young people who have no or little relationship with Jesus Christ, and help them by showing Jesus can help in any situation.

    For more info, you can check http://www.biblemezzenger.com.

    This app is developed by us:
    Antz Interactives Limited – http://www.antz.nl

    More about the app, you can find here http://www.biblemezzenger.com

    You can download the app here:

    If you need more info, then please contact us.

    We would be very thankful if you would give this subject some attention by placing or share this on your site, blog or social spot.
    Kind regards,
    Roy Berg


  • Emily Frugalsworth

    I love your blog. I also enjoy reading your guest bloggers’ posts. I found your blog after reading about Kristian Anderson, a young father who died in ’12. I was curious about a funeral director’s perspective. I’m sure you heard about him – he was the guy who made that video for his wife and he was a Christian. I will tell my friends about your blog.


  • Candide Scaramouche

    Interesting stuff but I’ve got to say the history ‘facts’ can be pretty weak. Specific example, my first exposure to the blog was the guest post about ancient Egyptian chocolate cake. Unless time traveling aliens from the future showed up with it at funerals, then chocolate, like turkeys & potatoes, didn’t cross the atlantic in the pre-columbian era. Blatant factual errors make it more difficult to whole-heartedly believe in the rest of the posts.


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  • Myrmidon

    I had to laugh after reading an article about your site. The ‘ad placement’ is rather classic.


  • feekoningin
  • tinamc209

    I want to thank you for taking the time to blog, Instagram, Tumble, and FaceBook about your profession. My Sister, who is 17, will be attending the Cincinnati Collage of Mortuary Sciences in 2015 (she is getting some basics done on the Community Collage level first), and your blog and everything else that she and I follow have opened our Mothers eyes to see that is “normal” and a needed profession. Again, I want to thank you so very much.


  • Supa Trace

    Caleb; He made a good choice, choosing you!


  • porter_readrboard

    Caleb, I’m the founder/CEO of ReadrBoard.com. We enable readers to easily cast respectful reactions to any text, image, or video on a web page — allowing readers to point out which parts of your longform content really capture them.

    It’s a free tool. We’d love to chat about trying our service out with your community.

    porter at readrboard dot com


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  • queen

    when will you be putting out a book? I would love to own one! Your insights and humor in life as made things you post worth reading! I love it.


  • Joe


    My wife and I recently started The Orphan Aid Project, Inc. Our goal is to build a global fundraising network for Christian orphanages in need. Our first partnership is with Casa Bernabe in Guatemala. You can find out more about our mission and Casa Bernabe at http://www.theorphanaidproject.com

    I am curious- would you have any interest in featuring our project on your blog? We need help spreading the word about this worthy cause.


  • Ryan K.

    Hello Caleb, I am a licensed funeral director and emblamer in GA and really enjoy your blog. Just wanted to say thanks for not making our profession into a joke or something to take lightly. I honestly appreciate your outlookand opinions on what I have wanted to do since I was 12 years old. Best regards.


  • Ron Tavernier

    If you know any funeral directors interested in entering academia.


  • Just Me

    Do you know how awesome you are? I’m not i the funeral business even though I’ve planned may funerals for family members. The funeral director in our small town knows me by name now. My adult son has always said if his current carrer doesn’t work out he’s going back to school to become a funeral director.

    I know people all think differently. I accept death as a part of life. It’s just something we all have to do at some point. I’m ready to go whenever my time comes. My elderly mother is so scared of everything she lives in a bubble and will probably live to be over 100 like her mother. I like enjoying life, and if I die in a plane or car crash so be it. I guess I don’t understand why people are so afraid of death. I would rather enjoy life while I can rather than be really old and unable to do anything fun.

    I’m curious about how others feel about that. Sure I miss my father and brother, but they did want they wanted to and enjoyed life. Mom is scared of everything. My opinion is quality of life is more important than quantity. I’m so glad my kids are open minded like that as well.

    My living will literally says that if I can no longer wipe my own butt it’s time to go. Thanks for the great posts, Caleb.


  • Darren Spiker

    At the age of 49, I’ve been to my share of funerals for sure. I am in a weird place in my life currently where I see the most painful deaths coming near and I am scared to …well,uh, death. I am a beleiver of God and am a longtime Presbyterian church member. I am in the grasp of a significant depression lately and this getting older thing has me overwealmed-embarrassingly. Great sadness overtakes me in thinking of the many ways the world is getting worse and I fear for my children’s future. I’ve been needing to say this and took the advantage of typing it here as I look into this blog and learn more ways to hopefully cope with the inevidables. If by some small chance you come by my words somehow, perhaps you could say a small prayer -cause I sure could use it.


  • Kandice

    Hello! I’m really enjoying your blog. I’m getting ready to go to school for mortuary science at Jeff State. I also have an interview for an apprenticeship at a local Funeral Home. If you have any advice I would be very happy to hear it. I just wanted to say I really love your blog and that I believe you show people a really good side of Funeral Directing.


  • Missy Bajorek

    Thanks for your informative and really inspiring blog. I added a link to your blog from my own new funeral industry blog, because it inspired me to start publishing. Take a look if you have time https://melissathemortician.wordpress.com/


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  • Gail Hawkins

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bcc7bc050142c703bc98732fedb1565921f33fc7e5365ae41a195e5e9d9a017b.jpg I NEED an attorney who sues funeral homes!

    Husband died Jan 2017 in Texas. We were married for 29 yrs. At time of death, his kids by previous marriage asked if their father could be buried in Oklahoma (that’s where they lived & where their father is from). I agreed. Once they got his body in okla., the funeral home NEVER returned any of my calls, nor did they answer any of my emails. Husband’s kids and his sisters (one of which WORKS for the Funeral Home) took over and did things their way, each day taking away my wishes of songs played, clothes that he wanted to be buried in, photos, …. never got the flower cards from people even when I asked the f.h. owner for them at the graveside. They said they would mail them, but I never got them. On the afternoon of the funeral, two of these relatives of my husband put a murder pic on fb, that said “Do you want me to kill them?” … the sister who works for the funeral home replied “Sure, go for it.” …. then one of of her nieces said “I’m on it.” …. Clearly they thought they could get by with leaving out all my wishes, which I was willing to share from the beginning with his children. I was lied to, taken advantage of and feel like my grieving time was taken away. They all ganged up on me …. and the funeral home took orders only from these people, my husbands relatives. After I never got the Death Certificates after about two months, I called the state of Texas. I found out that the mortuary co. (who picks up the body from the hospital) was in trouble for not reporting certain information to the state of Texas. Then, after talking with them, they said they had tried to get the funeral home to return their phone calls and the f.h. never did. I ended up getting the Death Certificates from that mortuary co., never getting them from the funeral home.

    I’m 68 by the way. I’m a caregiver of my WWII veteran dad, who is 97. That week my father overheard me and my brother talk about the murder thing …. and dad said “What’s this about a photo and murder?” I felt I had to tell him. He got highly agitated they were doing this to me.

    The funeral home is in oklahoma. But my husband lived and died in Texas.

    In my mind, the funeral home totally represented my husband’s awful family, and left me out in the cold. I had no time to grieve. Injustice.


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  • Jessie H. Watson

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