October 6, 2007

The Calling of a Funeral Director

Whenever I see a piece by Thomas Lynch, I know it's going to be great and I know I will to do a post about it.

I already have in Going the Distance and Death Lite.  A funeral director for 40 years, Lynch is also a poet, a writer whose work appears frequently in various publications.  He is the author of The Undertaking, a slim, wonderfully written  book about the 'dismal trade' that I heartedly recommend.

"The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade" (Thomas Lynch)

Now, in a piece about the calling of funeral directors, Lynch talks about his own, Faith 'profession' - Catholic funeral directors see role as bringing God to the grieving, honoring deceased.

..his calling was not to the priesthood, but to follow his father into funeral service. That calling came for his father when he was 12 and saw “two men in shirtsleeves” lift the body of an uncle – a young priest – from a table and place him into a casket  The symbolism of his father’s calling stayed with Lynch.  “You have to understand, that for most Catholics, the elevation of the dead body is the central metaphor of our liturgy,” he said.
he is outspoken about the need for the bereaved to experience grief. The generation today bringing loved ones to funeral homes is the first generation, he said, that tries to get past grieving by not having a body at a funeral. He believes this carries the risk of spiritual and emotional peril.

Hat tip to The Deacon, a new blog I quite enjoy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at October 6, 2007 11:00 AM | Permalink