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September 24, 2007



There's a wonderful, comical, death/burial related story that I heard told by Sheila Kay Adams, an Appalachian musican, storyteller and novelist. It centers on a woman trying to get her dead (and heavy) husband suited up for his funeral. I think you can get a recording of it. It's a sweet portrayal of death in a social context.

Tullan Spitz

Reading this most current blog brought to mind The poet, essayist, and undertaker Thomas Lynch (ThomasLynch.com) who I encountered many years ago while an editor for Hippocrates, an erstwhile magazine for primary care physicians.

If memory serves me, we excerpted from Lynch's The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade, in which he states " Each year I bury a couple hundred of my townspeople." Because of his vocation as a funeral director (a business he grew up in) and his inclination as a writer, Lynch is affectingly honest about death, and what we do - or refuse to do - with/for our dead.

Thank you for the thought-provoking blog and excellent photos.


It's easy to see how burials and burial practices can become a tool not only for expressing grief or religious meaning, but also for conveying social and political messages about power and control, from Viking chieftain all the way to Gerald Ford's recent funeral. Not to mention Aunt Sadie in the birdbath.

Michael Edson

I remember hearing in an NPR piece that our modern American burial customs were established during the Civil War and influenced by the invention of embalming. Before that I think burial was much more a local/personal thing.

I have a friend at work who is trying to arrange for the burial of a family member and the funeral home won't cremate the body unless they get a signed/notarized consent from all direct relatives. Apparently they've been sued before when one group of relatives have had a body cremation over the wishes of other relatives. Everyone should have burial instructions along with their advanced medical directives, durable power of attorney for health care, and wills!

Beautiful pictures. It's almost like I was there ;)

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