The Good Funeral
Westminster John Knox Press
The co-authors’ ongoing correspondence and collaboration, presenting to hospice and clergy and funeral professionals across the country, has resulted in The Good Funeral: Death, Grief and the Community of Care, a book that looks from the inside out at a culture that has, according to Reverend Long, “lost it’s eschatological nerve” and gone, according to Lynch, “ritually astray.” This remarkably readable and insightful book suggests ways we might make our way back to funerals that “serve the living by caring for the dead,” and retrieve what is faithful and sublime from the marketplace of the silly and ridiculous.
The authors explore the dynamics of grief, ancient and postmodern funeral rites, the roots of current customs and the parts played by both the living and dead in this “sacred community theater.” They discuss funeral costs and the trend towards cremation and other methods of body disposition. They question both Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death and the funeral industry’s concentration on sales-ops and caskets rather than meaningful service. And they call, unambiguously, for a restoration of real worth to the funeral as a vehicle for the expression of faith and grief and community values.