There is so much good information here at the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) meeting! Let me share a few quotes and notes from Thomas Lynch, poet and undertaker, the keynote speaker at the start of the conference. He’s the author of The Undertaking and other stellar books. He had many wonderful comments on the arc of narrative regarding funerals.
On the essential elements of a funeral: “You need to have someone who’s stopped breathing… You need a body and someone to whom it matters.” You also need “someone to broker the peace, such as a priest, rabbi, imam, shaman, someone who says, ‘Behold, I show you a mystery.'” And of course, you need the people who care about the dead person.
He worked with Alan Ball, the producer of the HBO program “Six Feet Under,” who said to him, “Once you put a dead guy in the room, you can talk about anything.”
Lynch said, “Where death means nothing, life is meaningless… Our job is not to tell [the living] what to do, but to embolden, encourage them to do what they need to do — dig the dirt, shoulder the load, go the distance — to the hole in the ground or to the fire.”
“While the dead don’t care, the dead matter. They matter to the living.”