Hey everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve done this.
But there’s a blog you should all be reading. I mean it.
It’s been over a year since I’ve had a Q and A with a blogger that I want you to know. But Caleb Wilde will fill a very important niche in your blog reader: the guy-who-handles-dead-bodies-all-day-and-blogs-about-it niche.
Caleb is a funeral director, his blog, the appropriately titled Confessions of a Funeral Director is great, he’s starting to be featured around the ‘nets, and he has a book coming up.
So I had to jump on the Caleb Wilde bandwagon. We’re talking about dead bodies, conquering the world, and you’ll have the chance to answer the most morbid question ever on this blog.
How did you get into the business of directing funerals? For anyone out there who may be contemplating this career, do you have any advice for funeral noobs?
I’m a thoroughbred director. As far as I know, I’m the only one in existence. My mother’s family owned a funeral home and my dad’s family owned a competing funeral home, making them the Romeo and Juliet of the local funeral market. On my father’s side, I’m the sixth generation of funeral directors; and, on my mom’s side, I would’ve been the fifth generation of directors.
The funeral business is a calling of sorts, in-so-much as you’ll only make it if you’re in it to care for humanity. If you’re in it for the money or morbidity or hot bereaved spouses, look elsewhere.
As a funeral director, what’s your day to day like?
As a licensed funeral director, I handle and prepare the bodies. You may now wash your hands as my death cooties may have transferred from my computer screen to yours.
It’s like rhythmic chaos. Death itself is a lively bastard and keeps no schedule or pace. Be it in the middle of the night or Christmas morning, we’re always on call.
Christians are often looking for a really radical, flashy mission from God. Funeral directing isn’t at the top of any young Christian’s list of great things to do for God. What’s your mission is as a funeral director?
Nearly all kingdom ministry is local, even when we’re in a foreign country. All ministry is tedious and mundane. In fact, if you want to conquer the world, look for the local, the mundane, the hurt and the pain and you may find Jesus in those spaces, ready to work with you and through you. In fact, Jesus did it with just 12 guys.
In many ways, a funeral home is more intimately connected to the heartbeat of the local community than the local church. There’s a sense that you, as a funeral director, begin to carry the community’s grief; a task that is much in line with Jesus’ calling.
You know, people are crazy about being green, recycling, being sustainable, but most young people don’t have a plan for what they will do with their bodies when they are done with them. Do you think people should choose traditional burial, cremation, upright burial, donation, burial at sea, being shot into space? If we’re going to be “biblical” about burial, should we be “gathered with our fathers” in tombs, like they still do in Louisiana? I want to be cremated, and then be scattered from the roof of a tall building in the city, but I don’t think that’ll go over well with the people below thinking they are being attacked with anthrax.
Being scattered from a roof top is very incarnational … people would breathe you in from miles away. You would literally become a part of them. This gives a whole new perspective to “Go ye into all the world.”
In 2009, the cremation rate in Canada was 68.4% while the cremation rate in the U.S. was 36%. The U.S. cremation rate by 2025 will hit 58.9%. So, if cremation is unbiblical, I guess Canada’s going to hell and the U.S. is soon to follow.
Honestly, I don’t think there’s a biblical manner of disposition (burial), but I do think there are biblical principles for remembrance and grief share. The principles center around this idea: you can’t do death alone.
Churches are obsessed with that phrase “doing life together.” Maybe you could turn “doing death together” into a cool cliche.
People always have a story of a wedding crasher, or the best man making a drunken toast. But no one thinks about trying to not make an ass of themselves at a funeral. How do we make sure we aren’t “that guy” who spoils the big day for the dead person?
One of my most surprisingly popular blog posts dealt with what you shouldn’t and should say to grieving families. The general principles are as follows: be supportive, not a fixer; don’t tell people how they should feel; recognize the loss; don’t prescribe a time limit for grief; even though you may have experienced death, you don’t understand THEIR grief, so don’t say you understand. DO say that you love them; do be there for them on a consistent basis; do empathize with their feelings; and do cook them massive amounts of bacon.
What should a guy like me be doing to make sure I have an awesome funeral?
You should read my blog consistently and keep an eye out for my upcoming book that I hope to have published in the near future. And although I don’t think I can tell you how to have an awesome funeral, my experiences with Holy Saturday provide a perspective that few are willing and able to see.