The blogger behind Confessions of a Funeral Director—what Time magazine called a "must read"—reflects on mortality and the powerful lessons death holds for every one of us in this compassionate and thoughtful spiritual memoir that combines the humor and insight of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes with the poignancy and brevity of When Breath Becomes Air.
Death. It happens to everyone, yet most of us don’t want to talk about this final chapter of existence. Sixth-generation funeral director Caleb Wilde intimately understands this reticence and fear. The son of an undertaker, he hesitated to embrace the legacy of running his family’s business. Yet he discovered that caring for the deceased and their loved ones profoundly changed his faith and his perspective on death—and life itself. "Yes, death can be bad. Yes, death can be negative," he acknowledges, "but it can also be beautiful. And that alternate narrative needs to be discussed."
In Confessions of a Funeral Director, he talks about his experiences and pushes back against the death-negative ethos of our culture, opening a thoughtful, poignant conversation to help us see the end of life in a positive and liberating way. In the wry, compassionate, and honest voice that has charmed his growing legions of blog readers, Wilde offers an intimate look inside his business, offering information on unspoken practices around death such as the embalming process, beautiful and memorable stories about families in the wake of death, and, most importantly, a fresh and wise perspective on how embracing death can allow us to embrace life.
Confessions of a Funeral Director is the story of one man learning how death illuminates and deepens the meaning of existence—insights that can help us all pursue and cherish full, rich lives.
About the Author
Caleb Wilde is a partner at his family’s business, Wilde Funeral Home, in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania. He writes the popular blog Confessions of a Funeral Director and recently completed postgraduate work at Winchester University, England, in the program, “Death, Religion and Culture.” He has been featured in top media outlets, including The Huntington Post, The Atlantic, and TIME magazine, and on NPR, NBC, and ABC’s 20/20.
"In Confessions of a Funeral Director, Wilde... tells the stories of memorable funerals that helped him arrive at the `spirituality of death' that he now embraces,... what it means to be `death positive'... and how he was able to start to find fulfillment as a funeral director." -- Vice
"A fascinating look into the funeral industry and a compelling reflection on what it means to be a living, breathing human." -- Religion News Service
"As a look behind the closed doors of the death industry, as well as a candid exploration of Wilde's own faith journey, this book is fascinating and compelling." -- National Catholic Reporter
"Caleb Wilde shows us how his faith was transformed and deepened as he allowed death to `quiet' his faith rather than trying to manage death through his religious anxiety. I never thought of a funeral home as sacred space, but I do now. And I'm glad for it." -- Peter Enns, author of The Bible Tells Me So and The Sin of Certainty
With this stunner of a debut, Caleb Wilde sets himself apart as one of the most gifted storytellers of a generation. Wise, vulnerable, and surprisingly relatable, this book is funny in all the right places and enormously helpful throughout. It will change how you think about death. -- Rachel Held Evans, author of Searching for Sunday
"Wilde not only helps us rethink our fears and misgivings about death and dying, he empowers us to embrace the end of life fully alive. Confessions of a Funeral Director will make you laugh, cry, cringe, and it might just change everything you believe to be true about death." -- Matthew Paul Turner, author of Churched and When God Made You
"To a culture long estranged from its dead, Caleb Wilde provides good guidance towards some rapprochement. By getting the dead where they need to go, a good funeral gets the living where they need to be. Here is good orderly direction towards those ends." -- Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking
"With wit and warmth, Wilde breaks open the mysteries of funeral directing, allowing a glimpse into that unseen world of chemicals and coffins. Wilde teaches how to cherish the beauty in mourning and honor the deaths. His words guide us past the denials, and lead us to embrace life." -- Carol Howard Merritt, author of Healing Spiritual Wounds
"Caleb Wilde offers a reframing of death that is so badly needed in the world today- one that takes a narrative of loss, despair, and hopelessness, and helps us discover the hope we have been so desperately craving." -- Benjamin L. Corey, author of Unafraid
"Confessions of a Funeral Director is deep. It's also thoughtful. And refreshing." -- Quad City Times