Essay2.3 | Grief | Funeral

Serra 1 Lauren Serra Professor Guest Eng 386 – 01 14 February 2012 Death: Life’s Teacher Not many businessmen

would be so inclined to writing in extreme detail about their job, especially if it were one that dealt with the dead day in and day out. Thomas Lynch is not one of those men. In The Undertaking: Life Studies of the Dismal Trade, Lynch writes about his mortuary trade but deviates into deeper, more sentimental ideas such as the meaning of life and death, society, graveside rituals, and grievance. He accomplishes this deviation through engaging in reflective consideration about death and life and personal narratives of his own life and trade, expressing it through knowledge and humor with a purposeful poetic fastidiousness. Death is, unquestionably, an intrinsic part of life. This is the premise from which Thomas Lynch predicates that it is the dead who teach the living. Lynch writes: They understood that the meaning of life is connected, inextricably, to the meaning of death; that mourning is a romance in reverse, and if you love, you grieve and there are no exceptions—only those who do it well and those who don’t (25). Lynch uses precise language to illuminate the idea that death is not an ending point but a process. The poetic syntax is intended to take the harshness out of the words surrounding death and illustrate that it is not something concrete. He emphasizes that the dead and dying are our societies steadfast teachers, teaching the significance of life and to live life with sense of passion. He challenges readers with the question, “Which undertaking is it then that does not seek to

working the back forty of the emotional register. now our society maintains a strong revulsion to the dead and the dying (31-41). however. Thomas Lynch is from a needle-in-the-haystack type of town. and the dead were laid out and waked in their own homes. he buries a few hundred people every year but through his essays readers are able to see that it is the life of those who are left behind that matters most in death. the clergy on the fear of God” (18). lawyers on crime. death and dying?” (xix). and death itself. Lynch highlights stories of many people and situations each of which provides thought-provoking convictions and propositions. though his bias is one to be expected. barely noticeable on the map but overflowing with quaint and delightful details paralleling the manner in which he describes that the dead are mundane. young people were married in the parlor. In those days. “Crapper.” considers the past in which babies were born in a room near the kitchen. Having grown up around the dead and inheriting the family business. people were familiar with the physical realities of life. In his delightful array of essays that are entwined with both the eloquent writings of a poet and the obtrusive truths of an undertaker. He embellishes on society views on suicide and homicide. He profoundly addresses the . In his little town. family relationships. Lynch continues to use this syntax to explain further that death is a part of life which he has learned through his experiences as an undertaker. One essay. Death is as much as part of everyone’s lives as the dead are for Lynch’s life.Serra 2 make sense of life and living. Lynch is a third generation undertaker—his preference over the title funeral director—at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home of Milford. our livelihood depending on the death of others in the way that medicos depends sickness. Michigan. his perspective on death is sometimes jaded. yet still so full of life. He explains the business as “… an odd arithmetic—a kind of family farm.

“The dead don’t care” (5). “We’re all complicit in the banishment of the dead to the peripheries. In an interview with producers from PBS Lynch divulges. and he will be grateful for those who can sit with him without telling him not to be sad" (14). Lynch continuously restates the importance that the funerals are not for the dead. are all for the living because they are the ones left to grieve. She writes. in the end. is forever timeless. that doesn’t like to be reminded of mortality.Serra 3 taboo topic of death in society and that it is no longer something people want to be a part of. in and of itself. The Undertaking. many of Lynch's observations are specific to his generation and the changes he's witnessed in how we approach living and dying: a renovated conception of death. Both are integrated to reveal that undertaking is more than just a job. His life. is commanded by poetry and mortality. they are for the living. It is a culture that’s based on convenience and cost efficiency. Lynch recollects through animated stories and poetic arrangement that death will forever be a part of life. belong to the living. fervently interwoven throughout his essays. etc. and it is grieving. just as our funerals do” (13). Elisabeth Kübler-Ross writes vividly about the seriousness of grieving and the process through which one travels after a death in her book On Grief and Grieving. and the memories of them. Lynch accounts throughout his essays that funerals. it is the living. “The meaning of our lives.” While the basic subject matter of his book. Lynch gracefully stresses the importance of maintaining ritual in dealing with our dead. it is the dead. is about . “"A mourner should be allowed to experience his sorrow. In order to surmount the grief which follows a death. Since this renovation. a practice that he insists is imperative to the healing of those that are left behind and meaningless to those that have moved on because. Coming from a man in the mortuary trade that deals with death on a day-to-day basis. it is life lessons. burials. death and life from death.

. “Go now. I think you are ready” (199). a quote directed to his family and his readers. Thus his concluding sentence is about exactly that.Serra 4 life. ready for life.

Thomas. New York: Scribner. New York.Serra 5 Works Cited Kübler-Ross. Web. Print. Lynch. "An Interview with Thomas Lynch.W. 10-20. On Grief and Grieving. 2005.. PBS. New York: W. Inc. Elisabeth. Thomas. WPBS-DT. . Norton & Company. 8 Feb." Frontline. Lynch. June 2006. 2012. 2009. xix-199. The Undertaking: Life Studies of the Dismal Trade. Interview. Print.

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