Confessions of a Funeral Director is a memoir by Caleb Wilde and it’s a heavy read. Caleb’s family have run a funeral home for many generations in Parkesburg, which is a small town in Pennsylvania. Their domestic home and the funeral home are one establishment, which meant Caleb grew up around death and dying. By the time he was a teenager, living in this environment, was having a negative effect on his mental health.
After finishing school, he left home and tried other jobs but eventually came back to work in the family business. He decided if this was going to be his career he needed to move away from the “negative death narrative,” that had been part of his childhood and find a more positive narrative. While he found some answers in his family’s Christian faith, at other times he felt Christians were inclined to take an escapist view. He felt that since death was part of life, there must be a way of developing a more authentic and healthy perspective. Eventually, he wrote ten “confessions” that helped him come to a more positive place in his understanding. He expands on these during the book and they are summarised at the end. Some of these I found helpful, others not so much.
The book is very honest about the day-to-day affairs of a funeral home and at times, the book is quite confronting. Caleb is also honest about his emotions and how draining funeral work can be. The book finishes on a positive note as Caleb talks about his young son.
Overall the book was introspective and insightful.