Life doesn't stop being funny
when someone dies.
When I first began to write this book, I wanted it to be another ugly exposé of the death industry that, at the time, I perceived as unnecessary profiteering from human suffering. Try as I did to write that story, what ultimately appeared on the page was a real surprise.
Sometimes a family tragedy can be an impetus for good. Sadly, it wasn’t until after the death of my twenty-four year old brother that the real meaningful parts of this book fell into place. Thank you to each of my family members who lived those horrible days of grief, for you unknowingly helped give life and depth to the characters in this story.
To those inside the industry who opened their hearts to me, sharing stories of their lives, the idiosyncrasies of the people they worked with, and the indomitable spirits of the families they served - thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you “Auntie Kay” and your two elderly neighbors, and to everyone at the small hospital where I worked while in school - many of you inhabit characters in these pages. My deepest gratitude goes to my partner, Bill Walls, who brainstormed many of the story ideas and helped bring them to life as the first draft of this book poured out of me in 28 days during our five-year sailing adventure. We both laughed and cried at what appeared on the pages when, at times, it seemed to be coming through me more than from me. Most of all, thank you Rich Petersen for your relentless proof-reading and editing suggestions. This second edition has been made so much better because of you.
I will go to my own grave still a firm believer that the amount of money spent on a funeral has nothing to do with how much we loved or cherished someone. That said, I have the deepest respect for a select group of truly caring death professionals who are there with open arms when we need them. They spend their lives offering sincere compassion–not putting profit before service - to help us get through the worst moments in our lives.