Monday, October 22, 2007

Must-see TV for obit writers

Thomas Lynch, the Michigan funeral director and incredibly talented award-winning writer, will be featured on PBS' "Frontline" Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Here's part of the PBS press release. For the rest, click the next word:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007, on PBS (check local listings).

“Every year I bury a couple hundred of my townspeople.
Another two or three dozen I take to the crematory to be burned ...
I sell caskets, burial vaults, and urns for the ashes ... I am the only undertaker in this town.”
-- Thomas Lynch

Thomas Lynch, 58, is a writer and a poet. He's also a funeral director in a small town in central Michigan where he and his family have cared for the dead -- and the living -- for three generations. For the first time, Lynch agreed to allow cameras inside Lynch & Sons, giving FRONTLINE producers Miri Navasky and Karen O'Connor rare, behind-the-scenes access -- from funeral arrangements to the embalming room -- to the Lynches' world in The Undertaking, airing Tuesday, October 30, 2007, at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

In his critically acclaimed book, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade, excerpted in this film, Lynch chronicles a life spent in the presence of the dead.

"We have in some ways become estranged from death and the dead," Lynch believes. "We're among the first couple generations for whom the presence of the dead at their own funerals has become optional. And I see that as probably not good news for the culture at large."

The Lynch family believes that the rituals of a funeral are more than mere formalities. "Funerals are the way we close the gap between the death that happens and the death that matters," Lynch contends. "A good funeral gets the dead where they need to go and the living where they need to be."

. . . For Lynch and his family, their business has always been about more than just caring for the dead. "What I've written is that while the dead don't care, the dead matter," Lynch explains. "The dead matter to the living. In accompanying the dead, getting them where they need to go, we get where we need to be -- to the edge of that oblivion and then returned to life with the certain knowledge that life has changed."

No comments: