71 books like Funeral Customs

By Bertram Puckle,

Here are 71 books that Funeral Customs fans have personally recommended if you like Funeral Customs. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade

Todd Harra Author Of Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt

From my list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in the funeral profession my entire professional career, and my family has deep roots in the profession too. My great-great-great grandfather was a cabinet maker, or “tradesman undertaker” in rural Milford, Delaware prior to the Civil War. In addition to being a funeral director and embalmer, I’m a certified post-mortem reconstructionist and cremationist, and the president of the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association. I’ve written five books on the subject of the funeral profession and am an associate editor for Southern Calls, “The Journal of the Funeral Profession.”

Todd's book list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak

Todd Harra Why did Todd love this book?

Thomas Lynch does a masterful job in The Undertaking offering a behind-the-scenes look at the funeral profession. Using beautiful, lyrical prose to present a topic (i.e., death) that is often ugly and hard to stomach, and rears its head at the most inopportune times, Lynch offers an unflinching look at what he calls the dismal trade. His deep connection with death and dying translates to the reader not only feeling connected with the subject matter, but empowering the reader to connect with the next death event in their life. Take it from me, someone in the profession, this book is as authentic as they come. A must-read. 

By Thomas Lynch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Undertaking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Every year I bury a couple hundred of my townspeople." So opens this singular and wise testimony. Like all poets, inspired by death, Thomas Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or to cremate them and to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director.

In the conduct of these duties he has kept his eyes open, his ear tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve pieces his is the voice of both witness and functionary. Here, Lynch, poet to the dying, names the…


Book cover of Confessions of a Funeral Director: How Death Saved My Life

Todd Harra Author Of Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt

From my list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in the funeral profession my entire professional career, and my family has deep roots in the profession too. My great-great-great grandfather was a cabinet maker, or “tradesman undertaker” in rural Milford, Delaware prior to the Civil War. In addition to being a funeral director and embalmer, I’m a certified post-mortem reconstructionist and cremationist, and the president of the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association. I’ve written five books on the subject of the funeral profession and am an associate editor for Southern Calls, “The Journal of the Funeral Profession.”

Todd's book list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak

Todd Harra Why did Todd love this book?

You might recognize Caleb Wilde from his prolific social media presence. And while Wilde’s funeral home is only about an hour from mine, that has nothing to do with the recommendation. What appealed to me about Confessions is Wilde’s naked honesty about the pervasiveness of death that many of us who work in the profession feel. Confessions is introspective, and at times funny, but my main takeaway is Wilde’s attempt to foster a more death-positive attitude with his text. Sure death is sad, and at times tragic, but there are life lessons to be learned and it doesn’t have to be a taboo subject in our culture.

By Caleb Wilde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Confessions of a Funeral Director as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I tremble to say there's good in death, because I've looked in the eyes of the grieving mother and I've seen the heartbreak of the stricken widow, but I've also seen something more in death, something good. Death's hands aren't all bony and cold."-from Confessions of a Funeral Director

We are a people who deeply fear death. While humans are biologically wired to evade death for as long as possible, we have become too adept at hiding from it, vilifying it, and-when it can be avoided no longer-letting the professionals take over.

Sixth-generation funeral director Caleb Wilde understands this reticence…


Book cover of Soldier Dead: How We Recover, Identify, Bury, & Honor Our Military Fallen

Todd Harra Author Of Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt

From my list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in the funeral profession my entire professional career, and my family has deep roots in the profession too. My great-great-great grandfather was a cabinet maker, or “tradesman undertaker” in rural Milford, Delaware prior to the Civil War. In addition to being a funeral director and embalmer, I’m a certified post-mortem reconstructionist and cremationist, and the president of the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association. I’ve written five books on the subject of the funeral profession and am an associate editor for Southern Calls, “The Journal of the Funeral Profession.”

Todd's book list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak

Todd Harra Why did Todd love this book?

I love history, and stumbled across this book while researching the history of battlefield recoveries. Soldier Dead is comprehensive without being tedious and Sledge organizes the material in “sections” (i.e., combat vs. non-combat recoveries) that work much better than a timeline approach, though he doesn’t skimp on the history. If you’re interested in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier the Soldier Dead offers, in my opinion, a slightly different look at the subject including the story of the eventual identification of the Vietnam unknown soldier (later identified as Michael Blassie). This book is a great mix of military history, forensics, and mortuary procedures. 

By Michael Sledge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Soldier Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What happens to members of the United States Armed Forces after they die? Why do soldiers endanger their lives to recover the remains of their comrades? Why does the military spend enormous resources and risk further fatalities to recover the bodies of the fallen, even decades after the cessation of hostilities? Soldier Dead is the first book to fully address the complicated physical, social, religious, economic, and political issues concerning the remains of men and women who die while serving their country. In doing so, Michael Sledge reveals the meanings of the war dead for families, soldiers, and the nation…


Book cover of Good Mourning

Todd Harra Author Of Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt

From my list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in the funeral profession my entire professional career, and my family has deep roots in the profession too. My great-great-great grandfather was a cabinet maker, or “tradesman undertaker” in rural Milford, Delaware prior to the Civil War. In addition to being a funeral director and embalmer, I’m a certified post-mortem reconstructionist and cremationist, and the president of the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association. I’ve written five books on the subject of the funeral profession and am an associate editor for Southern Calls, “The Journal of the Funeral Profession.”

Todd's book list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak

Todd Harra Why did Todd love this book?

During the course of my work week, I get a lot of people telling me they currently are interested in the funeral profession, or if they are of retirement age, they were interested in their younger days. Which begs the question: how do you get started in the profession? Society-girl Meyer simply went in and asked for a job at an East-side funeral home after planning her own father’s funeral. The book details how she helped plan some amazing send-offs for the Big Apple’s rich and famous, and I think is a great how-to for “rolling your sleeves up and giving something a try.” I read somewhere that the experience motivated her to attend mortuary school. Fun read. 

By Elizabeth Meyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Good Mourning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of From 'Hear' to Forever

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Author Of Grave Undertakings: Mortician by Day, Model by Night

From my list on funeral directors and for funeral directors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked as a funeral director for more than 35 years and write regularly about funeral service. Since I wrote my first book, Grave Undertakings, in 2003, there’s been a proliferation of books about funeral service. Funeral directors have many stories to tell, and some of the best are by those who have worked in the trenches and gleaned profound insight into the work that we do. I’m less enamored about the books that are written for sensationalism and excessively hyped. That said, I’m always on the lookout for a good book by a colleague who writes about the work that we do with sincerity and compassion. 

Alexandra's book list on funeral directors and for funeral directors

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Why did Alexandra love this book?

In 2018, Danny Jefferson was selected “Funeral Director of the Year” by his colleagues. That honor was more than just the culmination of many years of hard work. It was especially gratifying for Jefferson, whose success was hard-won. Hearing impaired since birth, he not only became licensed as a funeral director, but also realized his dream of owning a funeral home. In his book, Jefferson writes candidly about the unique challenges he faced, and overcame, along the way in both his personal and professional life. He hopes that by sharing his story, it will inspire others not to let their own challenges, whatever they are, hold them back from achieving their goals. His friend, and co-author Raymond Reid, a noted artist, helped choose the book's title and also created the cover.

By Danny Jefferson, Raymond Reid,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From 'Hear' to Forever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Funeral Director's Triumph Over Adversity Danny Jefferson remembers being laughed at and bullied. He remembers talking too loud and too much. That's what deaf people do. His roller coaster journey through life will lead you from heartfelt tears to joyous laughter, as well as admiration for his many accomplishments along the way. Enjoy the ride!


Book cover of The American Way of Death Revisited

Madison Davis Author Of The Loved Ones: Essays to Bury the Dead

From my list on honest portrayals of death, grief, and mourning.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before I turned twenty-five, I lost my father to illness, my brother to a car accident, and a cousin to murder. Experiencing this string of tragedies so young profoundly changed me. As a writer, I’ve often worried that my naked grief on the page would come across as soft, cloyingly sentimental, and wholly without bite. Over the years, I have looked to examples of books that deal with death, grief, and mourning with a kind of brutal honesty. I sought out writing that conveyed the reality of loss in all its messiness. Reading these beautiful, honest accounts of grief have always made me feel less alone in mine.

Madison's book list on honest portrayals of death, grief, and mourning

Madison Davis Why did Madison love this book?

This book is a classic for a reason. It’s a sobering (and deeply entertaining) look at the industry of death.

With so few universal truths, one would imagine that humanity’s shared capacity to understand our own mortality would be a source of connection. Instead, it feels like the mechanics of death and everything surrounding it, get shoved under the carpet in our desperation to avoid the topic.

As Mitford lifts the veil on the funeral industry, it becomes apparent how important it is to shine a light on the things we’re most afraid of.

By Jessica Mitford,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The American Way of Death Revisited as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Only the scathing wit and searching intelligence of Jessica Mitford could turn an exposé of the American funeral industry into a book that is at once deadly serious and side-splittingly funny. When first published in 1963, this landmark of investigative journalism became a runaway bestseller and resulted in legislation to protect grieving families from the unscrupulous sales practices of those in "the dismal trade."

Just before her death in 1996, Mitford thoroughly revised and updated her classic study. The American Way of Death Revisited confronts new trends, including the success of the profession's lobbyists in Washington, inflated cremation costs, the…


Book cover of The Greatest People I Never Knew

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Author Of Grave Undertakings: Mortician by Day, Model by Night

From my list on funeral directors and for funeral directors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked as a funeral director for more than 35 years and write regularly about funeral service. Since I wrote my first book, Grave Undertakings, in 2003, there’s been a proliferation of books about funeral service. Funeral directors have many stories to tell, and some of the best are by those who have worked in the trenches and gleaned profound insight into the work that we do. I’m less enamored about the books that are written for sensationalism and excessively hyped. That said, I’m always on the lookout for a good book by a colleague who writes about the work that we do with sincerity and compassion. 

Alexandra's book list on funeral directors and for funeral directors

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Why did Alexandra love this book?

Funeral directors often wonder about the lives of those they serve. Obituaries offer clues, but are limited in scope. Funeral director Eric Daniels decided to learn more about some of the lives entrusted to his care. Wanting them to be more than a “body” Daniels delves into the lives of “ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives.” In the book’s prologue, Daniels writes that the people he chose were those “who made a lasting impact on me because of the difference they made in the lives of others.”

Writing the book, Daniels says, enriched his own life. It also left a lasting legacy for the families of those whose lives he chronicled. An added bonus for readers is that the book’s forward was written by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, one of the country’s foremost grief experts.

By Eric M Daniels,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Greatest People I Never Knew as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When you lose someone you love, you learn new things about them-often from strangers who were touched by the one you lost. This book is about how thirteen people touched the man who met them in his Funeral Home. Without ever knowing them personally-hearing their laughter or seeing their tears-Eric Daniels describes how he's come to understand and value the lives of those he tended to in death. In today's busy and uncertain world, the stories presented here are gentle reminders to appreciate the blessings of each day. They are also a source of comfort for those who've lost family…


Book cover of Undertakings of an Undertaker: True Stories of Being Laid to Rest

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Author Of Grave Undertakings: Mortician by Day, Model by Night

From my list on funeral directors and for funeral directors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked as a funeral director for more than 35 years and write regularly about funeral service. Since I wrote my first book, Grave Undertakings, in 2003, there’s been a proliferation of books about funeral service. Funeral directors have many stories to tell, and some of the best are by those who have worked in the trenches and gleaned profound insight into the work that we do. I’m less enamored about the books that are written for sensationalism and excessively hyped. That said, I’m always on the lookout for a good book by a colleague who writes about the work that we do with sincerity and compassion. 

Alexandra's book list on funeral directors and for funeral directors

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Why did Alexandra love this book?

In his book, funeral director Stanley Swan ponders the question, “Are we destined before birth to be what is planned for us?” In Swan’s case, that just may be so. He shares several childhood experiences that he believes may have foreshadowed his career. In one reminiscence, he recounts how he tenderly cared for the remains of a dead sparrow. In another, Swan describes watching the local undertaker conduct a burial in the small cemetery adjacent to his family’s dairy farm in upstate New York, where Swan often played and explored. Fifteen years later, he enrolled in mortuary school and soon after was serving as a funeral director for his community. In his 40-year career, Swan witnessed the public tragedies that were 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina as well as the deaths of many of the locals he knew as friends. He writes about them all and offers a window into how…

By Stanley Swan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Undertakings of an Undertaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Could these remains, yet to be identified, be one of the victims of Rochester's Genesee River killer? Did the mourner in the chapel with the casket and the deceased actually think there was an apparition present? Is it legal to bury a man with no pants? Would a man really drive his deceased wife to a mortuary instead of calling the authorities? Those ashes seeping from the fractured urn...imagined or real? The black cat visiting the deceased man's wake...a family friend or fiend? These are just some of the intriguing, unusual and funny stories to be found in Undertakings of…


Book cover of When My Baba Died

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Author Of Grave Undertakings: Mortician by Day, Model by Night

From my list on funeral directors and for funeral directors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked as a funeral director for more than 35 years and write regularly about funeral service. Since I wrote my first book, Grave Undertakings, in 2003, there’s been a proliferation of books about funeral service. Funeral directors have many stories to tell, and some of the best are by those who have worked in the trenches and gleaned profound insight into the work that we do. I’m less enamored about the books that are written for sensationalism and excessively hyped. That said, I’m always on the lookout for a good book by a colleague who writes about the work that we do with sincerity and compassion. 

Alexandra's book list on funeral directors and for funeral directors

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Why did Alexandra love this book?

Marjorie Kunch was 13 when her grandfather died. She could not have known at the time that his death and funeral would become the catalyst for her to one day pursue a career as a funeral director. But it was a second funeral, that of her grandmother, which turned Kunch into an author. Having searched for a book to explain the funeral rituals of the Serbian Orthodox Christian church to her young children, she found none. So, Kunch wrote her own. The text is easy-to-read and illustrated with a number of photos. What’s more, because of her work in funeral service, the funeral terminology is precise. When My Baba Died is an excellent resource for families and a must-have for every funeral director's library. The book is also available in a Greek Orthodox version titled, When my YiaYia Died.   

By Marjorie Kunch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When My Baba Died as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

This hardcover picture book for ages 5-10 beautifully illustrates the steps a family takes when a Slavic Orthodox Christian loved one dies. We follow the progression from funeral home visitation and Pomen, witness the church ceremony, and conclude with the cemetery graveside service. Along the way, the most commonly asked questions children have about death and funerals are answered. Fears are alleviated by gently showing what to expect and explaining what the child will see. Most importantly, the comfort of the Orthodox Faith is affirmed. Extensive glossary with in-depth discussion of Slavic Orthodox memorial services and funerary terms. With foreword…


Book cover of Mrs. Steffy: Our Mother, the Mortician

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Author Of Grave Undertakings: Mortician by Day, Model by Night

From my list on funeral directors and for funeral directors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked as a funeral director for more than 35 years and write regularly about funeral service. Since I wrote my first book, Grave Undertakings, in 2003, there’s been a proliferation of books about funeral service. Funeral directors have many stories to tell, and some of the best are by those who have worked in the trenches and gleaned profound insight into the work that we do. I’m less enamored about the books that are written for sensationalism and excessively hyped. That said, I’m always on the lookout for a good book by a colleague who writes about the work that we do with sincerity and compassion. 

Alexandra's book list on funeral directors and for funeral directors

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Why did Alexandra love this book?

This book was given to me as a gift by a funeral director friend from Iowa. He told me he wanted to share the story of another pioneering/inspiring female in funeral service. And, indeed, that was what Mrs. Florence Steffy was. After the death of her husband, a beloved small-town funeral director, Steffy assured her community that the funeral home would continue to serve. And, along with help from her four children, serve she did for forty years. The book is a paean to Steffy, by her daughter, Doris, initially the only one of Steffy’s children reluctant to become part of the family business. She illuminates the challenges her mother faced at a time when women were seldom seen in funeral service, and how she faced them with strength and resilience.

By Doris C Steffy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mrs. Steffy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Florence Steffy's husband died in 1937 she was left with four children, almost no professional skills, and no license to continue the family's funeral business. In an era when people believed that a woman's place was in the home, she decided to go to embalming school and carry on the work her husband had begun. Doris Steffy lovingly chronicles her mother's journey from homemaker to funeral director in this moving memoir.

"It is my wish that this book will give renewed hope to those who have lost a loved one, a better understanding to those who have not suffered…


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