Tag Archives: Thomas Lynch

‘The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade,’ by Thomas Lynch

“Grief is the tax we pay on our attachments.”   Thomas Lynch

Those who take care of our bodies, either in sickness or in death, see us at our most vulnerable. We are intrigued about how people can do these noble jobs: nursing home carers, intensive care nurses, surgeons, pastors, and funeral directors. Dealing every day with death and near death seems most difficult at best, morbid at worst. However, oddly enough, when we finally come to grips with our mortality, we begin to embrace life in all of its wonder and brevity. And when we hear how those in the caring professions manage, it takes away some of the mystery and brings new perspective.

Thomas Lynch, in ‘The Undertaking’, provides us with an insiders look into the daily life of  a funeral director, ‘undertaking’ a task which was a promise he made to his father: writing about their family business in the dismal trade. Lynch is a poet and an eloquent writer giving us a unique glimpse into how he and his family have been dedicated to burying members of a their small Michigan town for many years. Funeral directors perform necessary tasks and whether we love them or hate them, their mysterious business is intriguing and well articulated in this book. In Lynch’s words, what he does is “serving the living by caring for the dead.”