12+ Things You Should Know About Planning a Memorial Service

Two summers ago, my cousin Elizabeth died. Her death was sudden and occurred less than two weeks after the death of her mother. But unlike her mother, who had a traditional funeral, Elizabeth’s wish was to be cremated and to have her cremated remains scattered. In the interim, her two sisters and I put together a memorialContinue reading “12+ Things You Should Know About Planning a Memorial Service”

Post Pandemic Funeral Service – Can We Find Some Normalcy?

As the winter of 2020 turned to spring, the death toll from Covid-19 seemed insurmountable. For funeral directors, it was the darkest and most challenging time we’ve ever faced. In an industry built on personal contact and a deep sense of tradition, we could count on neither. “The idea of not being able to doContinue reading “Post Pandemic Funeral Service – Can We Find Some Normalcy?”

Unsung Heroes

In July’s issue, American Funeral Director pays tribute to COVID-19 heroes.When I was asked to contribute, I thought of the countless funeral directors who fit that description (and how it would take untold issues to mention them all). I decided to profile Tom Boland (many funeral directors in NY know him), who not only wentContinue reading “Unsung Heroes”

What It’s Like to Work as a Funeral Director

“What’s it like to work as a funeral director?” This is a question I’ve been asked time and again. My response: It’s not easy, given the complex emotions involved. It takes enormous commitment and dedication, along with a compassionate nature and respect for tradition and ceremony. Funeral directors deal with issues of mortality – ourContinue reading “What It’s Like to Work as a Funeral Director”

“The Morbid Truth About Working as a Mortician”

This recent piece on Ranker, titled “The Morbid Truth About Working as a Mortician” was called to my attention. Apart from the redundant terms funeral director/mortician (an antiquated term, as well), the author is on the mark in titling item #1 It’s Hard to Break Into the Death Industry. A couple of my colleagues cameContinue reading ““The Morbid Truth About Working as a Mortician””

The Funeral of Governor Mario Cuomo

A scene from the funeral of former New York State Governor, Mario M. Cuomo, as his casket is being carried to the hearse after a Mass at Park Avenue’s St. Ignatius Loyola. Read more about  Gov. Cuomo’s life and death in my profile which is in the March issue of American Funeral Director.  

Funerals Matter

The media is full of hype these days about the changing face of funeral service. While articles about green burials, home funerals or no funerals at all, proliferate, this is not the reality. Funerals matter and this book makes that case. A “must read” for anyone interested in a career as a funeral director. The authorContinue reading “Funerals Matter”

“I Know Everything About the Funeral Industry” said the novice.

This photo, and its blurb, sparked this blog post. These days, so many newcomers to the funeral industry have declared themselves “experts.” A troubling –and embarrassing development–to true, bonafide industry insiders. They will tell you that the traditional funeral is dead, if you will pardon the pun, and that “green” is the way to go. AndContinue reading ““I Know Everything About the Funeral Industry” said the novice.”

New York City’s Preeminent Jewish Funeral Director

The March issue of American Funeral Director contains my long and eagerly-awaited profile of Charles S. Salomon. He is a most interesting person whose career as a funeral director has been one that most people only dream about. In his 50 years as a funeral director, he’s handled the funerals of many prominent New Yorkers including Leonard Bernstein,Continue reading “New York City’s Preeminent Jewish Funeral Director”

My Cemetery Travels

  I took tour guide extraordinaire Marge Raymond’s trolley tour at Green-Wood Cemetery today. After the tour, Ruth Edebohls, another of Green-Wood’s tour guides, joined us, and we went exploring.  Despite having written a book about the place, Marge and Ruth showed me several sites I had never seen before. Green-Wood never ceases to amazeContinue reading “My Cemetery Travels”