All the Ways Our Dead Still Speak: A Funeral Director on Life, Death, and the Hereafter
Few professions capture the imagination as much as those who work closely with death. Sixth-generation funeral director Caleb Wilde shares stories of grief and loss from his more than twenty-year career in his family’s funeral business in All the Ways Our Dead Still Speak. Serving the Parkesburg, Pennsylvania community, Wilde recounts stories through composite characters to preserve the privacy of individuals he has encountered in his trade. Writing the book during the global COVID-19 pandemic, Wilde shares reflections on the psychological toll of witnessing death and experiencing vicarious trauma many times over.
This book does not disappoint. It’s a good read for those who don’t have strong feelings about the afterlife. Wilde approaches death with dignity and respect for the experience of grief, so don’t pick up this book if you’re looking for cheap sensationalist spooks. Read Wilde if you’re willing to delve deeply into the interiority of someone’s life as a generational death-care worker. Read Wilde if you want to know how a White funeral director takes seriously the charge of being trusted with the ministry of death for Black congregants of the Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church. Read Wilde if you have the breadth of compassion and empathy to handle vulnerability at the height of sorrow.
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