From Inside the Funeral Profession

Curtains Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training

Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training by Tom Jokinen (2010) In a year of adventures both hair-raising and hilarious, Jokinen finds a world that has radically changed since Jessica Mitford revised The American Way of Death. More surprising than Six Feet Under, and even funnier and more illuminating than Stiff.

 Does This Mean You’ll See Me Naked

Does This Mean You’ll See Me Naked by Robert D. Webster (2011) A funeral director for more than thirty years, the author offers readers entertaining and quirky stories gleaned from a life lived around death. Included are “How to Avoid the High Pressure Funeral Parlor” and “The Biggest Rip-off’s in the Business.”

 The Good Funeral Death Grief and the Community of Care

The Good Funeral: Death, Grief, and the Community of Care by Thomas G. Long and Thomas Lynch (2013) Long, a theologian, and Lynch, a funeral director, discuss several challenges facing “the good funeral, “ including the commercial aspects that have led many to be suspicious of funeral directors, the sometimes tense relationship between pastors and funeral directors, the tendency of modern funerals to exclude the body from the service, and the rapid growth in cremation. [note: In the past, Lynch has had an adversarial relationship with FCA.]

 Living Among Headstones Life in a Country Cemetery

*** Living Among Headstones: Life in a Country Cemetery by Shannon Applegate (2005) This work chronicles the author’s experiences as she inherits responsibility for a historic cemetery and finds herself plotting graves, consoling families, and confronting the funeral industry. [NHCPL]

 Mortuary Confidential Undertakers Spill the Dirt

Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt by Kenneth McKenzie and Todd Harra (2010) America is a death denying, death defying culture. The authors, both funeral directors, set out to give readers a look into the life and times of the profession from the inside.

 Nine Years Under Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home

Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home by Shari Booker (2013) Six Feet Undermeets The Wirein a dazzling and darkly comic memoir about coming-of-age in a black funeral home in Baltimore. [NHCPL]

 Profits of Death An Insider Exposes the Death Care Industries

Profits of Death: An Insider Exposes the Death Care Industries by Darryl J. Roberts (1997) Though almost 20 years old, this book still has much to say about today’s industry. “In the beginning funeral directors were resistant to pre-need contracts because in the funeral director’s long experience, people would purchase more in an emotionally charged at-need moment than they would in a calmer and more stable pre-need moment.”

Rest in Peace

*** Rest in Peace by R. Brian Burkhardt (2008) One of the simplest and most useful works I looked at. Though I don’t agree with everything he says, it is a great place to start when planning an economical funeral. [Ironically, Burkhardt died suddenly in 2011 of a heart attack at age 58 leaving NO plans and no financial legacy for his family. You can help by buying this book at full price and not as a “used” copy at a discount.]

Rest in Peace A Cultural History of Death and the Funeral Home in Twentieth-Century America

Rest in Peace: A Cultural History of Death and the Funeral Home in Twentieth-Century America by Gary Laderman (2003) Drawing upon interviews with funeral directors, major historical events such as the funerals of John F. Kennedy and Rudolf Valentino, films, television, newspaper reports, proposals for funeral reform, and other primary sources, this book cuts through the rhetoric to show us the reality–and the real cultural value–of the American funeral. [NHCPL]


This bibliography was prepared by Rebecca Taylor, Funeral Consumers Alliance – Coastal Carolina. Notation of “NHCPL” means the New Hanover County Public Library.

Please check your local public library, or request titles by Interlibrary Loan. Virtually all titles are also available from online bookstores, like, often in “used” and other inexpensive editions.,


Questions or for more copies contact:
Rebecca Taylor, President
Funeral Consumers Alliance Coastal Carolina
P.O. Box 4262
Wilmington, NC 28406