Good Mourning: A Memoir

Good Mourning is the story of one young woman's journey from socialite to funeral director at an elite Manhattan mortuary. Dryly funny and gossipy--names have been changed, but there are enough details to enable guessing games--Elizabeth Meyer's memoir offers reflections on growth, grieving and how modern Americans deal with death.

Raised in the privileged realm of the Upper East Side, Meyer was not long out of New York University when her father died after a lengthy battle with cancer. She threw herself into planning his funeral, working with the Crawford Funeral Home to create a meaningful event where friends and family would celebrate his life. She was surprised to discover she had a knack for it. She was even more surprised to find she couldn't stop thinking about Crawford, and she was back there soon after, talking her way into a job.

Meyer's choice to work with the dead confused her friends and family, but she couldn't shake off her fascination. Hired as a receptionist, she eagerly observed business operations, jumped at opportunities and spent her free time in the embalming room. However, her real talent was in dealing with Crawford's upscale clientele; they appreciated both her empathy and her ability to respond to their idiosyncratic needs with thoughtfully crafted farewell events.

Meyer's anecdotes about funerals make Good Mourning entertaining reading: those sparing no expense, those with exclusive guest lists and for a bigamist (he got two), and cadavers that were missing organs or went missing entirely. Moreover, her insights about the business of death and how we approach it give this memoir a broader focus and unexpected depth. --Florinda Pendley Vasquez, blogger at The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness

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