When My Yiayia Died

 

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Marjorie Kunch is a funeral director, and writer, based in Arizona. When her grandmother died, Kunch, the mother of two young children, searched for books to answer the questions her two young children had about funeral rituals. Not able to find what she was looking for, Kunch decided to write her own book. Written from the perspective of her Slavic Orthodox faith, When My Baba Died was published in 2015, and a companion workbook soon followed. In 2017, Kunch published a Greek Orthodox version titled, When My Yiayia Died. Both books are tenderly illustrated, with Kunch’s children serving as models.  In a piece I wrote for American Funeral Director’s December issue about Kunch’s works, I noted that  the Worsham College of Mortuary Science graduate “aims to demystify death, funerals and cancer, events that are often kept hidden from children.” For more information, here’s a recent review on Goodreads

The “Creep Factor”

In addition to this site, Melissa and I host a Facebook page for The Morte Girls. This group was created as a place for serious funeral directors to come together to discuss issues with colleagues. We invited some of the best licensed funeral directors we knew, intentionally keeping the group small and manageable to avoid what so many of the other Facebook funeral director groups have become: a place for the morbidly curious. Recently, a young woman requested to join. She claimed to have attended a mortuary school, but it was unclear whether or not she had ever become licensed (one can only hope not). Among her likes: death, murder, horror movies, and snakes. Just one more in  a string of inappropriate requests from those looking for the “creep factor.”

Unfortunately, we see these types all over social media these days. Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter are littered with those who believe funeral service is a 24/7 Gothfest.  They enroll in mortuary schools around the country for their chance to be near the dead, despite the fact that funeral service is mainly about working with the living.

Each and every time the Press reinforces the “creep factor” with their sensational coverage of those on the fringe, the conversations seem to grow more inane. A recent Instagram post had a young mother asking whether or not a tee shirt with the words “future corpse” came in a onesie for her newborn baby. Just days later, I was bringing a colleague (who eschews social media) up to speed, and mentioned the tee shirt. She told me how she had handled the funeral of a newborn baby who had a surviving twin. “Just think, ” she said, shaking her head with disgust, “about how amusing the mother of that baby, having lost one child already, would find this tee shirt.”

The Journey Begins

Melissa Johnson Williams and Alexandra Kathryn Mosca are two well-known and respected names in funeral service.

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