The American Way of Death

Jessica Mitford (1963) [Amazon]

I’ve been interested in end-of-life practices and choices since reading Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death back in my 20s. The book, initially published in 1963, has aged remarkably well with its evergreen hot take that the American funeral industry has perfected the art of turning grief into high-margin profits. And like many of you at some point, I have been faced with hard decisions delivered via hard sell in a funeral home, where dollars spent are communicated as a proxy for one last opportunity to signal affection, and to elevate the performative component of one’s grieving.

(PH - 01/02/2020)