BOOK FOUR: The Business of Death
"There is perhaps nothing else so distinctive of the condition and character of a people as the method in which they treat their dead."
The business of death is as old as life itself and in some ways the fundamentals surrounding it have changed very little. A century ago, coffins were often homemade pine boxes. Families prepared the bodies and funerals were held in the front parlor.
In the past 100 years, Americans have handed the caring of our dead over to the funeral industry. Families spend more than $11 billion annually on funerals products and services.
The funeral ritual acknowledges a person’s participation in the natural birth and death cycle. It is a rite of separation of an individual from their community. As we redefine the practices of our life in this new century, we are recreating a modern, personal and uniquely American relationship with death.