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Comfort during sorrow: The peaks and valleys of life as a funeral director

white casket with flowers on top being carried by pallbearers
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“I have found after half a century of doing this that it is by getting the dead where they need to go, the living get where they need to be," says Thomas Lynch.";

 

 

Funeral directors help people during what are often the lowest moments in their lives. However, for some pretty obvious reasons, it is not a common career path. 

 

Stateside's Work in Progress series features conversations between someone just starting out in a career and someone who is reaching the end of their professional life.

 

Today, we introduce you to two funeral directors on either end of that spectrum.

 

Tyler Bernstein is a recent graduate of Wayne State University's Mortuary Science Program, and Thomas Lynch is a semi-retired funeral director for Lynch & Sons Funeral Home in Milford.

 

One of the big changes in the funeral business over the years has been the increasing number of people choosing cremation. Bernstein says he's noticed that sometimes makes it hard for families to give their loved ones a proper goodbye.

“Because when you suggest taking a family and witnessing a burial they take that as normal,” Bernstein said. “When you recommend them witnessing a cremation, there’s still seems to be a taboo about it.” 

Lynch says working with the families, and focusing on their experience, is one of the most important parts of being a funeral director. That involves getting to know the families as well as learning about their deceased loved one.

 

“To know not only the life that is being honored, but the lives that have been forever changed by a death in the family,” Lynch said. “I have found after half a century of doing this that it is by getting the dead where they need to go, the living get where they need to be.” 

Today, we introduce you to two funeral directors on either end of that spectrum.

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