Elizabeth Meyer’s “sweet, touching, and funny” (Booklist) memoir reads as if “Carrie Bradshaw worked in a funeral home a la Six Feet Under” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
Good Mourning offers a behind-the-scenes look at a legendary funeral chapel on New York City’s Upper East Side—mixing big money, society drama, and the universal experience of grieving—told from the unique perspective of a fashionista turned funeral planner.
Elizabeth Meyer stumbled upon a career in the midst of planning her own father’s funeral, which she turned into an upbeat party with Rolling Stones music, thousands of dollars worth of her mother’s favorite flowers, and a personalized eulogy. Starting as a receptionist, Meyer quickly found she had a knack for helping people cope with their grief, as well as creating fitting send-offs for some of the city’s most high-powered residents.
Meyer has seen it all: two women who found out their deceased husband (yes, singular) was living a double life, a famous corpse with a missing brain, and funerals that cost more than most weddings. By turns illuminating, emotional, and darkly humorous, Good Mourning is a lesson in how the human heart grieves and grows—whether you’re wearing this season’s couture or drug-store flip-flops.
If Carrie Bradshaw worked in a funeral home la Six Feet Under, her story would look something like Meyer's charming memoir about her tenure planning funerals at Crawford, an elite funeral parlor in Manhattan where the Upper East Side socialites she grew up around plan their ultimate farewell parties. After her father's death, she begins searching for meaning in her own life, and the path leads her, surprisingly, to a calling to work with the dead. At Crawford, she faces challenges as a child of privilege trying to fit in with the working-class staff: receptionists snub her and whisper about her behind her back. But she finds respite downstairs with the embalmer, Bill, and her kind if brusque boss, Tony, who soon offers her a promotion and an office of her own after she proves to be indispensable to Crawford's rich and famous clientele. Soon Meyer discovers her deep capacity for empathy and her desire to help people in their most difficult moments, along with the calling of making each funeral as amazing as any bash in the Hamptons. Meyer injects a healthy dose of humor into what could otherwise be a morbid topic. From saving the day when an important ambassador's body is lost in transit, to gracefully handling intense office drama when she is accused of having an affair with Tony, Meyer takes the high road and concentrates on what becomes a spiritual journey of healing and self-discovery: "I needed to know death. I needed to understand it. I needed to stop fearing it, and my way of doing that was to help other people who were grieving." It's a story well suited to the big screen.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Good mourning had me mourning
Wish it would have been more about the day to day life of working with celebrities in death rather than a memoir about a little rich girl growing up in New York. It's about 1/4 of life working in a elite funeral home and 3/4 rich girl who dresses only in designer clothing and carries ridiculously expensive hand bags. Super disappointing.
I recommend this book if you are curious about or work in the funeral biz.
Wanted to like this book. A few interesting funeral facts. Hard to look beyond the disgust for the wealthiest and their funeral helper. (And forced to wear aerosoles to work- the horror!)