Ep. 392 The Evolution of the American Funeral with Todd Harra

Learn the fascinating history of some funeral customs in America and how the profession is changing.

My guest Todd Harra is a 4th generation funeral director, embalmer, post-mortem reconstructionist, and creationist who works for the family funeral business in Wilmington, Delaware. He is also an author of several books including his latest book Last Rites: The Evolution of the American Funeral. He discusses the fascinating history of many funeral customs here in the U.S. and why funerals are important. Learn more at his website:


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This episode includes:

  • What inspired Todd to work in the family business as a funeral director
  • How this career provides lessons in grace and humility
  • Common myths and stigmas about the profession of funeral director
  • How the funeral industry continues to evolve
  • How and why the practice of embalming the dead began in the U.S.
  • The history of viewing the body before burial and why it may be helpful for mourners
  • The discovery at a Neanderthal burial site of evidence for early funeral practices
  • Why funerals are important and a vital step in the grieving process
  • When and why to include children in funerals
  • How technology will change funerals in the future
  • What we need to remember about the history of funerals as we move into the future

Links mentioned in this episode:

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest patron Heather Capuano! Your contributions make all the difference.


Ep. 180 Living Funeral Ceremonies: How to Die Before You Die with Emily Cross

Learn how experiencing a “living funeral” ceremony can help with fears of death and reconnection with what’s important in life.


My guest, death doula Emily Cross, has a remarkable level of death awareness for her young age and has been inspired to help others get comfortable with death by leading “living funerals.” She will share where her inspiration came from and how she conducts these unique experiences for confronting and preparing for death. Learn more at her website:




This interview includes:

  • What a “living funeral” is and how it differs from a celebration of life
  • How Emily was inspired to work with death and create living funeral ceremonies
  • How a living funeral tradition began in S. Korea to combat the high suicide rate
  • What a living funeral ceremony consists of
  • The benefits of preparing and practicing for our own death
  • Who such a ceremony is right for and when it might be too triggering
  • How to offer living funeral ceremonies as part of an educational experience

Links mentioned in this episode:

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on Patreon.com/eolu!