Last Rites

The Evolution of the American Funeral
Hardcover Book - Preorder (Available August 2, 2022)
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Hardcover Book - Preorder
$26.99
Available August 2, 2022
eBook - Preorder
$26.99
Available August 2, 2022
Ceremonies for honoring the deceased are crucial parts of our lives, but few people know where our traditions come from—and what they reveal about our history, culture, and beliefs about death. Todd Harra presents a riveting exploration of American funeral customs—exploring where they came from, what they mean, and how they are still evolving.
Full Description

The Untold Story of American Funeral and Mourning Traditions

Why do we embalm the deceased? Why are funerals so expensive? Is there a reason coffins are shaped the way they are? When—and why—did we start viewing the deceased? Ceremonies for honoring the departed are crucial parts of our lives, but few people know where our traditional practices come from—and what they reveal about our history, culture, and beliefs about death. In Last Rites, author Todd Harra takes you on a fascinating exploration of American funeral practices—examining where they came from, what they mean, and how they are still evolving.

Our conventions around death, burial, and remembrance have undergone many great transitions—sometimes due to technology, respect for tradition, shifting sensibilities, or even to thwart grave robbers. Here you’ll explore:

  • Influences for American rituals—from medieval Europe, the Roman Empire, and even ancient Egypt
  • When mourning fell out of fashion—and how George Washington’s passing brought it back
  • Abraham Lincoln’s landmark funeral and its widespread impact
  • Flowers, liquor, mourning gifts, and caskets—the reasons behind our grieving customs
  • Unknown soldiers—how warfare influenced funeral and bereavement practices … and vice versa
  • How growing populations, religion, inventions, and media have changed and continue to shape our traditions
  • The future of our death rites—mushroom suits, green burial, body donation, flameless cremation, home funerals, and more

The rich story of the American funeral is one of constant evolution. Whether you’re planning a funeral service or are simply intrigued by the meaning behind American burial practices, Last Rites is an informative and compelling exploration of the history—and future—of the ceremonies we use to say farewell to those who have departed this world.

Format Details
Hardcover Book - Preorder (Available August 2, 2022) eBook - Preorder (Available August 2, 2022)
Contents Hardcover Book (288 pages) eBook (288 pages)
Filetypes EPUB, PDF, MOBI
Dimensions 6 x 9 inches
Product Code BK06230 BK06230W
ISBN Number 978-1-68364-805-5 978-1-68364-806-2
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Todd Harra

About Todd Harra

Todd Harra has over a decade of experience as a licensed funeral director and embalmer, and is a certified postmortem reconstructionist and cremationist. He has cowritten two nonfiction books about the profession, Mortuary Confidential and Over Our Dead Bodies, and is an associate editor for Southern Calls, a renowned journal in the funeral profession. He is a member of the board of the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association and lives in Wilmington, Delaware. For more, visit toddharra.com.

Author photo © BethSimsPhotography.smugmug.com2021

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