Sunday, Sunday, July 28, 2024 – 10:30 a.m. – “The Historic Underpinnings of the American Funeral” – Todd Harra

The rituals and symbols associated with the American death rite have long been shrouded in mystery. Why do we send flowers? Why do we hold wakes? Why a coffin, and not a casket (or a shroud for that matter)? Why do we embalm? This presentation will explore the importance and value of rites and rituals in our culture, and provide the historical context and events that shaped the modern funeral. If you’ve ever had questions about mourning jewelry, the habiliments of woe, the repast, the temple of honor (i.e., hearse), the rural cemetery movement, or Victorian mourning customs, Todd will cover all these topics, and be available after the service to answer any and all questions.

Todd Harra is a licensed funeral director and embalmer, as well as a certified post-mortem reconstructionist and cremationist. He is the past president for the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association, and a former associate editor for Southern Calls “The Journal of the Funeral Profession.” Todd has published three non-fiction books about the funeral profession, his most recent being: Last Rites: The Evolution of the American Funeral that was selected as a contestant for Malcom Gladwell’s “Next Big Idea Club” and End of Life University’s 2023 reading list.
Mr. Harra will be available for 30 minutes or following the service for a discussion and to share his books.

Worship Associate: Kate Franta, Music Leader: Lotus Cheng, Richard Speck