Funeral director Caleb Wilde on 'All the Ways Our Dead Still Speak'

A man poses next to his book
Caleb Wilde is a sixth-generation funeral director and the award-winning author of “Confessions of a Funeral Director.” His new book is “All the Ways Our Dead Still Speak.”
Courtesy Broadleaf Books.

For more than 170 years, Caleb Wilde’s family has served their Pennsylvania community by facilitating funerals. He has walked beside countless grieving people as they say goodbye, memorialize and weep. He’s attended thousands of funeral services, filled with comforting messages about heaven and future reunions.

But despite that — or maybe because of it — Wilde says he’s skeptical about life after death.

“I have become a fundamentalist of doubt,” he writes eloquently in his new book. “Death is so sudden and so final that in order for humans to cope with mortality, they make up a place that is immortal and eternal — the afterlife.’

That book, “All the Ways Our Dead Still Speak,” is a thoughtful reflection of Wilde’s experiences as a funeral director. He no longer believes in heaven or hell — at least not in the traditional sense. But he also cannot dismiss the experiences and even conversations some grieving families have with their dead loved ones.

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Friday, on Big Books and Bold Ideas, host Kerri Miller spoke with Wilde about what he’s learned from having a front-row seat to death since he was a small boy. Do our dead still speak?


To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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