Death is the great equalizer, or so says Elizabeth Meyer in her new memoir, Good Mourning, a mostly juicy, sometimes gross account of life behind the scenes at New York City’s most fabulous funeral home where the rich and famous are, um, dying to be seen.
A socialite herself, Meyer was only 24 when her father died from cancer. With her mother and brother grieving, she stepped up to handle the no-expenses-spared arrangements at “Crawford,” the fictional name given to the real-life Upper East Side funeral home where services for celebs from Jackie O to Heath Ledger were held. In the process, Meyer discovered she had a knack for helping others cope with grief. She contacted the funeral home and asked for a job on the spot.
And so began a morbid yet fascinating career planning six-figure send-offs for New York’s power elite. The names have been changed, but identifying details remain: There’s the famous corpse with a missing brain, the deceased husband who was living a double life, the millionaire car collector who had a Ferrari placed next to his casket.
Great, a book about death, you’re thinking. But Meyer--now a licensed funeral director in New York--delivers a lighthearted and poignant account of a job we’ve always found morbidly fascinating. It’s also a reminder: Sometimes the silliest send-offs are the most fitting… and the ones that truly help us heal.