Enter the world of an undertaker whose family for three generations has cared for both the living and the dead in a small Michigan town, as families navigate loss, grief and mortality. (Aired 2007)
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Thomas Lynch is a writer and a poet. He's also a funeral director in a small town in central Michigan where he and his family have cared for the dead -- and the living -- for three generations. Moving and powerful, the 2007 documentary “The Undertaking” chronicles the intimate stories of families confronting loss, and the role of funeral rituals in helping them come to terms with their loved ones’ deaths.
"Funerals are the way we close the gap between the death that happens and the death that matters," Lynch says in the documentary. "A good funeral gets the dead where they need to go and the living where they need to be."
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FRONTLINE is produced at GBH in Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Park Foundation; and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation, and additional support from Koo and Patricia Yuen.
Prologue - 00:00
Three Generations of Funeral Directors: Meet the Lynch Family - 01:16
Making Funeral Arrangements, for the Old and the Young - 05:44
What Is an Undertaker’s Job Like? - 15:44
Confronting Death: ‘Reality Can No Longer Be Denied’ - 20:54
How Families Navigate Loved Ones’ Deaths - 30:40
Embalming the Dead for Open-Casket Funerals - 40:20
Coda: ‘The Dead Matter to the Living’ - 50:07
Credits - 51:50