(Roughly) Daily

“There will be sleeping enough in the grave”*…

After a busy year, morticians let loose at their annual gathering in Nashville…

The theme of the National Funeral Directors Association’s 2021 convention and expo was “Together Again!” That may sound like an oddly upbeat slogan following a global pandemic, but morticians like to party as much as anyone — especially after a big year for business. So this October, roughly 5,000 funeral service providers from around the country descended on Nashville, trading in their mortuary makeup and three-piece suits for cowboy hats and boots.

On a surprisingly chilly morning, I joined them at Music City Center, the city’s sprawling convention facility and, for the next few days, the beating heart of the American funeral industry. The enormous hallways were clogged with reunions, as former students chatted with their mentors, funeral home owners met their favorite vendors in the flesh, and fans introduced themselves to niche podcasters and social media stars. “Funeral directors, we’re not the most popular kids at the party,” Glenda Stansbury, a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Oklahoma, told me, with her signature raspy laugh. But in the riverside city, with its total lack of COVID restrictions, the pandemic’s last responders could finally let loose…

Eleanor Cummins (@elliepses) reports: “‘I feel like a survivor’: Inside the funeral industry’s 2021 national convention,” from @mic.

* Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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As we undertake to understand undertakers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1896 that the Nobel Prizes were established. In 1888, Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, read his own obituary– entited “The merchant of death is dead”– in a French newspaper. (It was actually meant to be the obit of his brother, Ludvig.) Chastened, Alfred redrew his will with an eye to creating a more positive– and popular– legacy.

On this date in 1896, Nobel actually died. His estate established a series of prizes for those who confer the “greatest benefit on mankind” in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace (economics was added later). The first Prizes were awarded in 1901.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 10, 2021 at 1:00 am

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