Recently published author and 30-year-old New York City socialite, Elizabeth Meyer has some secrets to share about the wealthy elite and their funeral services. Her new book, ‘Good Mourning‘, details her five years working at one of the most exclusive New York City funeral homes, Campbell. But before digging into the dish, it might be interesting to discuss how this 20-something wealthy global jet setter came to find herself employed in the death industry.
Her life, it is pointedly clear, is very far removed from the daily existence of most every person reading this. She attended the exclusive Trinity preparatory day school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The going rate for this K-12 educational facility is approximately $45,000 per year. While attending NYU for college, Meyer augmented her studies with travel and parties around the world. It is safe to say hers was a life of leisure. There was a moment in this story, however, where reality came crashing in.
After her father lost his long battle with lymphoma, it was tasked to Meyer to plan his funeral. She entered the famed Campbell Funeral Home to begin making the arrangements. Almost immediately upon entering, she was presented with the option to purchase a $90,000 bronze casket for her father’s final sendoff. While she opted for the more understated, (though still impressive), mahogany casket, (her father was later cremated), Meyer took an immediate interest in the death industry.
After graduating NYU, her mother balked at her working in a funeral home. Her education and her pedigree certainly guaranteed her more suitable positions in non-profits, NGOs, or public relations firms. Meyer tried her hand at a few of these over a couple of years before a friend explained that working in the funeral industry was similar to working for a charity, plus she could return home from Africa to work on the Upper West Side.
The day she walked back into Campbell, she explained that she had the desire and the connections to make her employment worth it to the management of the funeral home. She was hired that day.
Her memoir has many interesting tales. Of course, Campbell relies upon discretion, and so names have been omitted in order to respect the families and deceased. According to the interview and book review recently published in the New York Post, much of what Meyer mentions as complaints about her time at Campbell are decidedly out of touch with the mainstream audience she hopes will put money down to read the sordid death tales of the city’s upper crust.
For example, shortly after the economic downturn of 2008, the funeral home began offering its employees, many of whom lived in the outer boroughs and commuted in to Manhattan, bonuses of nice dinners and lavish vacations. Meyer, in a bit of a tone-deaf assessment, claimed she felt these gimmicks “…felt desperate.” Too, a company retreat to the Hamptons was unappreciated by Meyer because she much preferred the Berkshires, where her family has a vacation home.
For all of the stories and observations, Meyer does finish with great advice for everyone, regardless of your social and financial status. She explains some of the “secrets” that funeral homes may not share with you, like that you can purchase a casket at Costco, or that you are not required to have the body embalmed if you are not having an open casket funeral or are opting, instead, for cremation.
Additionally, Meyer believes it is important that everyone seriously consider preplanning their funeral or end-of-life arrangements. As she explains, more than half of the people who are tasked with planning a funeral are doing it for the very first time and they are expected to do it while they are traumatized by the grieving process.
If you have questions regarding preplanning your own end-of-life arrangements, or you are ready to preplan your cremation now, complete the form above or call us today. A Smart Cremation Smart Family Arranger will contact you and assist you in detailing exactly how it is you want to be remembered.
As Meyer states at the end of her New York Post interview, “I always compare it to weddings.” There is a difference though. “You can have more than one wedding, but you’ll only have one funeral.”