Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
VIDEO ARCHIVESCHEDULETOPICSABOUT FRONTLINEBUY DVDSTEACHERS
The Undertaking

join the discussion

photos of a casket, a hearse, and a funeral ceremony
We invite you to share your reactions and thoughts here about this documentary, 'The Undertaking.'

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched the program on your website in the early hours this morning after losing my Uncle so tragically the same day.I was scared to believe the horror stories envisaged by my nightmares of death.I soon realised after watching your film a heartful warmth in which way the dead are looked after and the processes in which they are prepared.I now have a comforting thought to believe that my Uncle will be respected in the same manner nd would like to thankyou for sharing this film in easing my torment.Thankyou with love.

Donna Anderson
Aberdeenshire, UK

Dear FRONTLINE,

Once again you have been able to portray a deeply sensitive topic with eloquence and beauty. Wonderful. Good job Frontline.

H Hadi
Calgary, Canada

Dear FRONTLINE,

I spend my days teaching writing, the manipulation of language, but tonight all words fail. They are all hollow and empty. I don't think I've ever been so moved and so touched by a television show.

Thank you for showing a side of death and living that Americans don't like to think about. So many of us are not afraid to die and are not afraid to let go of this life, but we are in the minority. Thanks to The Undertaking we may be better understood by our loved ones and our community.

Brett James
Denver, Colorado

Dear FRONTLINE,

I can't help but think about little Anthony and how lucky he was to be born to the Verrino's and that is one thing we must remember when faced with the saddeness of losing a loved one. Any other parent could have been chosen to parent this child and they were chosen for Anthony. Listening to them share their Anthony with the rest of us showed me why they had been chosen for this monumental task.

I will never forget them and will often pause and think of little Anthony which, in its way, is one of the greatest things they could achieve.

Edith Laryea
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Dear FRONTLINE,

A lovely program dealing with the grief we all will experience at some time.

As a hospice nurse I am awed by the amazing families that care for their loved ones at the end of life.I see so many patients that are referred to hospice at the "last minute" by doctors who won't refer till the patient is at the very end of life.

Hospice can offer so much support for caregivers early on and prepare everyone for a peaceful death and of course help with bereavement after death.

Nan Fetters
Mt. Pleasant, SC

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you Frontline for this extraordinary film. I was deeply moved, especially by the story of little Anthony John Verrino.

Expecting a 60 Minutes-type show about what a rip-off the Funeral Industry is, I instead was treated to a beautiful, poetic film concerning acceptance and unconditional love. I cherish a Mother Teresa medallion I own whose back face shows only the simple quote "I See God in Every Human Being..." I believe "The Undertaking" shows how this philosophy relates to everyday, ordinary poeple everywhere. Thank you again for a wonderful program I will remember for a long time.

Bob Golen
Fairborn, Ohio

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you, Frontline, for taking the risk to let the American Public see almost firsthand what happens to our loved ones once we release them to the Undertaker. It has, for the most part, been a mystery to me.

Your sensitive handling of the embalming process, the application of make up and placement of the facial features certainly helped eliminate questions I have had for many years.

Having lost my Mother just two weeks before this program aired, it has an especially warm, and meaningful message for me. I appreciated your letting the viewer know that yes, we could attend a cremation and make that process sacred as well.

Mr. Lynch's book is my next purchase. His prose/poetry regarding the death process was startlingly beautiful and honest. Blessings on Mr. Lynch and his Sons and upon all of those who deliver such delicate and compassionate care to those who go before us.

Virginia Fenner
Oklahoma City,, Oklahoma

Dear FRONTLINE,

Dear Frontline and all who participated in this story

I was deeply moved by your words and even more so by the reverence and holiness I found in your stories and actions. I had the great privilage to be with my grandfather when he passed, and at the time I was greatly troubled and conflicted with being there to witness what I had imagined to be a horrible thing.

I can now see the grace and beauty and can still feel the peace that I was able to witness. I hope that others who view your stories can gather some of your peace and be less afraid. Thank you for this.

sarah curran
Cumberland, RI

Dear FRONTLINE,

Nevada and Anthony,

Thank you for opening your home to us and show what Hospice services are really all about. I wish I had known more about the organization before my father's death- Hospice care came in his late stages and to me, indicated that we'd given up.

Had I been as educated, informed and prayerful as you are, I would have seen the group for the blessing they really were.

I'm so sorry for your loss, but even through videotape can see what a light your son was in your lives.

Thank you for sharing him with us.

Cameron Croft
Richmond, VA

Dear FRONTLINE,

However fleeting the serenity this documentary may have engendered, I will always take comfort in the examples of the men, women, and children in "The Undertaking". Prior to this documentary, public television was considered a source of political and environmental insights. It was never anticipated public television would provide such a significant insight into this sensitive topic, as well.

Wayne Blanchard
Sacramento, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

I just became a Funeral Director this year, and I am 40 years old. My husband didn't entirely understand my decision to pursue this profession as it was a large career change for me. I've never felt in explaining to him what it is I do that he's ever completely understood it. I recorded the program, went to watch it later, and he decided to watch it with me. We talked about it afterward, and he gets it now. Thank you for putting together such a tasteful and moving program about what we Funeral Directors do. I am extremely grateful.

West Bend, WI

Dear FRONTLINE,

My first reaction to watching this program was one of sharing the pain of the families portrayed. However, after more thought I have concluded that what I shared was the unconditional love created and extended, one human to another. If this is our only purpose in life, it is enough.

Nancy Ward
Portland, Oregon

Dear FRONTLINE,

I happened to turn on the television just as The Undertaking had begun and connected immediately with the program. I was with my grandmother when she passed away last year and, in ways described here by many viewers, this sensitive and informative documentary helped me to make peace with that experience.

But my connection deepened when I recognized the funeral home and neighborhood streets of my very own town! It's common now to go though life without knowing much about the people who live closest to you, but it was still shocking to learn so much about people in my own community from a film shown on national television. How sad and telling that I live less than a mile from the Verrino's and hadn't known about the life or loss of their son. I'm close enough to thank them personally for sharing their story -- with such grace and love -- and will be working up my courage to do that.

Maybe the distance we put between ourselves and the experience of death comes from the same source as the distance we put between ourselves and the people who are physically close to us every day but who we hardly know, if we know them at all.

Christine Egger
Milford, MI

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for a moving and thought-provoking broadcast. The impact that a good and caring undertaker can have should not be underestimated.

I was extremely close to my godparents, who had no children of their own. My godmother died suddenly. The family member in charge of arrangements did not acknowledge our ties at all -- no mention in the eulogy, etc. Of course she was dealing with her own emotions as well, but in addition to the shock of losing someone so dear I also had to deal with feeling excluded.

The undertaker was a family friend who knew me and my godmother very well. As we gathered at the house for the funeral procession, she announced that she wanted me to ride in the car with her. I agreed but couldn't understand why she would need me. She didn't need me. Instead she recognized my need to be included. I will never forget Mrs. Gardner shepherding me to the front of the church so that I could be there for my godfather, close to the bier so I could say my goodbyes to my godmother. This happened ten years ago and I shall never forget it.

Ann B
Baltimore, MD

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have been involved in the end-of-life arena for many years. As a lawyer, I have litigated several "right-to-die" cases in Michigan. I am also on the board of the largest hospice in Michigan and I have known, and worked with, many members of the Lynch family for quite a few years.

Your program was remarkable in so many respects: the stories that were beautifully and profoundly told, the poetry and photography that were woven into the documentary, and the honest and unflinching manner in which death and dying were described, all combined to make the program extraordinarily important and unforgetable.

The services rendered by the Lynch family (and their colleagues)to all of us in Michigan cannot be measured in finite terms. Those individuals assist us in finding ways to deal with death and dying, and to accept those realities as part of our lives. What an amazing contribution and legacy.

Andrew Broder
Bingham Farms, Michigan

more

home | introduction | watch online | stories & special video | to be an undertaker | join the discussion
producer's chat | readings & links | site map | dvd & transcript | press reaction
interview with the film's producers | credits | privacy policy | journalistic guidelines
FRONTLINE series home | wgbh | pbs

posted october 30, 2007

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of wgbh educational foundation.
main photograph © corbis, all rights reserved
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation