The Undertaking

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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.'


I watched the show approximately 2 weeks prior to the death of my grandmother. Shortly after my brother called to tell me that she had passed away, I watched the show again via your website. As with the first time I watched, I couldn't help but be reminded and comforted about the need for funerals.

My grandmother's funeral brought some closure for me relative to the health issues she suffered the past several years. I encouranged other members of my family to watch the show online. My hope is that they will find some understanding of how my grandmother's death affected me and what this documentary meant to me.


Adam Reiff
Westfield, IN


Having grown up in a small town in Michigan, the Lynchs reminded me of my home town undertaker family who were as important to the community life as any of the town leaders and clergy.

This Frontline was singularly one of the best. The sincerity of Thomas Lynch and his entire family who take part in this important part of the circle of life was evident in every aspect of their contact with these families. It was moving without being sentimental. It took a great deal of courage, particularly for the young couple, to expose their life to the audience.

I applaud you.

Paul Johnson


I too happened upon "The Undertaking" soon after it came on and I was captivated by this outstanding documentary. A very sensitive and challenging topic was dealt with beautifully, with great insight and reverence. Thank you to all the families that shared their stories. I so wish I lived in Michigan in order to be able to have the Lynches nearby -- what a truly wonderful funeral home and intelligent, caring professionals.

Frontline should win awards for this important program, which I consider a must see in today's world where death and dying are misunderstood and stigmatized.

Glenn Troost
East Hampton, New York


Can a copy of Frontline's The Undertaking be placed in the yet to be created packet given to every adolescent as he or she passes through the portal into adulthood? No program on the excellent Frontline before or since has or will surpass The Undertaking. It is perfection in every way.

Jean Berlowitz
Corvallis, Oregon


Watching the show really changed my views of what Funeral Directors do. They are there for us when we need them. It is as they say a service to both the living and the dead. I am grateful that we have them in our soceity. They are the corner stone in many if not all communities. Thank you to all Funeral Directors everywhere!

Steven Kennedy
Inverness, Nova Scotia


This documentary managed to fascinate without exploit. I think a lot of thanks is owed to the families who participated in this program. They allowed cameras into their lives at such a painful time in order to shed light on a topic that is often avoided. It also showed the importance of grieving, and grieving fully. It personally helped me to look at death less as a scary thing to fear, but as a natural part of life. I think anyone who has a fear of death or the dying needs to watch this. Thank you.

Madison, Wisconsin


There's so much I can say about this program. Firstly I hope the Verrinos get to read my comment. I would love to talk with Mrs. Verrino -

On September 25,2007 my little cousin Alexander A.K. Hryzan passed away @ 5:30am in his crib. He was 18 months old. He was born March 2006 premature weighing 1lb 6oz. He fought in the NICU for 6 months, then fought at home under nurses care for 7 more months. When he turned 1 his immune system was finally strong enough for me to meet him. I spent almost every day of the summer of 2007 at his house babysitting him and his big sister. He became like a little brother to me and my little hero. He loved to climb on everything and I called him my little monkey. He had an amazing presence and a smile that melted your heart. Hundreds of people were devistated with his death, which to this day is still an unknown cause. His funeral was on October 1,2007. I hadnt seen alex for a month prior to his death because i had been busy with school starting. His casket was closed and I never got to kiss him goodbye. I hated that.

Then a few weeks later i saw this show and payed extra close attention to little anthonys journey. It brought tears to my eyes. In a strange way, when I saw anthony in th casket, all i could picture was alex. I cried for hours after the show ended. When Mrs. verrino spoke of her griefing process so much made sence to me and this show made my grieving process so much easier. When anthony was put to rest, it almost gave the part of me that wanted to see alex put to rest. I was happy about that. Thank you for sharing your story. This show made me better understand the death process and the familes on it are forever in my prayers. I know anthony and alex are playing together up in heaven.

Carolyn Betty
Webster, MA


"All I ever really wanted was a witness." "To say I was." After hearing that I decided that I will bear witness to my mother's cremation. Thank you for such a wonderful show that I found very helpful to me as my mother's time is rapidly approaching.

Cathy Johnson
Boxford, Ma


Powerful, sensitive! Helpful with illness plus aging in our family. The "Lynch Family" business and moving poetry gave this raw topic validity.

The young couple's plight could have even been more powerful and instructive if they had discussed the dilemma of choosing to have another child with the possibility of, once again, a genetic defect. Their comments on the insensitivity of friends in a downhill tragedy were a lesson to us all.

Cambridge, Massachsetts


Dear Frontline,

After one year, I finally had a chance to view your documentary. A word or two can not express my gratitude for a job well done. You allowed the funeral director (Mr. Lynch) along with his family to express the importance of having a ceremony for the life that lived well.

Being apprehensive in regards of the date when the show was aired, I could only imagine another dark story being told or possibly some ridicule about the funeral service industry. Also, most people within this field feel uncomfortable about the press interviewing them for the previous stated reason. Being a funeral director/ embalmer for over 15 years, I have seen many sad stories being presented about my profession. To excuse the pun, the harmful documentary that Dateline made back in the early 1990's still haunts me to this day.

Again, your style in filming this special was terrific. Whatever it is worth, thank you. Your staff as well as Mr. Lynch reminded me why I chose my profession.

Robert S. Buckovan

Robert Buckovan
Dallas, Texas


Dear Frontline,

Thank you for this incredible program. I was deeply moved by this young,loving couple and their beautiful child. Their love for their son and bravery in dealing with such a diffcult circumstance is inspiring I am grateful to Frontline and them for consenting to have their story told.

Diane Haritos
Marblehead, , MA


Many thanks for the Verrinos for sharing so much of their story, and their son's life. I'm watching this tonight, about a year after its initial broadcast, and as we approach October, the month of remembrance for Pregnancy and Infant Loss. After losing an infant almost a year ago, I was very touched To see the Verrinos go through this and share their thoughtful insights. Thank you to all involved in this amazing documentary about a subject that is not usually treated with such care.

Kristine Erickson
Boston, MA


Dear Frontline folks,

Thank you so much for this moving tribute to the Verrinos; and for sharing more of the vision and work of Thomas Lynch and his family. My wife and I were deeply touched, and reminded of the death of our infant daughter, Rebecca. The death of a child is probably the worst thing one can go through, and I can't imagine getting through it without the kind of deep faith that the Verrinos seem to have. After Rebecca died, I was supported by family and friends, and by the vision of our friend, Fr. Henri Nouwen, who happened to be writing a wonderful little book about death at that time, "Our Greatest Gift". Henri encouraged me to write about the experience, so I did. Writing "Rebecca: A Father's Journey from Grief to Gratitude", was, I think, God's way of helping me find hope in the tragedy.

I hope that in the same way, Nevada and Anthony Verrino will always feel supported and encouraged by their beautiful participation in this Frontline masterpiece. Thanks so much!

Robert A. Jonas
Northampton, MA


What a great show .. i grew up as a litle girl going to several family funerals .. but nobody talks about it really .. We just don't want to go their. I did not feel sad but i looked at it as a new beginning .. and makes me think about how i want to be laid to rest .. thank you PBS ..

Mountain View , Ca. 94141, Ca.


I hope that the Verrinos may read this. I went through a similar situation with my first daughter, born in 2000. She was with us for 11 months, all but 2 days of that spent in hospital. Looking back I can see that I should have tried to be more like you in confronting her death. We tried so hard, and put her through so much to try to keep her alive. Of course at the time I guess it seemed best. What I would like to say to you is this: Your grief will never go away, but after a time that in itself becomes a comfort. It might sound strange, but there is beauty in mourning and knowing that the connection between you and your child will never be broken, even through death. Peace to you and thank you for sharing your story. Death, especially of a child, is so buried and hidden and I don't believe that it is healthy to ignore or brush aside such a basic simple part of our existence. You helped some people to realize that.

Valerie Margand
Petaluma, California


My mom and I were fortunate to get hospice services for my dad after he was diagnosed with late stage liver disease. This program was a reminder to me that hospice services helps those very ill as well as their close family members and caregivers. Learning more about what happens during the Undertaking process helped me see it as something more natural and less ominous.

Janet Nazario
Bronx, NY


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posted october 30, 2007

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