The Green Reaper

Memoirs of an Eco-Mortician

Non-Fiction - Memoir
259 Pages
Reviewed on 09/16/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Java Davis for Readers' Favorite

The author of The Green Reaper, Elizabeth Fournier, knew from childhood onward that she wanted a career in the mortuary business. As a child, she played “funeral,” and as a young adult, she banged on doors until she got her first job working for a funeral home. This all sounds like a morbid fascination with death, but the story of Elizabeth’s journey to eventually become The Green Reaper is one of energy, determination, and a passion for helping people at the worst times in their lives.

Young Elizabeth lost her mother at 8 years old. Throughout her life, she talks to “Mom,” asking for help and guidance with decisions. Along the way, Elizabeth makes a small army of wonderful friends, attends theme parties, and frets about her love life. She forces herself through college when she really wants to be in mortuary school. Eventually, she gets to mortuary school and later becomes a licensed funeral director. Another running theme is the constant dilemma of needing to make a profit to keep a business solvent versus wanting to charge families the bare minimum and not gouge them at a vulnerable time in life. This becomes much more of an issue when Elizabeth and her husband buy and operate their own funeral home, living on the financial edge, one disaster away from a fiscal nightmare.

The Cornerstone funeral home is out in the country, providing Elizabeth with relaxed laws for interments directly in the ground as opposed to the unnatural embalming processes (her husband is an embalmer), or the cost of expensive caskets. She can encourage families to sit with their loved ones, dress them, wrap them in a shroud chosen by the family, and bury them under a favorite tree. Or the family could choose cremation, watch the cremation process, retrieve the cremains, and bury these in a different, but still personal, manner. Becoming The Green Reaper made all of Elizabeth’s goals possible: owning a funeral home, being part of a close-knit community, and showing kindness to the deceased and to Mother Earth. When one of her friends dies, it is a test of Elizabeth’s command of her skills when she is asked to coordinate a very personal funeral. Green eco-advice: Save your dryer lint! Elizabeth has a special use for it.