A Book About Living

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG)  |  Story by Shaunna Boyd
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As the owner of Lind Brothers Funeral Home in Carmichael, local author Chris Meyer learned a lot about death — but he learned even more about life. He has memorialized those lessons in a new book, Life in 20 Lessons: What a Funeral Guy Discovered about Life, from Death. Photo provided by Chris Meyer

Lessons About Life, Learned from Death

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - “Universally, people are fearful of death. … Everyone knows the finality of it,” said Chris Meyer. He knows this all too well as the owner of three funeral homes in the Sacramento Region, including Lind Brothers Funeral Home in Carmichael (4221 Manzanita Ave.

While helping people arrange funerals for their loved ones, Meyer said, “Over the years, the stories started repeating themselves. … There’s a pattern, there’s these common themes.” People shared their regrets — both for their lost loved ones and for themselves. These stories of regret are what inspired Meyer to write the book Life in 20 Lessons: What a Funeral Guy Discovered about Life, from Death.

“There have been hundreds of books written on grief, and death, and dying,” said Meyer. His book is different: “It’s not a book about dying; it’s a book about living.”

In the book, he writes that “the funeral home has also given me my greatest gift —perspective. … I have sat with the survivors. I have listened to their stories, their cries, their confessions, their regrets, their wishes. … So, I sat down and memorialized the lessons I learned to make certain you don’t search your whole life only to realize the true meaning of life on your deathbed.”

Meyer said the biggest regret he heard was “time. You can’t get more time.” That’s why many of the lessons in the book encourage people to focus their time and attention on the things that matter most in life: family, friends, laughter, and love.

Meyer explained that one of the most difficult aspects of grief is watching the world go on without your loved one — watching life go on while you struggle to move forward: “The hard part about death is that tomorrow the sun comes up.” And coping with loss is even more difficult if you are also struggling with regret.

“I really believe it was the stories that people were telling me, almost as if they were warning me,” said Meyer. That warning was not to waste time, not to let moments pass you by. Meyer learned the importance of being fully present in everyday life and appreciating the moments you have with those you love.

He writes, “Think of the people who impact your life today and thank them. …Tell them what they have meant to you. I am telling you firsthand. I have seen too many people at graveside services or in eulogies say, ‘I wish I would have told them when they were alive. If only I had one more chance.’”

The dark depths of heart-rending grief would not be possible without a deep and profound love. He writes, “I hope you have felt that inconsolable pain because it means you have truly loved. Like a part of you is missing. Like a pit at the base of your stomach that disables your desire for food or sunlight or movement. And it lasts. Oh, how it lasts. That pain is commensurate with the amount you have loved — extreme pain, extreme love. Congratulations if you have felt that.”

Talking about death everyday while raising three young sons was a surreal experience for Meyer. He was experiencing the vibrance of new life while at the same time helping families face death and say goodbye. These profound moments taught him to be grateful for all the small, precious moments in life that can be so easy to overlook. He writes that he strives to be “a person who is rich in moments with their family. … Family is complicated. But family is everything in this world.”

Meyer also urges us to keep elderly friends and relatives close to us rather than shutting them away: “They need us.” He explained that being around activity and staying engaged with family and friends keeps their minds active and gives them purpose. In the book, he writes, “Hold someone’s hand, look into their eyes, and listen to their story. If there is no story, just hold their hand.”

For more information about the book, visit www.chrismeyerauthor.com.