On Life and Living
Funeral home ownership provides life lessons
By Jessica Laskey
“We’re all going to die,” Chris Meyer says.
He’s not trying to be morbid. He’s just intimately familiar with the fact—he’s owned Lind Brothers funeral home in Carmichael since 2005. But Meyer’s new book, “Life in 20 Lessons: What a Funeral Guy Discovered About Life, from Death” is not a weepy tome dedicated to dying. Instead, it’s a celebration of life from the perspective of someone who witnesses the end of it more than most.
“This book is not about how you die, but about how you live,” says Meyer, who was an aspiring screenwriter in Hollywood for 11 years before he, his wife and their then-infant son moved to Sacramento to be closer to family. (They’ve since added two more sons to the mix.) “The book is a way of fast forwarding your life to your deathbed so you can see what you’ve learned by the end and then rewind so you can use those lessons now.”
After relocating to Sacramento, Chris Meyer realized he was going to need to do something to support his family. A friend suggested he look into the funeral home business as a “stable career.” At the time, Lind Brothers was foundering (it’s been family-owned since 1964), so Meyer took his friend’s advice and acquired the business.
Chris Meyer was pleased to discover he had a natural affinity for helping families through the saddest time of their lives and, over the next 14 years, grew to love the process of sitting with people, getting to know them—and listening to their sage advice.
“I started to realize I was hearing the same things over and over again,” Meyer says. “People would ask me, ‘Do you have small children? Go home. Be with them. Coach their teams. Be involved.’ These lessons were profound because I was applying them to my own family. I started to realize I wanted to memorialize them in a book.”
Ever the entrepreneur—in 2015, Meyer also founded Magilla Loans, an online lender-lessee matching service inspired by his own tribulations getting 14 business loans in a 10-year period, first to buy the funeral home, then to update and expand the business—Meyer put his thoughts into a book and self-published in September. It’s now available “in every form possible” (including an audio book read by Meyer) on Amazon.
“I didn’t want to write ‘the funeral book’ because there are already so many other famous books on death, like Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ ‘On Death and Dying,’” Meyer says. “I wanted it to be a life book instead, with sound bites for America. It has vignettes from my life—from my childhood in New York, from my work at the funeral home—in a digestible format.”
An active member of the Carmichael Kiwanis club and lover of all things Sacramento—“I really believe in it, it’s such a great place,” Meyer says—the author has been pleasantly surprised by how much people seem to have taken to the book and embraced its positive message.
After all, if we’re all going to die, we might as well enjoy a good read on the way out.