Aired: October 19, 2018

Front Porches of the Dead

Woodland Union Church Cemetery. Photo courtesy Alison Bell.

  • The Vital Dead (12 min.)

    With: Alison Bell (Washington and Lee University; Virginia Humanities)

    Welcome flags, monogrammed door mats, bird feeders, and whirly gigs. These are all things you might find on a front porch—or on a gravesite. Alison Bell studies burial practices and says that in the 1980s there was a shift in the way people express themselves in cemeteries.

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  • Burial Trends (9 min.)

    With: Virginia Beard and Bill Burger (Longwood University)

    You might not think of the funeral industry as a trendy business, but branded urns and elaborate death celebrations are all the rage right now. Virginia Beard and Bill Burger clue us in on some surprising burial trends and where they might be coming from.

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  • Black Owned Funeral Businesses (6 min.)

    With: Beverly Bunch-Lyons (Virginia Tech)

    Black owned funeral businesses proliferated after the Civil War. Beverly Bunch-Lyons says it stemmed from the desire of African Americans to have their family members buried with care and dignity by black undertakers.

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  • Near-Death Experience (24 min.)

    With: Bruce Greyson (University of Virginia)

    Apparently, millions of Americans have had near death experiences. Bruce Greyson is the co-author of Irreducible Mind and co-editor of The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences. His research has led him to talk to people who have had near death experiences and to discover startling consistencies in the accounts.

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