Questions For Thomas Lynch
By John Glassie
(New York Times Magazine, June 1997)
Thomas Lynch, a mortician and poet from Milford, Mich., is the author of The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade.
Q: As undertaker, poet and essayist, you deal with both body and soul. Any thoughts on the afterlife question?
A: I don't have a clue. The resurrection rate around here is really tiny. Those people who see tunnels of light and so on didn't come back from the dead -- they just went beyond our ability to measure their vital signs. Because ''dead'' is what you are when you don't come back.
Q: You work in the same county as Jack Kervorkian. What's your take on assisted suicide?
A: I'm a believer in the slippery slope argument. Once you declare assistance in suicide a right, then you have to extend it to all Americans -- not just sick ones. The problem with ''assisted suicide'' is that it's like ''assisted masturbation.'' It's a relationship. With a suicide, there's only one person in the room. If there's somebody assisting you, they call that an execution.