Connecting to Rachael Hanel’s “Memoir of a Gravedigger’s Daughter”

This has to be one of the best book titles of the year! Not only that, it deals with a topic that most of us don’t want to discuss.

Minnesota Prairie Roots

gravedigger coverPICKING UP MINNESOTA WRITER Rachael Hanel’sWe’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down—Memoir of a Gravedigger’s Daughter, I wonder how I can possibly relate to a book focused on death.

But I can, in many ways. I am, like Hanel, a native southern Minnesotan. That is telling. We are a people who tend to keep our emotions in check, even in grief.

Hanel’s association with death begins before age three, when her father, Paul Hager, becomes a gravedigger. Hanel grew up frequenting 20 Waseca area cemeteries under her family’s care. Their business motto, “We’ll be the last ones to let you down,” seems the perfect title for a memoir that is at times light-hearted, but mostly serious.

Imagine summers in a cemetery, flitting among gravestones or reading books while your father digs holes to receive the dead and your mom mows lawn. And imagine the day you…

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