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Death in the Family – Al Jazeera Correspondent

Dying is big business. In 2014, the United States funeral market was estimated to be worth $20 billion, with an expected rise of 19 million in the number of Americans aged 60 and above by the year 2020, and and average of 1.5 million deaths annually fueling the increasingly powerful multinationals.
For a long time, however, it was a family business, and no more so than for Blake Sifton.

Born into a family that cares for the dead, Blake’s family has overseen most of the funerals in the small town of St. Thomas, Canada, for the better part of 90 years. A veteran of the First World War, Blake’s great-grandfather built the family business in 1926 and both his grandfather and father have dutifully carried forward his legacy as independent family funeral directors.

This film explores how, for Blake, the death business was a normal part of his life. He was taught as a child that mortality is not something to be frightened or obsessed over. It’s as natural as life itself and it should be acknowledged, understood and respected.

We also look at Blake’s decision not to pursue the family business professionally, why he feels that might be and how this has affected his relationship with the industry.

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