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Grave State of Affairs - From Epitaphs to Belly Laughs

Judi Thietten



Grave State of Affairs is a humorous recollection of the week of a mother's death and burial---when almost everything that could go wrong did, and a daughter's attempts to make sense of the uncontrollable chaos.

Deeply insightful, emotion-filled, and laugh-out-loud funny, this book takes an honest look at human perceptions following disturbing events and how they can determine the quality of our lives going forward.

An astonishingly true account of misfortune to the extreme and the foibles of being human.


Why did Mother--the guest of honor--miss her own funeral?

During the normal, run-of-the-mill service, whether the dearly departed was still intact or reduced to ashes, they were up in center front where everyone could see them.  It could be an open casket or closed casket, an urn, a box, or just a picture--but they were normally up front. 

Mother was not.

I don't believe that Mother would have liked being out in the foyer all by herself while people were talking about her inside.  She used to get very upset if she thought we were talking behind her back.  It was time (for the service) to begin.  Surely, they would bring her in soon.

Bless their little hearts.


“Grave State of Affairs, from Epigraphs to Belly Laughs, is a work of humor, love, kindness, forgiveness but most of all humanness. 

I love this book because it makes me THINK, not narrowly as in death, mourning, and funerals but much more broadly.  The author gives us glimpses into the lives of her family, a self-revelatory tutorial regarding mental illness, and its intergenerational impact.  And a vignette of her family’s participation on both sides of the civil war in the area of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, only a few miles from her parents’ home.

I love this book because it describes life in real terms, which often means being hurt, being slighted, cut, scratched, or bruised but ultimately finding one’s true grit and rising above the fray or becoming the chronic victim always searching for rescue.  A quote from the author seems apropos: “We are never victims of someone else.  We are only victims of OUR OWN THINKING.” (caps added)

Read this book!  There are gems throughout its pages.  You will be richly rewarded. I was."

Frank Dalley, PhD
Professor, Writer, Entrepreneur, Family Counselor


“She softens the emotional trauma this event must have caused by looking at the unbelievable chain of unfortunate events from the comical side in the vein of 'if I don’t laugh, I will cry.'"

Judy Grigg Hansen, Professor of English and Writer


 “.  .  .  This is the kind of story that would never be accepted in a work of fiction; it would be too far-fetched! .  .  .  I appreciate that the author chose to see the humor in the situation and to share the story with not only her immediate family, but the rest of us as well. I hope the author has some more stories to relate, although I don't see how she could top this one!”