"My dad never came home saying he'd had a bad day," Dan Jonkhoff says. "Wherever we went, people would come up and thank him." Dan's father was a fourth generation funeral director and Dan is the fifth. He is co-owner of the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home in Traverse City and it's clear that he loves his work. "Our goal is to help people move through their loss-which might be a service or by listening to them for an hour."
Dan says that funerals and obituaries have changed in recent years, that they're more personal. "We want to honor your Gramma for her special qualities, not as a generic person." He talks about encouraging people to take their time after a death. "What are the lessons from the person who died? Most of us need to believe we won't be forgotten, that we've made a difference."
What about an afterlife? "I believe in heaven," Dan says at once. "My image is a mansion with many rooms where I'll be reunited with family and friends."
For all his experience, Dan is not matter-of-fact. "You know, I'm actually uncomfortable around people who are dying." He pauses and adds, "Because I cry."