Death doesn’t typically inspire laughter, but Rostraver Township author Mark Hofmann isn’t most people.
In his new humor book, “Good Mouring: A Guide to Biting the Big One … And Dying Too,” Hofmann takes on all aspects of death and dying – from funeral home etiquette to eulogies and cremation to cemeteries.
It’s the follow up to his 2018 book, “Stupid Brain,” which compiled and expanded upon Hofmann’s humor columns that run weekly in the Herald-Standard.
The new ebook is full of original material, written in the two years since his father’s July 3, 2018 death.
Hofmann said writing “Good Mourning” helped him cope with the grief he felt, and said others who embrace humor as a coping mechanism may also find levity in what he wrote.
“I’m not a grief counselor by any stretch of the imagination, but I definitely think (laughter) helps,” he said.
He details the day his dad died in the chapter “The What Ifs …. Of Death!”
Leonard Hofmann was out fishing on the Youghiogheny River when he died of a heart attack. Mark had dropped him off, snapping a few photos of his dad casting a line before asking if Leonard had his cellphone.
“Yeah, if I drown, I’ll call you,” his dad shot back.
The younger Hofmann went about his day, only to have police show up at his parents’ home in the afternoon. A group of kayakers found his father’s body.
He said he found it difficult not to wonder “what if” – what if he had stayed with his dad longer or glanced in the rearview mirror again before he drove off? Would he have been able to save him?
It’s the one (semi) serious chapter in the book. Hofmann calls it the “Uncle Ned” chapter, a throwback to an episode of the television show “Family Ties” that involves an alcoholic uncle assaulting Michael J. Fox’s character, Alex P. Keaton.
In an otherwise funny show, that episode was an unexpected heavy one, he said.
Hofmann came to the conclusion that the “what ifs” are unnecessary questions.
“The most humor-free sincere advice I can give you in this silly book is this: the ‘what ifs’ give you more grief than necessary,” Hofmann wrote. “It’s gonna happen because the ‘what ifs’ will come, just don’t let them consume you. Just get on with your life, listen and embrace all the words of comfort from friends and family and then write a book about it.”
“Good Mourning” was released on Amazon on July 3, 2020 – two years exactly after his dad’s passing. He’d hoped to have the book published in October 2019, thinking Halloween would be an appropriate time for its release given the subject matter. Delays, including getting photography done as COVID-19 hit the area, pushed its release back.
The day the book went on sale was fitting, Hofmann said, given its source of inspiration.
“I felt like my dad was there by my side when I was writing it,” he said.
A link to purchase “Good Mourning” or “Stupid Brain” is available through Hofmann’s author profile on Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mark-hofmann, or via a search on Amazon.