Los Angeles, CA… Donna Francart made a living in the “death industry,” and the experience made lasting impressions on the way she views life, death and the afterlife.
For nearly nine years, Francart was a deputy coroner, taking part in death investigations, shepherding survivors through the aftermath of a loved one’s passing and occasionally forming spiritual connections with the deceased. It was a calling she felt compelled to answer. She captures her deeply personal, emotional journey in her new book, I’ve Seen Dead People: Diary of a Deputy Coroner, in which there are profound lessons for the living.
“Every day is a gift when you wake up and you have another day,” Francart says. “I hope that the readers walk away appreciating their lives and living every moment like it’s their last—and love.”
I’ve Seen Dead People offers a rare look inside the complex emotional, physical and mental ups and downs of one of society’s most mysterious professions.
As a deputy coroner, Francart worked medicolegal death investigations, which are those involving suspicious, violent, unexplained or unexpected deaths. She was often the bearer of bad news, notifying family members of the deceased and sitting with them as they processed a spectrum of emotions, from shock and disbelief to pain and sorrow.
“Every single one of us on this earth deserves to die with dignity and respect,” she says. “Every one of us was a mother, a father, someone’s brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin. Everyone is someone, and that is how I handled every single case that I was on.”
Lacking access to structured debriefings, Francart turned to journaling as a way of privately unpacking the profound grief she faced in her role and preserving her own mental well-being. As she did, she found herself in a conundrum of perplexing relationships with both the living and the dead.
I’ve Seen Dead People also chronicles everyday moments, as Francart tried to provide as normal an upbringing as possible for her two sons. Along the way, they all learned to share their space with the many spirits that Francart encountered, and to embrace the beauty of life.
“One thing is guaranteed, you will walk away with your eyes opened a little more, your heart more giving and your life more cherished,” she adds.
Author Donna Francart was born and raised in the Midwest. She served as a deputy coroner for nearly nine years beginning in 2007 and assisted with more than 2,000 death investigations. She now shares her life with her two adult sons, their two better halves and one granddaughter.
I’ve Seen Dead People is her first book and has been adapted into a screenplay by Frank Burmaster and Gary Revel, with plans to develop it for a feature film. Revel owns Jongleur Books, a publishing company associated with Mother Nature Festival Live Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to stop global warming.
I’ve Seen Dead People: Diary of a Deputy Coroner
Publisher: Jongleur Books
Available from Amazon.com
Reviews, photos, links to previous interviews and Q&As are available upon request.