Grief is a shape-shifting emotion. It’s not just expressed through depression or tears. We may not recognize that grief can show up in demeanors that are unpleasant or hard to live with.

In this talk, “Grumpy, Cranky, Fussy: The Unspoken Symptoms of Grief,” learn how to recognize and react to grieving people. This eye-opening talk is presented by Todd Van Beck, a funeral educator, historian, consultant and gifted storyteller.

In this video, at about 25:12 to 34:40 and 47:25 to 53:45, learn about how Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol came to be the grumpy, cranky character of this story because of loss and grief. The unspeaking Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge his own grave. Fear of death can promote personal death awareness, which can help us grow from our losses.

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About Todd Van Beck

Todd Van Beck is a Funeral Educator, Consultant and Historian. He is the Dean of the College of Funeral Management at the University of Memphis and was an educator at Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, Hudson Valley College, New England Institute and Commonwealth Institute. He is a gifted storyteller with deep insights into funerals, death, loss and grief. His website is

This presentation was part of the 5th annual Before I Die New Mexico Festival, held October 30 to November 2, 2021. The Before I Die Festival concept brings together entertaining and educational elements to start conversations. Events are designed to prompt baby boomers and their millennial children to plan ahead for end-of-life issues. Videos from this year’s events and previous festivals are available online here.

Festival Sponsors

A portion of the sponsorship proceeds and ticket sales from the Before I Die NM Festival were donated to 501(c)(3) charitable partner, Historic Fairview Cemetery, established in Albuquerque in 1881. The cemetery is the final resting place of 12,000 individuals, with remarkable stories reflecting the history of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the United States of America. The website is