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From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

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The best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with “dignity.” Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in t The best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with “dignity.” Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette-smoking, wish-granting human skulls), and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved-ones’ bones from cremation ashes. With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. Featuring Gorey-esque illustrations by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning—including a glowing-Buddha columbarium in Japan and America’s only open-air pyre—and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals.


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The best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with “dignity.” Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in t The best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with “dignity.” Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette-smoking, wish-granting human skulls), and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved-ones’ bones from cremation ashes. With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. Featuring Gorey-esque illustrations by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning—including a glowing-Buddha columbarium in Japan and America’s only open-air pyre—and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals.

30 review for From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

  1. 4 out of 5

    PorshaJo

    OK, this might sound really weird....but I've been to a lot of funerals. And I mean a lot. As a very young girl, I used to go church on weekends with my grandparents, and they would always go to the funeral home after church. It was always the funeral home three day viewings followed by a church service and grave site service. Many, many years later a family member passed and was cremated. I thought it the oddest thing, completely unheard of. I had many long discussions with my husband about it OK, this might sound really weird....but I've been to a lot of funerals. And I mean a lot. As a very young girl, I used to go church on weekends with my grandparents, and they would always go to the funeral home after church. It was always the funeral home three day viewings followed by a church service and grave site service. Many, many years later a family member passed and was cremated. I thought it the oddest thing, completely unheard of. I had many long discussions with my husband about it as I was so confused. I didn't know there was anything different. This book was an eye opening experience to see different countries and cultures and their methods of burying the dead. I found it fascinating to learn of so many different methods from an open air funeral pyre, to cultures who keep a body in the house for 5, 10+ years mummifying the body, to Indonesia where they prop up their bodies, to Japan where they have very ultra-modern places to sit with the deceased and where relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved- ones’ bones from cremation ashes, to homes that store skulls, and many more. Finally, to the one I found most fascinating....the FOREST. The Forensic Osteology Research Station in North Carolina. Here, bodies are placed on the grounds of a research facility and 'composted' providing a green burial. The author is a mortician and is fascinated by how people fear dead bodies. She is also quite rough on the American funeral industry and doesn't hold back. It is a huge area that makes tons of money. Your basic American funeral can start at around $20K and go up substantially from there. I find it odd to say I 'enjoyed' reading this book, but I learned a lot about how many in the rest of the world view death and how they bury their dead. The book includes illustrations that show many of the rituals and images of Mexico's Dias de los Muertos. I have not read the authors first book but it is one I plan to pick up soon. I can't say this is for everyone. Some might find it quite macabre. I found it a bit educational and it's one that can lead to many in-depth discussions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Petra-X

    This is a brief tour of some of the world's strangest burial practices. In the epilogue, thanking people, Caitlin says, "Finally Landis Blair, who was an all-right boyfriend but is now a killer collaborator". And that feels like the key to this all-right, 3.5 star (at best) book. It feels like flushed with the deserved success of first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, the author had decided to have a dual career as of funeral home proprietor and writer and had This is a brief tour of some of the world's strangest burial practices. In the epilogue, thanking people, Caitlin says, "Finally Landis Blair, who was an all-right boyfriend but is now a killer collaborator". And that feels like the key to this all-right, 3.5 star (at best) book. It feels like flushed with the deserved success of first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, the author had decided to have a dual career as of funeral home proprietor and writer and had cast around for a subject to write about it. A tour of the world's more unusual funerary practices! It was so obvious. There was a New Age funeral pyre in Colorado, the scraped-clean and dressed dead of Sulawesi brought out for their annual, communal party. Then in Bolivia, skulls it seemed everyone had in their home that they and bring offerings to ask favours of (and get blessed by the local Catholic priest). In another country graves are only rented and then the remains turfed out if the family fail to pay. The most interesting was Tibet where the recently dead are chopped up and mixed with flour and butter and offered to birds of prey who having filled up on the corpses fly off, and so it is known, poetically, as 'sky burial'. I knew most of these funeral rituals so it wasn't that interesting. But one thing really caught my attention. We are schooled to think of Buddhism as some ideal spiritual philosophy, something peaceful that brings contentment, despite one of the world's most celebrated Buddhists and well known champions of human rights, Aung San Suu Kyi's support of the state persecution and violence directed at the Muslims in Myanmar. But is this not modern thinking? This is what the Buddha thought of women: "The ancient scriptures tell of the Buddha encouraging his community of male monks to take trips to the charnel grounds to meditate on women’s rotting bodies. The motive of these “meditations on foulness” was to liberate a monk from his desire for women; they were, as scholar Liz Wilson calls them, “sensual stumbling blocks.” The hope was that charnel meditation would strip women of all their desirable qualities so men would realize they are merely flesh-sacks filled with blood, guts, and phlegm. The Buddha was explicit, claiming that a woman’s deception is not in her accessories, like makeup and gowns, but in her fraudulent garment of flesh, surreptitiously oozing grotesque liquids from its orifices." That was enlightening. For that the author gets upped to 4 stars. It's a good book, very readable, the insights and descriptions are very much of the popular science genre, not too deep, not too challenging, a quick read and light non-fiction. It does make you realise that a funeral is for the benefit of the mourners and the funeral directors. You might want to consider a ritual that is personal for the family, and less the killingly expensive pressure that benefits the funeral directors.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Although a strange choice for Christmas reading, I found this book utterly fascinating. It seems that the United States may be the only country that avoids the subject of death. Other countries, not only have a different view of their dead, but treat their dead entirely different. In the Torajan region of Sulawel in Indonesia, many live along side their dead. The mummified corpses are not buried, but remain part of the home. In Mexico, most of us have heard of the the Day of the dead, which actua Although a strange choice for Christmas reading, I found this book utterly fascinating. It seems that the United States may be the only country that avoids the subject of death. Other countries, not only have a different view of their dead, but treat their dead entirely different. In the Torajan region of Sulawel in Indonesia, many live along side their dead. The mummified corpses are not buried, but remain part of the home. In Mexico, most of us have heard of the the Day of the dead, which actually lasts more than one day. The dead are invited back, tempted with their favorite foods, to come and visit with their loved ones. Japan's dead are often cremated. In fact, Japan has a 99.9% rate of cremation, and the cremation is attended by 60% of their loved ones. They also have the highest longevity expected, for women, and they are healthy to boot. The different ways the dead are treated in this country is very interesting and makes remarkable reading. Different ways of treating the dead are making a push in the United States. Making death a natural part of life, not something to fear, and a less abrupt way of dealing with this subject. Practices of old as well as the evolving role and costly practice of our current ways of handling death, are also discussed. Truly fascinating, though not a subject I actually thought of before reading this book. All the same, the constant TV commercials trying to convince the elderly, or near elderly, to buy insurance so their family is not financially responsible for the significant costs of their deaths, is distasteful. The author narrates her own book, and does a very good job doing so.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I was sent this book by the publisher after responding to an email sent to a librarian email list; they had extras leftover from ALA, and I was #ALAleftbehind, so I asked for a few from their list. I knew of Caitlin Doughty but never read her earlier book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, which talks about her experience running a crematory and funeral home. In this book, she visits several different places that deal with death differently, either from cultural diffe I was sent this book by the publisher after responding to an email sent to a librarian email list; they had extras leftover from ALA, and I was #ALAleftbehind, so I asked for a few from their list. I knew of Caitlin Doughty but never read her earlier book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, which talks about her experience running a crematory and funeral home. In this book, she visits several different places that deal with death differently, either from cultural differences or people thinking outside the mold. From going through my father's death this past year, I certainly was well acquainted with the incredible costs of a burial, and my Dad was fortunate enough to have a gravesite and gravestone provided by the government because of his status as a veteran. But I witnessed price gouging and how funeral homes take advantage of grieving families who feel trapped. It isn't pretty. I hadn't stopped to think of how it might be different other places, how the racket might be unique to our country or that other countries at the very least would have different rackets. Doughty explores some of the standard expectations of other places and I felt like I learned a lot, from the Japanese crematorium experience (where the family watches), to the corpses living with families on an island in Indonesia, to the idea that a burial plot is only as good as long as the body is decomposing in Spain (and not a permanent space as it is in the USA.) Doughty also tells the story of how the way a Mexican town honors their dead is healing to her friend who lost a baby. Such a minor part, but I found myself fascinated by the pages about whales... how their poop feeds an ecosystem, how their decomposing bodies sustain life for half a year! These are the things I brought up during dinner conversation. I was surprised too, but the way she has written some of the details proves hard to forget.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Caitlin Doughty has done it again: dragged us death-phobic Westerners into the light of what grieving and death could (and maybe should) look like. In From Here to Eternity, Caitlin travels the globe and shares her first-hand experiences of getting up close and personal with death rituals from around the world. I found each section absolutely captivating, and although the Tana Toraja bit did give me a nightmare last night (seriously), I'm going to blame that on the arms-length (or maybe football Caitlin Doughty has done it again: dragged us death-phobic Westerners into the light of what grieving and death could (and maybe should) look like. In From Here to Eternity, Caitlin travels the globe and shares her first-hand experiences of getting up close and personal with death rituals from around the world. I found each section absolutely captivating, and although the Tana Toraja bit did give me a nightmare last night (seriously), I'm going to blame that on the arms-length (or maybe football field) distance we Americans prefer to keep from death. I still don't know what I'd like to happen to my remains after I die, but thanks to Caitlin Doughty, I have hope that we as a culture can move towards a more open-minded, natural approach to death that allows different preferences and options to be acceptable and attainable for everyone.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I absolutely LOVED this. I cannot wait to pick up more of Doughty's work and to binge watch her YouTube channel "Ask a Mortician." In this book, Doughty outlines all of the fucked up ways in which the US death industry is fucked up. She looks at expenses, dignity, and the seeming moratorium on public grief here in the states. In contrast, Doughty takes the reader along with her as she travels the world learning about other cultures' death rituals and mourning practices. This could have very easily I absolutely LOVED this. I cannot wait to pick up more of Doughty's work and to binge watch her YouTube channel "Ask a Mortician." In this book, Doughty outlines all of the fucked up ways in which the US death industry is fucked up. She looks at expenses, dignity, and the seeming moratorium on public grief here in the states. In contrast, Doughty takes the reader along with her as she travels the world learning about other cultures' death rituals and mourning practices. This could have very easily devolved into some gross, appropriative, fetishization of how beautiful and spiritual non-Western cultural traditions are. I mean, a white lady visiting Buddhist monks and remote Indonesian villages? I was ready to say, "No thank you, macabre Eat Pray Love." But now I have to eat my words! Doughty looks at different cultural traditions without a tinge of fetishization, and with a whole lot of respect. It's WONDERFUL. It's educational, it highlights how awful the corporatization of death is, AND it touches on the impacts of colonialism. I mean... I just could not have been more wrong. And I'm so happy about it. Doughty's tone in this novel is great. She's informative, blunt, and funny. None of these seems in-line with how American's typically talk about death (which is pretty much the point of this book). She pulls back the curtain, gives you honesty and insight, and makes death a whole lot less scary. Can't recommend this book enough!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    So interesting and a great introduction to this topic!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lois Bujold

    Three-and-a-half stars, really. Read in one fascinated day. The personal explorations by a young California mortician of funeral practices across the world. My eye was first caught by her more recent work, the irresistibly titled Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions From Tiny Mortals About Death, but my library's wait list was too long, so I selected this one instead. Good value. Her others are certainly on my to-read list now. Ta, L.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ross Blocher

    From Here to Eternity is the kind of exuberant, passionate non-fiction I live for. Caitlin Doughty has a deep fascination with death: she is a funeral director by trade and her knowledge, enthusiasm and good humor are clearly evident as she describes and de-stigmatizes cultural attitudes toward death around the world. Many of the stories revolve around her own travels to various parts of the world to witness ceremonies, crypts, crematoria, and columbaria (places where cremated remains are kept). From Here to Eternity is the kind of exuberant, passionate non-fiction I live for. Caitlin Doughty has a deep fascination with death: she is a funeral director by trade and her knowledge, enthusiasm and good humor are clearly evident as she describes and de-stigmatizes cultural attitudes toward death around the world. Many of the stories revolve around her own travels to various parts of the world to witness ceremonies, crypts, crematoria, and columbaria (places where cremated remains are kept). In Colorado, one group has fought legal battles and intense suspicion to offer outdoor cremation. In Indonesia, families co-habitate with the bodies of their loved ones for many years: talking to them, applying preservatives, and bringing them out each year to walk the streets. In North Carolina, forensics facilities allow experimentation with human composting. In Japan, you might be given a pair of chopsticks to retrieve your loved one's bones following cremation, and a modern facility lets you hold up a keycard to trigger a colorful light display identifying their remains in one Buddha-shaped urn amongst hundreds. In Bolivia, some steal skulls from graves and keep them around to share advice and answer prayers. In Joshua Tree, California, a pilot program lets you be buried, sans embalming fluids, in a simple cloth four feet below the ground. In the mountains of Tibet, bodies are chopped up and fed to vultures: one of the faster returns to nature one might imagine (if one imagined such things). The book has wonderful illustrations by Landis Blair, which perform a crucial role: they let you visualize what is being described without the "yick" factor some might experience seeing photos. I, of course, did plenty of Google surfing to find the photos. Along the way, Doughty shares numerous fun facts and thought-provoking commentary on our relationship to death. In the US, death has become a lucrative business, and bodies are whisked away and kept hidden, and there are only two options offered: embalming/burial or cremation. She advocates for a more diverse, nuanced approach to death that honors the dead in the way they have chosen and that allows family time and space to process the loss, and also for death not to worsen our ecological crises. At the same time, this can be accomplished without compromising the health or safety of the living. I found myself jealous of many of the practices described here, and thinking about my own choices for my body after I die. I am an organ donor, and want any useful organs to go to people who need them. I'd love to donate my body to medical students or scientific study (my wife is against this, and she and I have had great conversations after reading this book together). In the end, I don't want to be embalmed, and would even prefer not to be burned - I'd love for my body to be returned back to the earth in the least invasive, time-consuming way, so my nutrients can go back into creating new forms of life. I'm hoping, by the time it comes to that, there will be more options available. If so, it will be thanks to efforts like this book, which I highly recommend.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ashley DiNorcia

    4.5 In her second book, Caitlin takes us around the world to take a look at how other cultures view and treat death. If you're already aware of how bizarre, detached and corporate-ified the US is about death, this will be a lovely trip through some truly beautiful rituals and cultures. If you aren't aware, well, this might be a bit jarring for you. Caitlin approaches the topic with respect and just the right amount of humor. I can't recommend her writing enough, and would definitely recommend her 4.5 In her second book, Caitlin takes us around the world to take a look at how other cultures view and treat death. If you're already aware of how bizarre, detached and corporate-ified the US is about death, this will be a lovely trip through some truly beautiful rituals and cultures. If you aren't aware, well, this might be a bit jarring for you. Caitlin approaches the topic with respect and just the right amount of humor. I can't recommend her writing enough, and would definitely recommend her first book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory if you'd like to learn a bit more about the way our current death care system works. Also, moving to Colorado immediately because I WANT THE PYRE TREATMENT. Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for providing me a copy for review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ammar

    fascinating book about the various cultures and how they interact with death, and the concept of the departed or loved one. were many non-western cultures perform more natural acts of burial, a non-industrial cremation. some use a pyre to lit a loved one, while others keep them mummified, and visit them often. The Japanese use chopsticks to pluck their loved one's bones from the ashes. Fascinating and written beautifully

  12. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    My anticipated reaction: My actual reaction: This isn't bad, not by a longshot. It's also not the stunning masterpiece I'd lead myself to believe it would be. A lot of that is my fault because I've stalked Caitlin Doughty for about 4 or 5 years now and am up to date on all her YouTube videos. I often read articles about her or by her or those written for Order of the Good Death so not a lot of this information was new to me. While I expected such to be the case, I also expected to get a mo My anticipated reaction: My actual reaction: This isn't bad, not by a longshot. It's also not the stunning masterpiece I'd lead myself to believe it would be. A lot of that is my fault because I've stalked Caitlin Doughty for about 4 or 5 years now and am up to date on all her YouTube videos. I often read articles about her or by her or those written for Order of the Good Death so not a lot of this information was new to me. While I expected such to be the case, I also expected to get a more in-depth anthropological/sociological analysis of the death rituals explored in each chapter and that is the source of my lackluster response. These read like interesting blog posts and I wanted more. MORE! Also, the book is illustrated nicely but I wanted photographs or, in a perfect book, a mix of photographs and illustrations. That disappointment is solely on me and, yes, I did do a lot of Googling, as you're about to find out. There are eight chapters in this book, each a compilation of Caitlin's (we're not friends but I'm calling her by her first name anyway. I'm older than she is and in some societies, that totally gives me the right to not be formal) experiences with community traditions surrounding death. I felt it was a little odd so much of this centers on American experiences - 3/8 chapters take place in the ol' US of A. I guess that could go to show that we're not as death squeamish as we think and that there is hope for progress among the pearl-clutchers but I wanted more glimpses of what other cultures do with their dead because I already live here and know what we do with corpses. She starts out in Colorado (Represent!) and I'm going to go ahead and talk about what I thought of each chapter but I'll put it all under a spoiler tag in case you want to be surprised in regard to the places she travels and the things she sees! (view spoiler)[ Colorado: Crestone Caitlin comes to Colorado! As I noted in my while-I'm-reading-this update, I was sure she'd come here for Frozen Dead Guy Days or the coffin races in Manitou. I was wrong! She came for the Crestone Funeral Pyre which I had never heard of and was excited to learn about. After I read this chapter, I called up (texted) my BFF, T, and was all, "Hey. We need to buy some land and start up a burning business." She was like, "LOLWUT?" And I was, "You know how we're always talking about sumping the bodies? Well, now we can burn them. We can rent out a funeral pyre and hold funerals! It will be just like a wedding venue only, you know, with death and fire!" I waited awhile to hear back and then finally got, "Ok, there's available land in..." and this is why we are soulmates for life. Indonesia: South Sulawesi First, she and her death buddy went to see the Londa Burial Caves where she is supposedly Instagramed by strangers (I did a quick sweep of Instagram and found nothing, but Instagram could have been used as a name for any general social media site or I just didn't dig deeply enough) and I was completely fascinated by this. However, too quickly, she moved to the next place and topic, the Tana Toraja death rituals which I'd known about, to an extent. I love that the families hang out with their dead, put their dead in little houses and then bring them out to change their clothes and catch them up on all the gossip but now I worry they’re going to run out of buffalo. How do you make enough water buffalo for this event? I would have liked this chapter fleshed out (ha!) a little more. Like, how are the Londo Caves related to the people who get to come out and be cleaned up on visitation day? Who gets the wood carvings and when? How does this all work? I felt this was the weakest chapter with the least amount of solid explanation and observation which is a shame because it seems like such an affirming and happy place to embrace death. Mexico: Michoacán It's Days of the Dead in Mexico! Caitlin runs down to Michoacán to see what they've got going on for their Dias de los Muertos. Let me tell you about my experience with Day of the Dead. There's a pretty solid Hispanic and Latino population around here so I'd heard of Day of the Dead but it wasn't taught in school when I was a kid and I didn't know anything about it. When I was in my 20's, though, my boyfriend at the time moved down to Taos and since it was just 4 hours away, I'd visit every other weekend. I went down one Halloween and went home two days later, in the dark, and noticed the cemeteries were glowing. Actually, they were full of live people and candles with farolitos and luminarias everywhere. When I got home, I called back down to ask just what in the world was going on and the boyfriend told me he'd find out. When he got back to me, he said it was the Day of the Dead celebration. When I went down again two weekends later, his delightful neighbors (whom I still miss), told me all about it and invited me to attend with them the following year. And when the following year rolled around, they remembered the invitation and extended it again, telling me I could meet grandma! It was a hard sell but because I am the whitest white girl, I figured I really wasn't supposed to go visit the grandmother I'd never met in the cemetery I'd only ever seen from the road so I demurred as gracefully as possible but I still feel honored that they wanted me to come with them to celebrate with their family in the graveyard. And even though we can't do the marigolds up here, due to them all being long dead by the time Nov. 1 and 2 roll around, the graves are still lovely to see, all brimming with light and food and living people. Caitlin's Day of the Dead experience was much different. First, she got to go to the traditional Dias de los Muertos parade in Mexico City! In its inaugural year, no less! And you're all like, "Erica, you can't have a tradition that is inagurual." I'm here to tell you that yes, you absolutely can because traditions have to start somewhere. In this case, the parade started because of the James Bond movie, "Spectre." In the opening scene of the film, Bond glides through the melee in a skeleton mask and a tux and slips into a hotel with a masked woman. Except, here's the trick. The Dias de los Muertos parade did not inspire the James Bond film. The James Bond film inspired the parade. The Mexican government, afraid that people around the world would see the film and expect that the parade exists when it did not, recruited 1,200 volunteers and spent a year re-creating a four-hour pageant. And I thought Coca-Cola had a large global impact. So, anyway, the next day, Caitlin and her friend/associate, Sarah, go to Michoacán. Sarah is important because she's of Mexican descent but was not given her heritage. After she lost her baby, she had a hard time finding ways to express her grief in a culturally appropriate manner, appropriate to death-shunning Americans, I mean. It was through Frida Kahlo she learned about the betrayals of a woman's body and the unashamed acknowledgement of bereavement. That took her to Mexico to experience Day of the Dead with people who did not shy away from death, where she could express her agony and it was recognized and accepted. So, of course, she took Caitlin on her next trip so that they could see the mummies and angelitos, could visit an effigy of Father Cornelio, and take part in an actual Dias de los Muertos festival and the following walk to the cemetery. This is probably the most personal chapter in the book. It's touching, sad, and also hopeful and I appreciated Caitlin's friend, Sarah, giving Caitlin, and therefore her readers, the gift of her story and journey. On a related note, If you’re interested in Day of the Dead and haven’t seen Coco, do yourself a favor and view it ASAP. North Carolina: Cullowhee My mom, when she was dying, to concerned parties: "Don't be sad. I'm going to a better place." Us, her family: *rolling eyes, shaking heads* Concerned parties: *hands on hearts, tears in eyes* "Yes. To heaven. You'll be with God, blah blah blah." Mom: "No. I'm going to Grand Junction." *endless cackling even though she's told this joke a thousand times by this point* Concerned parties: *confusion or, at least, polite bemusement* Us, her family: "She's going to a body farm in Grand Junction after she dies." Concerned parties: *blanch and flee* Guess where Caitlin is today, kids? A body farm! And not just any body farm! This one is helping Katrina Spade with her Urban Death Project. It's here she's trying to figure out the magical soil mixture to quickly and efficiently compost human bodies! This is something I'd found out about through Caitlin and have been watching ever since because I would freaking LOVE to be compost and then go into a garden or a park! That would be absolutely perfect for me! So I'm hoping this is a thing by the time I die, but after reading this chapter, I realize I need to hold off on dying for awhile because while it's possible to compost big animals at a rapid rate, there's a lot of wasteful stuff that goes into that and this project is all about being eco-friendly, sooo...there's still more experimentation to go. But I'm on board! Oh, and also? This chapter will teach you all about the magical whale fall. It's pretty amazing stuff. Spain: Barcelona Oh! A critical piece! Caitlin journeys to Spain to conduct interviews with the National Press regarding Spain’s treatment of death. It seems they like to put death on display, complete with glass barrier keeping the living from the deceased. Though Caitlin was asking critical questions of Spain's funeral industry, Altima Funeral Home, Google-headquarters-meets-Church-of-Scientology...minimalist, hypermodern, projecting the potential for cultlike activity agreed to give her a tour of their sleek facilities. She learned that families can choose sepultura or incinerar for their dead and because of Catholicism not having the most positive views on cremation, many still choose sepultura except in Seville where there is no room, no room! so the government subsidizes cremation for its citizens. Also, there’s not a lot of embalming going on because Spain is pretty quick to dispose of its no-longer-living. Like many European countries, graves in Spain are often recycled, the bony inhabitants exhumed and given eternal rest in communal bone pits. I assume some families have mausoleums for their bones, but that’s just a leap I’m making on my own. Caitlin gets to see a cremation and she continues to be puzzled by the glass that offers both transparency and a barrier to death. You can probably tell I wasn’t as interested while reading this. It seemed pretty cut and dry, like something that would happen here, Stateside, except for the grave exhumations but that’s something I’d already encountered sooo… moving on. Japan: Tokyo NO! She did not go to visit Aokigahara, though she did just talk about Aokigahara in a recent video. Caitlin went to Japan for other death reasons: But before you learn about those, you’ll learn about Hachiko, a story you’ve probably already heard, and the death of Sony’s robo-dogs. (Happier follow-up story can be found here) So the first reason was to see Koukokuji Buddhist Temple and Yajima jushoku’s technological upgrade to the old columbarium, which you may have heard about when it took over the news a few years back, and now I want to go there and see it! It sounds amazing. The second reason was to learn more about the family’s role in cremation ceremonies. Unlike Spain, Japan has the highest cremation rate in the world but they don’t get a bunch of ashes in a bag like we do. Instead, after the incineration is complete, the family stands around the ash tray (because that’s kind of literally what it is, though I doubt that’s what it’s called) to pick out the leftover bones with chopsticks. They put the bones in an urn and take the turn home. The custom is called kotsuage and it sounds like an awfully nice way to continue to care for your loved one after death. Then Caitlin finds the hotel of her dreams. It’s a corpse hotel. It’s pretty freaking awesome and I’m not sure why this isn’t a thing in all first-world countries that haven’t figured out a good way for people to deal with death. She also visits the super high-tech Daitokuin Ryogoku Ryoen, a multisensory temple and graveyard. Seriously, this chapter is worth the price of the book. It’s illuminating! Bolivia: La Paz Caitlin’s traveling the world with her friend, Paul, again! This time, they go to Bolivia to meet skulls. It’s the kind of anthropological tale I’ve been waiting for! I was a tad bitter that there was no photo of Sandra, the fancy natita who had her picture taken that day. There's only a very nice illustration. Don't worry, I found her on Instagram. That may even be Caitlin holding her, since she was charged with hanging out with Sandra while Sandra's...landlady? Roommate? Minion? Caretaker? The person with whom Sandra lives and upon whom Sandra grants favors - found her something nice to wear for the picture. While I don’t have much to say about this chapter, it was my favorite. California: Joshua Tree Caitlin talks a little about her job at her funeral home, Undertaking LA which segues into a discussion on natural burials, specifically those in Joshua Tree Memorial Park. Afterward, she discusses her preferred mode of corpse management, the one she’d most like to have if only it were an option. But it’s not for two reasons. 1) It’s not something we do in America and, 2) read the book and find out for yourself. I liked this chapter because she brings death back around to a personal level. We’ve seen what other cultures do and now we need to think about how we want to approach our own deaths and care for the deceased that start showing up in everyone’s lives eventually. (hide spoiler)] So that's the book. And I liked it, obviously. I just didn't love it like I'd wanted. Side note: I am interested to find out the title of her next book. She's covered a song lyric, a movie title...what's next? A dance move? Only time will tell.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    This author is so awesome. I want to go to her funeral facility when I pass. More to come.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    3.5 Stars This was an interesting non-fiction book that explored a variety of non-traditional burial practices (non-traditional by North American standards, at least). Even though this book dealt with the topic of grief, it was not creepy, but rather try to normalize the topic, taking out the fear that tends to surround dead bodies. I particularly liked the sections about fire burning in Colorado as well as the section on Japanese traditions.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)

    This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books. This was such an interesting listen! I have been wanting to read this book since I learned of its existence. I find the way that we handle death as humans to be a topic that I never tire from. When I first picked up Caitlin Doughty's debut novel, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, I had my doubts but decided to read a few pages just to see what I thought. I couldn't put it down and it is a book that I frequently recommend to others today. I we This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books. This was such an interesting listen! I have been wanting to read this book since I learned of its existence. I find the way that we handle death as humans to be a topic that I never tire from. When I first picked up Caitlin Doughty's debut novel, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, I had my doubts but decided to read a few pages just to see what I thought. I couldn't put it down and it is a book that I frequently recommend to others today. I went into this audiobook with pretty high expectations and I am thrilled that the book was able to meet them. In this book, the author travels the world to see how death is handled in a variety of cultures. It was a very eye-opening journey for me. I had no idea how little I actually knew about this topic. I thought that in the United States the options for dealing with a loved one's remains consisted of a choice between burial and cremation. I had no idea that in one community, residents have the option of an open-air pyre. Why don't we have this everywhere? I was amazed by the variety of customs associated with dying. In this book, we see communities that keep the corpses of loved ones with them for rather long periods of time continuing their relationship with the deceased. There were a variety of rituals from around the world explained. Some of the scenes were quite vivid. While I don't think that I want to rush to practice some of the traditions explained in this book, I really liked being able to see how variations of how people around the world look at the process of death. In some ways, I think that a lot of cultures have a much healthier relationship with the dead. They prepare the bodies and care for the dead while in the United States, we are removed from the process leaving it to the professionals. This book is narrated by the author. I think that she did a great job with the reading of this book. The book covers things and events that the author has seen so I think that she was able to deliver the story in a manner that nobody else would have been able to do. I thought that she had a very pleasant voice and I found it easy to listen to this book for long periods of time. I ended up listening to the entire book in a single day and found that I liked the narration more and more as I made my way through the book. I would recommend this book to others. I love the way that this author is able to educate others on the process of death and dying in an entertaining manner. I found this book to be quite thought-provoking and I feel like I learned a thing or two. I could easily see myself reading this book again at some point in the future and I can't wait to check out some of the author's other works. Initial Thoughts This was really interesting. I think that there are a lot of problems with the way that death is handled in the US. I found some of the practices in other countries were very eye-opening. I am not going to sign up for a lot of the rituals described in this book but it did make me think about what kind of changes I would like to see closer to home. The author did a good job narrating the book. Book source: Purchased

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    Who says death can't be fun? Well, maybe not death as in the process of dying, but a a good book about death? Sure, it can be lots of fun! In "From Here to Eternity", Caitlin Doughty takes us to several countries around the world, detailing their practices with their dead. At times quite macabre (this is a book about death, afterall), it is nonetheless a most interesting book. Ms. Doughty mixes wit and sarcasm with fascinating details, making this one delightful book to read! Why is it each cult Who says death can't be fun? Well, maybe not death as in the process of dying, but a a good book about death? Sure, it can be lots of fun! In "From Here to Eternity", Caitlin Doughty takes us to several countries around the world, detailing their practices with their dead. At times quite macabre (this is a book about death, afterall), it is nonetheless a most interesting book. Ms. Doughty mixes wit and sarcasm with fascinating details, making this one delightful book to read! Why is it each culture thinks their own way to handle the dead is the only right way, whilst all others are disturbing, disgusting, and disrespectful? Perhaps we in the West, especially in the USA where the death industry is just like everything else in this country -- capitalism gone crazy -- have something to learn from the way other cultures honor their dead. Perhaps we are too divorced from the process, stifling our healing and grief and fearing death in a way we need not. We venture to Japan where the practice of kotsuage involves the mourners using chopsticks to gently place the bones of a partially-cremated body into urns. We visit Tana Toraja in Indonesia where they have a ritual known as ma'nene' where the dead are periodically pulled from their graves, cleaned and dressed, talked to, and given food and cigarettes. We visit Spain and Italy, Tibet and Mexico, Bolivia and the USA, learning about the customs, rituals, and attitudes concerning the dead. Some people might find this book a little too disturbing. However, for those who can handle thinking about death and who have an open mind to other cultures and their practices, this is a most fascinating and fun read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*

    I didn't enjoy this quite as much as Doughty's previous book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, but some parts were really interesting (Himalayan vultures with nine-foot wing spans) and others quite moving (people grieving their dead children). I didn't enjoy this quite as much as Doughty's previous book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, but some parts were really interesting (Himalayan vultures with nine-foot wing spans) and others quite moving (people grieving their dead children).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Victoria ♡

    This book was so interesting! It really got me thinking tbh. Recommend Caitlin's books to everyone they're so good!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karyl

    This is an absolute must-read. Here in America, we are so separated from death. It is something to be feared, kept away from, hidden behind expensive caskets and embalming and services in a "multisensory experience room" (p. 234). Our dead are basically ripped from us, held in morgues and funeral homes, with little transition from the state of living to being buried in a cemetery or being resigned to the flames during cremation. Doughty's point during this book isn't a tour of the world's strang This is an absolute must-read. Here in America, we are so separated from death. It is something to be feared, kept away from, hidden behind expensive caskets and embalming and services in a "multisensory experience room" (p. 234). Our dead are basically ripped from us, held in morgues and funeral homes, with little transition from the state of living to being buried in a cemetery or being resigned to the flames during cremation. Doughty's point during this book isn't a tour of the world's strangest burial habits (and if this is what you take away from it, you've totally missed the point). Instead, it's to show how other cultures who are more in tune with death and how to process it and grieve can be seen as having a healthier relationship with death than we do in the western world. In Japan, the families are given special chopsticks with which to gather the bones of their loved ones after cremation. In Bolivia, certain skulls becomeñatitas, a liaison between living and the dead. In Indonesia, bodies are kept at home until they have their funerals (which can be years away), and then in certain rituals, the mummified bodies are taken out and cleaned, and the families spend time with them as they would any other family member. These practices might seem barbaric to us, but then it's just a different way of dealing with the dead. It may behoove us to be more connected to our dead to allow us to grieve in a more healthy way. We've lost our intimacy with death, even though one day we will all pass away, and now it's an expensive proposition to die in America. Doughty wants us to think about how we can begin to fix the extortionist death industry in America, and perhaps open our eyes to other methods that may be cheaper and better for us emotionally. Read this book with an open mind, and I can almost guarantee that you may change your mind about the way the death industry works in America.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This was not what I was expecting, which was a SGIYE part two. This is very much an informational nonfiction rather than a memoir, though there are memoir-esque elements about the companions Caitlin travelled with. This is a great overview of death rituals around the world, but not an in depth resource for death geeks. My favorite chapter was about Japan, as there were more details that helped me understand their rituals and culture. I wish Caitlin had been more present in the text as she was in This was not what I was expecting, which was a SGIYE part two. This is very much an informational nonfiction rather than a memoir, though there are memoir-esque elements about the companions Caitlin travelled with. This is a great overview of death rituals around the world, but not an in depth resource for death geeks. My favorite chapter was about Japan, as there were more details that helped me understand their rituals and culture. I wish Caitlin had been more present in the text as she was in SGIYE. I would still recommend this though and read anything else she publishes.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Katie.dorny

    A journey around the world about death and grief. It was eye opening, enjoyable and thought provoking.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sonja Arlow

    3 ½ stars I absolutely LOVED Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory. It was a quirky memoir of an inexperienced cremation assistant finding her feet in a macabre and sometimes quite depressing industry. But Caitlin has grown up, the funeral business is no longer just funny anecdotes but an industry that sometimes hurt the grieving more than help by making the final goodbye so absurdly clinical that it loses its humanity. This book follows Caitlin around the world exploring di 3 ½ stars I absolutely LOVED Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory. It was a quirky memoir of an inexperienced cremation assistant finding her feet in a macabre and sometimes quite depressing industry. But Caitlin has grown up, the funeral business is no longer just funny anecdotes but an industry that sometimes hurt the grieving more than help by making the final goodbye so absurdly clinical that it loses its humanity. This book follows Caitlin around the world exploring different ways in which cultures revere, fear, celebrate and even at times resurrect the dead. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Mexico and their festival of the dead, the FOREST project and grave renting. Sky burial featured in book 1 and this one explores the concept further. I am open to other possibilities for burial but still balk a little at the thought of this one. Caitlin REALLY lays into the Western funeral industry and yes, she has valid points however not everyone wants a bohemian funeral pyre in the forest for grandma. I think what she is trying to convey is that in death, as in life there should not be a one sizes fits all. This book didn’t flow for me as well as the first one, but I have rounded up my rating to 4 stars as I think it’s a great book even if it’s just for the discussions it will spark.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Renner

    Few life events affect us more than the death of a loved one. At times, it can seem that grief is monolithic, but not every culture deals with death and grief in the same way. The death culture of the US endeavors to paint a pleasing facade over what we consider macabre. Embalmers camouflage the reality of the grave with chemicals and adornments. Cemeteries wall off the dead behind stone, concrete, and coffin wood. In her nonfiction book From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find Few life events affect us more than the death of a loved one. At times, it can seem that grief is monolithic, but not every culture deals with death and grief in the same way. The death culture of the US endeavors to paint a pleasing facade over what we consider macabre. Embalmers camouflage the reality of the grave with chemicals and adornments. Cemeteries wall off the dead behind stone, concrete, and coffin wood. In her nonfiction book From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death , Caitlin Doughty delves into death cultures around the globe, thus casting a stark contrast between our national death avoidance and cultures that literally take death into their arms. On her binge of thanotourism, Doughty investigated cultures in Belize, Indonesia, Mexico, Japan, Spain, and Bolivia in addition to small enclaves within the United States. She found two striking commonalities between cultures that don’t deny or try to hide the inevitability of death, in other words, “death positive” cultures. The first is that these cultures live closely with the dead and are not afraid to touch their bodies or their relics. For example, the people of Tana Toraja, Indonesia celebrate ma’nene , during which they exhume the bodies of their loved ones to clean and commune with the mummies. In Bolivia, many households keep ñatitas , skulls of the dead believed to possess a sacred link with the divine. The second commonality is that, in death positive cultures, the living feel a sense of purpose in caring for the dead. In Mexico, during the famous Dia de los Muertos, families bring offerings to the graves of their loved ones to share a night with their returned spirits. Even in Japan, custom dictates that family members pick through the deceased’s ashes with chopsticks and deposit their bones into an urn. Doughty brings the life of these cultures to the page with vivid details, some of which aren’t for the faint of heart. However, Doughty’s appealing, insightful, often sarcastic voice makes this morbid topic approachable. This clear writing prowess in combination with her experience as a Los Angeles mortician allow Doughty to make effective contrasts between American death culture and what she believes are healthier attitudes towards death. “In my practice as a mortician,” says Doughty, “I’ve found that both cleaning the body and spending time with it serves a powerful role in processing grief. It helps mourners see the corpse not as a cursed object, but as a beautiful vessel that once held their loved one.” Despite her Anthony-Bordainesque adventures, Doughty’s message is clear: she wants her American readers to reassess not only how they view death but how they perform grief. She wants Americans to turn away from “business models, upselling families on mahogany caskets and marble headstones” but saving the talk of death until the last minute to a culture that speaks openly about death and honors our dead and our environment instead of building walls to protect ourselves from reality. NOTE: I received a digital arc of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Want to read more of my reviews? Stay in touch by: Following me on social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads. Following this blog. 🙂 Signing up for my mailing list here. Before you try to pitch me your own book, please note that I am closed to book review requests at this time. However, you can read my review policy for when I open them back up again.

  24. 5 out of 5

    TheYALibrarian

    Rating 5 Stars I really can't find any reason to complain about Caitlin Doughty and her grim but amusing books on her experiences with death. Especially as she walks hand in hand with the reaper on a daily basis as a mortician; a job I could never do myself but have always been curious about. This book however is more on the customs and traditions of families all over the world when it is time for someone to leave their mortal coil behind. For what I have read from what Caitlin has experienced, th Rating 5 Stars I really can't find any reason to complain about Caitlin Doughty and her grim but amusing books on her experiences with death. Especially as she walks hand in hand with the reaper on a daily basis as a mortician; a job I could never do myself but have always been curious about. This book however is more on the customs and traditions of families all over the world when it is time for someone to leave their mortal coil behind. For what I have read from what Caitlin has experienced, there are countless ways to go about this whether they be obscene or wonderful is up to ones own opinion. Mine is much more on the fascinated side of things rather than horrified at the fact that some people keep their mummified grandfather in their house years after they pass and even go as far to sleep in the same bed as them. It puts a different perspective in the western customs I have grown up on and have experienced way too many times. Speaking of Western customs, after reading this I really hate them and I'm really upset that its the only choice I will have really when I go. It feels so cold and closed minded to just immediately stick your your dad into a funeral home to be put on a slab to be all made up for a wake viewing that and then soon after be cremated or buried. It all so rushed but its what we are used to and never really think anything is wrong about it. But now I can't help but feeling so, especially when looking at traditions such as Dios Los Muertos. I was familiar with this celebration before reading this book but I never realized how amazing it seems. It is a day of celebrating and remembering your loved ones. To respect them by hanging out at their grave all day, giving offerings and decorating with candles and marigold petals. It makes it feel so cold and upsetting to know that I'm just going to end up six feet under and my body will be left there alone to decay until one of my family member's come to visit. But when they do visit it it will be brief and I will be left there alone once again. Being cremated into an urn doesn't seem much different either and I especially don't want to that out of fear that once my close family passes and everything changes that my urn will just end up lost somewhere so I guess it would be better to have my urn interred in a crypt somewhere but there will still be the problem of no celebrations, no joy and no spending time with the dead. I know this is pretty morbid to really ponder but I have always had a morbid side and Caitlin also pointed out how horrible the western systems is too. Anyway back to the book. I enjoyed all the stories and all the adventures Caitlin got to experience. I had some favorites but for some reason I'm blanking on them right now so I will have to go back to the audio or book to jog my memory so review to be continued and while I'm at it I think I'll start planning all my funeral arrangements so I can make this nightmare of western views and traditions happen as little as possible to me when my time is up.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    From Here to Eternity asks us to confront our bias against other cultures’ “savage” death rituals and see how they might be healthier than the usual Western approach of denying/hiding death. Many rituals Doughty observes are about maintaining a personal connection to the dead. In South Sulawesi, Indonesia, corpses remain with their families for months or years, preserved as mummies. Other destinations include a North Carolina body farm that is attempting to compost corpses and a Japanese columba From Here to Eternity asks us to confront our bias against other cultures’ “savage” death rituals and see how they might be healthier than the usual Western approach of denying/hiding death. Many rituals Doughty observes are about maintaining a personal connection to the dead. In South Sulawesi, Indonesia, corpses remain with their families for months or years, preserved as mummies. Other destinations include a North Carolina body farm that is attempting to compost corpses and a Japanese columbarium where you find your loved one’s remains using a smart card. A chapter set in Spain was the odd one out for me; it struck me as incomplete and not adding anything to the whole. Despite the book’s jokey asides and deliciously ghoulish black-and-white illustrations (by Landis Blair), Doughty is completely serious in her critique of standard Western attitudes toward death. Some may think a book like this would be too morbid for their tastes, but I can assure you Doughty is a charming and reassuring guide through the underworld. This certainly isn’t your average travel book, but it’s all the better for that. See my full review at Shiny New Books.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Shepherd

    To say Caitlin Doughty's sense of humor is a bit dark and macabre might be accurate, but it's very misleading. She's dead serious (pun intended) about her subject matter but approaches it with an intertwining of zeal and humor that is at once enlightening and entertaining. From Colorado, to Indonesia, to Mexico, to Japan, back to the states and North Carolina, off again to Spain, south to Bolivia, and finally California, Doughty takes us on a whirlwind tour of some of the world's most interestin To say Caitlin Doughty's sense of humor is a bit dark and macabre might be accurate, but it's very misleading. She's dead serious (pun intended) about her subject matter but approaches it with an intertwining of zeal and humor that is at once enlightening and entertaining. From Colorado, to Indonesia, to Mexico, to Japan, back to the states and North Carolina, off again to Spain, south to Bolivia, and finally California, Doughty takes us on a whirlwind tour of some of the world's most interesting death rituals. Her openminded inquisitiveness is infectious, challenging her readers to question their own conceptions about embalming, interment and cremation. I absolutely loved this book and believe it should be required reading for anyone making arrangements for the inevitable, for loved ones or yourself.

  27. 4 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    This didn’t blow me away like her first book, but it was still a pretty fascinating read. The cool illustrations added a lot, and were, I would imagine, more pleasant than actual photos would have been. The writing was a little flat and research paper-ish, though. I really wanted more of Doughty’s wacky personality.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    An odd book with an important message. Before reading this, I’ve never questioned why it’s so expensive to bury a loved one, but funerals are a business just like any other business. I appreciate that Caitlin Doughty is bringing awareness to options other than the $7000+ coffin, such as natural burial. In this book, she travels from the US to Indonesia, Spain, Mexico, Bolivia, Japan, and also mentions the death rituals of other countries such as India and Tibet. Some cultures are similar to the U An odd book with an important message. Before reading this, I’ve never questioned why it’s so expensive to bury a loved one, but funerals are a business just like any other business. I appreciate that Caitlin Doughty is bringing awareness to options other than the $7000+ coffin, such as natural burial. In this book, she travels from the US to Indonesia, Spain, Mexico, Bolivia, Japan, and also mentions the death rituals of other countries such as India and Tibet. Some cultures are similar to the US in that they prefer to be separated from their dead, while others will keep their dead relatives around for months (Indonesia) and dig up their mummified remains to hang out with them every few years, or they might keep the skulls of their family members around (ñatitas of Bolivia) to bring them good fortune. Again, as someone who has never questioned western burial traditions, some of this definitely seemed a bit bizarre at first, and while I certainly have no interest in keeping family mummies around, I believe there is an important conversation to be had here around what we actually want to happen when we die. Are we just buying coffins and vaults because that’s what we’re told to do? Are we avoiding thinking about it at all because it’s uncomfortable? What I think this book does really well is show that there isn’t one “right way” to be buried, no matter where you live, and it invites us to think about our deaths as what they are, a natural and inevitable occurrence that we should not be ashamed of or try to hide from. Likewise, we have a say in what happens to us, and there should be some serious reform in the US to provide us with cleaner, sustainable, and more affordable options. See more of my reviews: Blog // Instagram

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Reading this book gave me some good ideas for conversation starters! Doughty's last book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, was a "pull the curtains back" on the funerary industry piece, and I enjoyed that one immensely. This book follows a different logic altogether, instead of Doughty sharing information about her field, she is now learning right along with us as she travels to a few locations [Indonesia, Bolivia, Spain, Mexico, various locations in the US) and lea Reading this book gave me some good ideas for conversation starters! Doughty's last book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, was a "pull the curtains back" on the funerary industry piece, and I enjoyed that one immensely. This book follows a different logic altogether, instead of Doughty sharing information about her field, she is now learning right along with us as she travels to a few locations [Indonesia, Bolivia, Spain, Mexico, various locations in the US) and learns more about their rituals around death, burial practices, etc. 3.5/5

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erin Duerr

    If Jessica Mitford's "Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain" frightened us into facing the reality of dying in America, Caitlin Doughty's writing is like being hugged and told everything is going to be okay. Once again Doughty guides us along an entertaining, informative and empathetic journey through death culture and this time we get to travel the world as we do it. Just like her first book, this is a title I want to hand to people and say, "Read it and then let's talk."

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