The magnificent, hilarous and always fascinating mortician Caitlin Doughty (Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes) is back with another intriguing look at death.
Death is inevitable. But the way Americans and many in the west act, it is something shameful and horrible that must be hidden away. People die in antiseptic hospitals, their bodies are whisked away, filled with toxic chemicals and painted up to appear as “life-like” as possible. Denial is the ideal.
Needless to say, this is not the standard in the rest of the world or throughout history. Many cultures have very rich death rites and rituals. From the most extreme in Indonesia -where family mummies are taken out, redressed and cleaned carefully with tiny brushes – to Mexico, where graves are visited yearly with flowers and food. Is there a right or wrong way to behave towards death and remember the dead? Do those who share a bed with their mummified grandfather (yes really) view their own final end different from those who may never see a dead body up close in their lives? What other options are there for our final remains beyond the standard burial or cremation?
Doughty travels the world, visiting and experiencing many death rites. She tries to offer and incorporate rituals that feel right the the dying and grieving family members in her business. Unique, thought-provoking and down-right funny at times.
Note: If you are interested in alternative burials in the midwest, visit my client/friend Anna Benton’s site End of Living Alternatives.