In the United States, burial and cremation at the hands of professionals seem like the only options for a body after death. Mortician and author Caitlin Doughty (Ask a Mortician, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes) has returned to explore death culture around the world, from Indonesia, where bodies are treated and cared for as if they are still alive and merely awaiting transition, to Spain, where death is a family affair even when the family is divided from the body by glass. The new book, From Here to Eternity, is a first-hand account of death culture around with the assistance of famous folks from The Order of the Good Death.
From Here to Eternity is a fantastic book that does not shy away from moments of humor and humility. There are moments where a pig must be acquired for sacrifice, where Doughty accidentally finds herself on Instagram accounts in other countries or occasionally in someone’s family photo. Doughty helps the reader comprehend the difficulties of facing death, as well as the importance of not being afraid of it, not letting the funeral industry take away the power of families.
Caitlin Doughty’s From Here to Eternity is a delight and was a great comfort to me when confronting the mortality of a recently deceased family member. We might not be able to stop death from coming, but we can learn to not be as afraid.
From Here to Eternity is available this October from WW Norton.