From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin DoughtyFascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty embarks on a global expedition to discover how other cultures care for the dead. From Zoroastrian sky burials to wish-granting Bolivian skulls, she investigates the world’s funerary customs and expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with dignity. Her account questions the rituals of the American funeral industry—especially chemical embalming—and suggests that the most effective traditions are those that allow mourners to personally attend to the body of the deceased. Exquisitely illustrated by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity is an adventure into the morbid unknown, a fascinating tour through the unique ways people everywhere confront mortality.
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But Doughty is a relentlessly curious and chipper tour guide to the underworld, and the weirder things get, the happier she seems. American death practices, she writes, have become brief, distant and sterile. In Japan, mourners practice kostuage, using chopsticks to transfer the cremated skeleton bits of their loved ones into urns. In a remote area of Indonesia, villagers mummify, dress, feed and even sleep beside their dead. Doughty lets us know she finds this as jarring as we do. Doughty is a likable, witty companion. Who knew there were so many ways to be dead?
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Thank you! In the follow-up to her well-received debut, Smoke Gets in your Eyes , a mortician delivers a wide-eyed report on burial customs across the world. In offering opposing perspectives that dignify, celebrate, and decorate the body in its expired state, Doughty hopes to do her part in spurring a reform of the funeral industry and to help change the squeamishness of Western attitudes toward death and the sanctity of the sacred burial. Her fascinating tour of rituals contains liturgies that readers will surely observe as rare, macabre, unbelievable, ancient, and precious—sometimes simultaneously. Glass also means a solid barrier. It allows you to come close but never quite make contact. Grimly enhanced by the artwork of Blair, these observances demonstrate how to diminish the stigma associated with death, burial, and eternal remembrance.