Appreciating the dark side of life since 1975.

Brightside Booklist: From Here to Eternity

Brightside Booklist: From Here to Eternity

How would you feel about your dead Aunt Julie taking up space in your dining room for, oh, 3 weeks? How about 7 years?

Let me guess, you wouldn’t.

Well, me either. But that is all irrelevant because that’s what they do in Indonesia, not in Minnesota. Thank god.

I read all about it in the bewitching book From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty  and I want you to read it, too! Here are some other tidbits from the book:

  • As serious as the subject is, Caitlin is able to weave some humor throughout the book. Case in point: she describes the first mummy she saw in Indonesia (which was wearing ’80s aviator shades tinted yellow, obviously) as looking just like her middle school algebra teacher.
  • In Colorado, you can be burned on a funeral pyre, in the open air, on a mountain if you want. I don’t know, that’s pretty cool, right?
  • You know how everyone has been going on and on about burying cremains with a seedling, so that your body can be turned into a fricking tree?Not happenin’. Seems obvious now, but all your DNA is burned up during cremation so there’s no way you’re fertilizing any trees.
  • In Japan, the custom after cremation is called kotsuage. This entails cremating the body, but not pulverizing it like we do in America. The large bones are still intact and, beginning with the feet, loved ones pick up the bones of their dead sisters with chopsticks and place them in an urn.
  • In Tibet, celestial burial is the norm. In a nutshell, your dead corpse is chanted over by Buddhist lamas while a rogyapa hacks and slices your body into pieces. And this isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is the vultures circling, waiting for the cue to dive in and have your body for lunch. If you dare, here is a video of a sky burial for your enjoyment (or terror). I AM SERIOUS. THERE ARE DEAD BODIES IN THIS VIDEO. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

For those of you who might get your panties in a bundle about Caitlin not respecting death, let me just tell you that she is the founder of The Order of the Good Death, which is a nonprofit aimed at increasing death positivity and changing the culture of death in America. She started out working in the funeral industry and wrote a FANTASTIC book about it: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory.

But I know that most of you are NOT pantie-bundlers and would enjoy Caitlin’s work. Have any of you read either of her books or follow her blog? She’s doing some good work and we could all benefit from staring death in the face. Do it!

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