TITLE: From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death
AUTHOR: Caitlin Doughty
PUBLICATION DATE: October 3rd, 2017
GENRE: Non-fiction, Travel, History
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Death
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.
This book was just so fascinating! I’m currently in mortuary school, so it makes sense that I’d be attracted to a book that was written by a mortician about death. I wanted to learn more about death practices in other cultures and this is really a great book for that!
Caitlin traveled around the world to learn more about death in different cultures and I love how she did this as respectively as she could, plus acknowledged how tourism affects these practices.
I think it’s extremely interesting that death is practiced in widely different way around the world. A few of the practices touched on in this novel are: Día de Muertos, the beautiful columbarias in Japan, an open pyre in Colorado, and a ton more very interesting practices!
I love how she highlights how odd our death practices are here in the United States compared to the rest of the world. Death almost seems like a taboo here in the states, which as a future funeral director, I really don’t understand.
I wish more people would read this book! It is eye opening and just very fascinating! I also suggest checking out Caitlin Doughty’s YouTube channel, Ask a Mortician! She talks about all kinds of death related things on there! Give in to your morbid curiosity! I’m glad I did!