BOOK REVIEW: From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty


Publication Date: October 9, 2018
Format: Paperback
Genre:  Non-fiction, death, dying

Publisher: WW Norton & Co     
288 pages
Buy:  Kindle Paperback 


Fascinated 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.


I received found this book through the book club Literati

I have always been fascinated with the topic of death and dying.  Of course half way through reading this book we had the unfortunate discovery that my step-daughter had died of an overdose.  After a few weeks I thought this book might bring me more closure since we were unable to view the body due to her not being found for 5 days.  

Its a tremendous loss for our family and a devastating blow to my heart. I picked the book back up which may seem insane to some but for me reading about death and death rituals while going through this grief was comforting to me.  What I found is that there are so many different ways in which people dead with the dead.  Different rituals, some more modern some very cold.  I think that the United States has one of the coldest views on death and dying.  

The modern funeral industry is a money making enterprise.  Luckily we found one that didn't balk at us not want embalming, or fancy expensive urns when we plan on scattering her ashes.  However in reading through this book there are so many really interesting ideas that are cropping up.  From the open air funeral pyre in Colorado to the light up Buddhas and the death hotel in Japan, to human composting. Its fascinating how different cultures handle death and grief.  It really made me think about what I want, and how we could improve funerals for the family and friends who are grieving. 

If you are a fan of Mary Roach you will love this book, if you've never heard of her or Caitlin Doughty and would like to learn more about death and dying I highly recommend both authors.  In fact I went and bought Doughty's other two books.  

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