From Here to Eternity

From Here to Eternity

Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

Book - 2017
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Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for the dead. In rural Indonesia, she watches a man clean and dress his grandfather's mummified body, which has resided in the family home for two years. In La Paz, she meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette-smoking, wish-granting human skulls), and in Tokyo she encounters the Japanese kotsuage ceremony, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved-ones' bones from cremation ashes. Doughty vividly describes decomposed bodies and investigates the world's funerary history. She introduces deathcare innovators researching body composting and green burial, and examines how varied traditions, from Mexico's Diás de los Muertos to Zoroastrian sky burial help us see our own death customs in a new light. Doughty contends that the American funeral industry sells a particular -- and, upon close inspection, peculiar -- set of 'respectful' rites: bodies are whisked to a mortuary, pumped full of chemicals, and entombed in concrete. She argues that our expensive, impersonal system fosters a corrosive fear of death that hinders our ability to cope and mourn. By comparing customs, she demonstrates that mourners everywhere respond best when they help care for the deceased, and have space to participate in the process. Illustrated by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity is an adventure into the morbid unknown, a story about the many fascinating ways people everywhere have confronted the very human challenge of mortality.
Publisher: New York :, W.W. Norton & Company,, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780393249897
0393249891
Characteristics: xiii, 248 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm

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liljables Apr 09, 2018

I loved Caitlin Doughty's "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," and this was an excellent follow-up/companion to that memoir. "From Here to Eternity" explores death and grieving rituals from around the world, allowing the reader to contemplate the concept of "the good death". This book tells a less personal story than "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" - it's more of a death-themed travelogue - but it's just as readable, and it will (hopefully) leave you questioning why we cling so tightly to our sterile, impersonal, expensive, and needlessly commercial death rituals here in North America.

v
VyshB
Mar 22, 2018

I love Caitlin's AskAMortician videos, so I thought I'd give this a try. Fascinating examination of death culture around the world, crammed with lots of interesting death-related tid-bits that I've never heard of. I have my own anxieties and complicated feelings towards death and funerals, but I couldn't put this down. I especially appreciate that she was very careful to treat every death ritual with respect and that she centered women's voices and lives throughout the whole book. Highly recommend.

w
Wattage
Mar 21, 2018

It's so interesting how different cultures view the process of death and afterlife.

OPL_AutumnH Mar 16, 2018

This was a great companion to Doughty's first book. The death rituals in various cultures were fascinating to learn about, and this took my thoughts and conversations about death to the next level.

DBRL_ReginaF Mar 07, 2018

I loved reading this book! I hope that we have managed to find a better way to eternity by the time I get there.

h
hrcoble
Jan 28, 2018

I really enjoyed this book - it was fun and interesting to learn about death practices and funeral rights around the world. My only complaint was that it was too short! (And it wasn't that short). I really enjoyed the Festival of the Natitas in Bolivia, in which people celebrate dressed up skulls.

l
laphampeak
Jan 21, 2018

From Here to Eternity is a brilliant complement to the recent publication of writings on more conscious choices individuals have about how they age as in Atul Gawande's Bein Mortal: What Matters Most in the End. Caitlin Doughty brings it to a whole when she taunts awareness to different culture's rituals and meanings to the disposition (or not) of one's remains. Always insightful and with doses of humor Doughty again opens our eyes to choices in an area of mortality that, as Americans, we generally take for granted in modern tradition.

OPL_ErinD Dec 19, 2017

Once again Caitlin Doughty has written a book that I keep trying to put into people's hands. Told by one of the leaders of the Death Positive movement, "From Here to Eternity" is an entertaining, informative and empathetic journey through death culture around the world.

m
myrtleturtle06
Nov 02, 2017

Indonesia

AL_KATI Oct 17, 2017

Amazing. Doughty treats the somewhat taboo subject of death culture with grace and just enough humor to make you relax when thinking about the inevitable death we're all facing.

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