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. From Here to Eternity is an immersive global journey that introduces compelling, powerful rituals almost entirely unknown in America.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.With boundless curiosity and gallows humor, 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 D#65533;as 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.Exquisitely 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, New York : W.W. Norton & Company, ©2017.
ISBN: 9780393249897
Characteristics: xiii, 248 pages :,illustrations ;,22 cm
Additional Contributors: Blair, Landis - Illustrator

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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.

o
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

LPL_MargoM Oct 11, 2017

Caitlin Doughty's follow up to her memoir, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, is everything I want out of a nonfiction book about death and death culture. She treats the subject with a combination of respect and openness that the American public sorely needs. For fans of the "death culture book" genre (Stiff, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Working Stiff, The American Way of Death, etc...) this book is a welcome addition. To individuals who are a little wary or may want to learn more about the subject, the book is both intriguing and welcoming. If you're a little uncomfortable or don't think this book is for you, give it a try. It will surprise you.

e
erinduerr
Jun 09, 2017

If Jessica Mitford's "Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain" frightened us into facing the reality of dying in America, Caitlin Doughty's writing is like being hugged and told everything is going to be okay. Once again Doughty guides us along an entertaining, informative and empathetic journey through death culture and this time we get to travel the world as we do it.

Just like her first book, this is a title I want to hand to people and say, "Read it and then let's talk."

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