From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death (Hardcover)

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Caitlin Doughty, a mortician by trade and founder of The Order of the Good Death, takes her readers on a global journey to discover how people care for their dead in different parts of the world. From open air pyres in Colorado to Indonesia where mummies continue to live with their families after passing, Doughty lets us in on the rituals and customs that give people comfort and make space for them to be held during times of grief. None of these practices are fetishized or shamed, and in fact, she spends a fair portion of the book indicting deathcare in the western world. Her humorous writing style and a subject that isn’t often discussed make this an enjoyable and enlightening read! ~Kinsey
— From Kinsey's Picks


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 Dias 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.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393249897
ISBN-10: 0393249891
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2017
Pages: 272
Language: English