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From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World…

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death (edition 2017)

by Caitlin Doughty (Author)

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3161850,306 (4.28)17
Title:From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death
Authors:Caitlin Doughty (Author)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2017), Edition: 1, 272 pages
Collections:Read, Your library
Tags:death, nonfiction, travel, read in 2017

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From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty


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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Doughty's previous book, [b: Smokes Gets In Your Eyes|17281643|Smoke Gets In Your Eyes|Louise Marley|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1358987248s/17281643.jpg|2738209], offers a revelatory look at the internal workings of the funeral business. While in that book Doughty made a very strong claim for the need for funeral reform, the case remained a bit incomplete. Yes, there are very few death rituals that still exist strongly within the United States - but how to create new ones? What still exists in the world, and why does it work or not work? [b: From Here to Eternity|116114|From Here to Eternity|James Jones|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1330924946s/116114.jpg|2504920] was a natural follow up to answer those questions, and the book did so in an astonishingly beautiful and graceful way.

Anyone with a cursory interest in Anthropology likely already knows about the wide variety of death rituals that exist in the world. The two most basic - burial and cremation - are the most obvious. However, there still exist sky burials and mummification, and some even stranger (to our Western eyes) practices cling on in an ever changing world. Doughty made a wise decision to focus on the more esoteric, and touching. The traditions that may have been around for millenia, and how traditional views are now evolving. Here we learn of mummified corpses dug up every few years and lovingly tended to - dressed and spoken to, relationships formed and solidified that treat the ancestors as merely sleeping rather than gone. Here we learn of angelitos, the dead babies treated as saints and loved and honored after death, never having been touched by sin. We learn how technology can ease the pain of death by allowing us quicker access to cremated remains, while it also can prevent us from properly saying goodbye by erecting a glass barrier between us and the dead.

These books have opened my eyes to the concept of a good death, and made me much more comfortable thinking and talking about the end. It only does damage both to us and our families by being deterred and disgusted by the process. There are so many ways to ease grief, to properly say goodbye, and to better our world through a better understanding of ourselves. If only sky burial was still acceptable the world over, and if only green burial and other natural processes more widely accepted and available. ( )
1 vote Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Here I am talking about death again. Part of me worries that 'harping' on about this subject and these books will turn away the average reader to my blog but the larger part of me (and the one who runs things) believes that if I am going to be authentic with my reviews then I have to follow my mood with what books I voluntarily choose to read. That being said, I'm here to talk about Caitlin Doughty's second book From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death. As the title suggests, this is a bit more of a travelogue piece about the death industry. This book explores in depth the way that death is viewed, celebrated, and treated in different countries and cultures. [A/N: I don't know that it needs to be necessarily spelled out but just in case: This book is not for those who shy away from talk of decomposition and graphic depictions of death in general.] Caitlin visits places both far-flung and just around the riverbend all in search of what she terms the Good Death. (For more info visit her website to see if you'd like to join her group.) She attended an open air cremation where the body is laid atop a pyre and the ceremony is experienced by all members of the community (Colorado). In Japan the families are brought in after the body has been cremated so that they can extricate the bones by chopstick to place them in an urn for safekeeping. She experienced Fiesta de las Ñatitas in La Paz and spoke to those who celebrate these saints by collecting and displaying shrunken skulls (and in some cases mummified heads). One of my favorite places that she described was the Corpse Hotel in Japan where you can visit your deceased family member in the comfort and splendor of an upscale hotel. Overall, From Here to Eternity is a fascinating look at the way that death is addressed by various cultures around the world. It serves as a sobering reminder that death is not accepted but rather feared here in America. If you are interested in the ways that others approach death and how they treat their dead (some cultures revisit the dead to clean and redress them as a sign of honor and remembrance) then I urge you to read this book. 9/10 ( )
  AliceaP | Apr 13, 2018 |
This was an interesting looks at death rituals around the world. Definitely not good for people who are squeamish. From funeral pyres in Colorado, the Torjans in Indonesia who dig up their relatives every couple of years so they can snap a couple of pictures with them and hang out, the death culture of Mexico as depicted in the art of Frida Kahlo, to the composting of the dead in North Carolina all manners of curious customs are explored. This is like a travelogue of death. What is universal in all of the stories is the love people have for their family that passes and their need to be cared for in their time of pain. Although this book is unlikely to make anyone start keeping Grandma's skull on the shelf for luck it was a fascinating look at how different cultures approach the universal human condition of death. ( )
  arielfl | Apr 11, 2018 |
After finishing SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES, I knew I wanted to pick this one up right away.

Unlike SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY isn’t quite as personal. We get more death customs and less “I really liked this guy and it went badly”. Which is a good thing if you’re more into the death stuff than the love stuff (like me!).

Doughty did a really great job of alternating death customs. We went from Western cremation to having dead relatives in the living room for years to Japan’s high tech funeral homes. Even though I am not interested in westernized death practices, I still found those chapters interesting enough and they didn’t slow the book down. Doughty definitely has a way with pacing.

There was also a self-awareness in this book that I really loved. At one point, Doughty is talking about a tourist who was basically interrupting a death ceremony to get a picture. When the opportunity arises for Doughty and her friend to get a “backstage view” of an exhumation, she realizes that she isn’t much better than that tourist. It was nice to see her realize that even though she was invited and many places do have death tourism, we’re still interlopers.

I personally hope Doughty continues her search for the good death… and brings us along every step of the way! ( )
  DearRosieDear | Mar 22, 2018 |
A fascinating tour of death traditions around the world, from Japan, where 99% of people are cremated to Indonesia, where a small segment of people keep the mummified remains of their loved ones with them for years to Mexico, where The Day of the Dead honors loved ones who have died to mountains in southeaster U.S., where there are (my favorite) plans for recomposition - turning corpses into compost.

Caitlin Doughty's main message is that we need ways to ritualize death and honor our loved ones who have died. Here in the U.S. we are not (generally speaking, of course) very good at this. Her world tour of death rituals allows the reader insight into other traditions, tacitly giving us permission to create our own and recognize what might work for us. ( )
  lisalangford | Feb 26, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Caitlin Doughtyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blair, LandisIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Adults who are racked with death anxiety are not odd birds who have contracted some exotic disease, but men and women whose family and culture have failed to knit the proper protective clothing for them to withstand the icy chill of mortality.
--Irvin Yalom, Psychiatrist
For Mom & Dad--
& all other parents who let weird kids be weird.
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The phone rang and my heart raced.
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Describes death customs and rituals from around the world, exploring how they compare to the impersonal American system and how mourners respond best when they participate in caring for the deceased.

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