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
Characteristics: xiii, 248 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


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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.

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.

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.

Nov 02, 2017


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.

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.

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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