Why books about death are essential to read??
Because death is one of the most taboo subjects.
We don’t want to talk about it, and we don’t want to even think about it. However, a specific category of people seems to have endless questions about death: Children.
We all know the trope of creepy children and their weird questions about the world and mostly about death. Caitlin got a lot of questions from children and had the great idea to gather them in a book.
Caitlin Doughty is a mortician, an activist and a best selling author. In 2011 she founded “The Order of the Good Death”a death acceptance collective aiming to spread a death positive movement. Caitlin host a webserie called “Ask a Mortician” and talks about the history of death culture, the rituals and the funeral industry.
Before this book, Caitlin authored 2 New York Times bestsellers “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and “From Here to Eternity” that I might order and read at some point because I (spoiler) loved this book.
I came upon this book… at a Christmas market! The Strand book store had a little stand in the market with a collection of books, tote bags, pins and socks. The book cover immediately caught my eye: Black kitty, death and a funny title? It checked all the box of my inner goth/witch/nerd adult. The cherry on top? It was a signed copy! I immediately bought it (along with a witchy tote bag).
The book is organised in short chapters, each answering a deathly question. The first chapter answer directly the title so at least you don’t have to hold your breath for the whole book (spoiler: they won’t eat them…right away). In the collection of questions, I was happy to find common myth like “what would happen if you swallow a bag of popcorn before you died and were cremated” (a classic) but also questions I would have never thought of, like “What would happen to an astronaut body in space?”, “Can we give Grandma a Viking funeral?” (very metal) and “Can I be buried in the same grave as my Hamster?” (creepy and cute).
Caitlin answer each question based on her own experience as a professional mortician with the perfect dose of humour. Whether the question calls for, she will describe the process of decomposition, methods of embalming, historical facts of Viking funeral (might have included a boat but surprisingly not on the sea!) but also the (American) laws governing the uses of human bodies (or pets) after death. The explanations are very complete, and Catlin tried to think about the all different way to answer each question.
Dianné Ruz beautifully illustrated the book. Each chapter has a dedicated illustration. Dianné style is a mixture of creepy and cute and fit perfectly with the general atmosphere of the book.
The book is destined to children (or futur corpse) of every age! I highly recommend it to everyone that is curious about death and what happens in a funeral home in a very laid back, yet instructive fashion. You might have some weird looks in the bus reading it, but it can open the discussion on this challenging subject.
With her book(s), Caitlin is helping to change our view of death and how we can discuss it.
In the end, don't be scared that kitty McMittens might eat your eyeballs after your death, kitty still need to eat and... You will be dead!
Here a picture of "Cachou" the beast that will potentially eat my own eyeball
There has been a period in my life where I grieved too many members of my family.
I had become accustomed to the family side of the process: funeral home, choosing casket and urns, picking the last outfit of the deceased and the organisation of the funeral.
I was glad to be able to know more about the other side and how funeral home works.