greggr
3 years ago1,000+ Views
Ask a Mortician: Writing from the Crematorium
Death is scary, and it's often something that none of us what to discuss. Still, we must face it every day: it affects our relationships, our jobs, our commutes, and every other aspect of our lives in some way. So why are we so afraid to talk about it? One mortician, Caitlin Doughty, finds that she is not afraid. Instead, she writes and talks about her field, and the idea of death, more than most people would be comfortable with. Why? According to a recent interview with NPR, that is because "she deals with a lot," so she writes about it. She sees things that most of us never know, and to be able to talk about it, she has to think about it a lot. And when you think about something a lot, you often end up writing about it. She is also the founder of The Order of the Good Death, a group of funeral industry professionals, academics and artists who focus on the rituals families perform with their dead and how the industry disposes of dead bodies. In additional to writing about death, she also runs a web series "Ask a Mortician" in which people can ask her the questions they've always wondered, but have never been able to ask. (Check out the video above about what happens to breast implants and hip replacements after cremation; it's really interesting.) Caitlin once romanticized the idea of crematorium work; but once she started actually working as a technician, she found that the work is very industrial. And, there is a lot of inorganic bone that isn't burnt up with all the organic material, and that's what we know today as "ashes." To quote Caitlin: "And there's so much of it [bone matter] that it can, when you're taking it out of the machine, get on you and get into strange little places that you didn't even know you had." Spooky, right? Still, the experience working there helped Caitlin learn about death in a more serious way. She realized that if she thought of each body on a hugely emotional level, she wouldn't be able to do her work, but she wants readers of her book to realize that "death is going to happen to you — whether you want it to or not — and you're never going to be completely comfortable with it. But it's an important process, and please consider facing it." Recently, NPR sat down with Caitlin: hear the full interview here: http://www.npr.org/2014/10/08/352765943/a-mortician-talks-openly-about-death-and-wants-you-to-too Then, check out her book: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes And Other Lessons from the Crematory
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@caricakes Not my ideal line of work either, but it's great that she was able to find inspiration and stories she wants to tell out if. This is really proof that you can write about anything (and people do!)
3 years ago·Reply
I'm curious about the book itself: does it go into any grimy details of the position, or is it more focused on what we should learn from the idea of death? Hopefully, a bit of both? @greggr
3 years ago·Reply
@nehapatel I haven't yet read the book, just the interview! She gives some idea that it does go into the grimy bits, but not so disgusting as to scare you away. She does more of that in her Youtube series, I believe. Ordered the book so I'll let you know after I read it.
3 years ago·Reply
@greggr Interesting; I'll check out her series to see if I like her style before purchasing the book. Thanks
3 years ago·Reply
People really can write about anything!! I wonder if she did initially start writing because she needed to get these things off her mind, or if it had more to do with already enjoying writing.
3 years ago·Reply
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