I just finished reading Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty — author, mortician, and public advocate of the good death. The woman who recommended the book to me described it as “a good read, if you don’t mind morbid,” and so I braced myself slightly as I began Doughty’s reflections on death, corpses and working in the funeral industry.
The fact that I didn’t find the book morbid (sure, there was plenty of talk about the smells and sounds and sights of death, but nothing that I wouldn’t read while eating) tells me that I must not mind morbid. This might have something to do with the fact that one of my numerous part-time jobs is in hospital chaplaincy. Though nothing in comparison to Doughty, I do spend a decent amount of time with dead people. This has normalized death — the sounds, smells and sights of it, but also the inevitability of it — for me, making it seem less morbid and more like an ordinary fact of life. Read more