Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather's mummified body. Grandpa's mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette-smoking, wish-granting human skulls) and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved ones' bones from cremation ashes.
With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning - including a glowing Buddha columbarium in Japan and America's only open-air pyre - and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals.
Author bio: Mortician Caitlin Doughty - host and creator of Ask a Mortician and the New York Times best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - founded the death acceptance collective The Order of the Good Death and cofounded Death Salon. She lives in Los Angeles, where she runs her nonprofit funeral home, Undertaking LA.