How America Does Death, And What We Can Learn From Other Cultures
Death can be a taboo subject in the United States. Here, the process of dying to burial or cremation is handled by professionals, and often at a premium.
This means most Americans have only a brief glimpse of a loved one’s death.
But thanks, in part, to mortician Caitlin Doughty, more Americans now face down death by rethinking how they bury or cremate their loved ones.
Her newest book, From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death, critiques the American death industry by examining how different cultures work through the process of dying and death.
Doughty hopes Americans will reclaim some of the deeply spiritual aspects of facing death, and do it more socially and in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Every year, Americans bury 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid, 115 million tons of steel coffins, and 2.3 billion tons of concrete. This is often done at exorbitant cost by funeral providers, clouded by grief, and outside of the public eye. Worldview discusses more with Doughty, also the host of Ask A Mortician on YouTube.
Doughty spoke at the 2017 Chicago Humanities Festival. This year’s festival theme is “Belief”.