The book synopsis:
"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."I read Caitlin's other book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, (you may remember me talking about it) and I did enjoy that one but I liked this one more. This book is less about her and more about discovering how other cultures experience death and work through their grief.
It was interesting to read and one of the main themes is that most cultures think other culture's death rituals are "weird" or "disrespectful to the dead." I think we could all benefit from learning about other cultures and discovering that just because a tradition is different from ours, doesn't mean it's disrespectful.
The book isn't a comprehensive look at all cultures around the world, it's much too short for that, but it did make me want to learn more about the places she did talk about. Like the funeral pyre in Colorado and the forensic body lab in North Carolina. A few of these other cultures are in the US, it's more an exploration of what happens when people decide to do something different with their dead bodies then the traditional burial or cremation.
Pick up the book from the library when you're looking for a short non-fiction death book!