From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death
How would you feel about your dead Aunt Julie taking up space in your dining room for, oh, 3 weeks? How about 7 years?
Let me guess, you wouldn’t.
Well, me either. But that is all irrelevant because that’s what they do in Indonesia, not in Minnesota. Thank god.
This is sort of a travel diary, albeit a morbid one. BUT, it's fascinating to see how other cultures see and process death. (Hint: it's WAY different than how we do it.)
As serious as the subject is, Caitlin is able to weave some humor throughout the book. Case in point: she describes the first mummy she saw in Indonesia (which was wearing ’80s aviator shades tinted yellow, obviously) as looking just like her middle school algebra teacher.
I LOVED the tidbit about how Japanese people use chopsticks to pick their deceased loved one's bones out of ashes and I could read about Sky Burials all day. I wish our culture was more open and willing to embrace death.
I didn't enjoy this as much as her first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory.
I probably shouldn't be comparing, though.
While all of the stories in From Here to Eternity were fascinating, some were more so than others. Overall, it's a great addition to the pile of Death Lit next to my bed.
Quotes from From Here to Eternity:
“Holding the space doesn’t mean swaddling the family immobile in their grief. It also means giving them meaningful tasks. Using chopsticks to methodically clutch bone after bone and place them in an urn, building an altar to invite a spirit to visit once a year, even taking a body from the grave to clean and redress it: these activities give the mourner a sense of purpose. A sense of purpose helps the mourner grieve. Grieving helps the mourner begin to heal.”
“Since I first discovered sky burial I have known what I wanted for my mortal remains. In my view burial by animals is the safest, cleanest, and most humane way of disposing of corpses, and offers a new ritual that might bring us closer to the realities of death and our true place on this planet.”
Are you repulsed by the idea of a book by this or do you love it? Why or why not?
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