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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory. By Caitlin Doughty

An twenty-something's candid account and critique of death and the death industry working in an Oakland based crematory.

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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory. By Caitlin Doughty

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Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin's engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.

She demystifies death, leading us behind the black curtain of her unique profession. And she answers questions you didn’t know you had: Can you catch a disease from a corpse? How many dead bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? What exactly does a flaming skull look like?

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

“It is no surprise that the people trying to frantically extend our lifespans are almost entirely rich, white men. Men who have lived lives of systematic privilege, and believe that privilege should extend indefinitely” (228).

“Looking at the body you see yourself, and you know that you too will die. This visual is a call to self-awareness. It is the beginning of wisdom.” (174)

Tell us about your work experience:

Post-college I was a lab technician for Big Pharma. Currently, I'm in educational research. Core research interests: power, (in)equity, and access.

If you participated in an End of Life Storytelling Event, tell us which Chapter or city you came from:



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