Decomposure: Caitlin Doughty and The Order of the Good Death

Caitlin at home.

The University of Chicago Magazine just published my profile of Caitlin Doughty, the person that you really want to bury you. Caitlin’s a practicing mortician, the founder of The Order of the Good Death, and, according to some, “the Bill Nye of Death.” She produces the delightfully macabre web series “Ask A Mortician.” Here’s a link to the online version of the piece, though I prefer this, a pdf of the piece with more photos and a more sophisticated layout.

Caitlin tends to say things like this:

“All of these things that we’re doing, like embalming and heavy sealed caskets, to keep our body from going through that natural process [of decomposition] are denial mechanisms. They’re tangibly, factually denial mechanisms. That’s just a fact. You can think that’s more important than not – you can say, ‘oh but it’s very important that we do this because it’s what makes us human, its what makes us a more sentient, higher being.’ You can say that. But it is a lie that you’re telling yourself. I’m not saying that it’s not a beautiful lie and that it can’t mean a whole lot to people and can’t bring them great comfort in their time of death. But it is a lie.”

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