a university of chicago graduate meets death
Collector’s Weekly interviews Caitlin Doughty, who has a new book on the funerary industry in America. How she got started:
I guess it was serendipitous. I was always very into death in school, studying Medieval death rituals and the Victorian Gothic at the University of Chicago. … At the University of Chicago, you don’t do a lot of hands-on, practical things for the most part. And if you go to mortuary school, you’re not usually looking at the death industry with a critical or academic eye. I wanted to see if I could combine those two things. I realized very quickly that if I could somehow work with death on both an intellectual and a practical, tangible level, there might be something there. I worked in San Francisco for a year at a crematory, and then I moved to L.A. for mortuary school.
My upcoming book is about my first year entering this field. I thought I wanted to revitalize the funeral industry by putting the “fun” in “funeral” and having crazy spectacle funerals with champagne glasses or shooting your ashes into space. Then I realized, oh my God, this is actually very gross and difficult.
Interview has a lot of good insights as well about how we best handle our deaths and those of our loved ones.