Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory - Caitlin Daughty

Interesting read. 

Caitlin writes about her experiences while working in a funeral home, and also our general relationship ( or lack thereof!) with death. Some of it deals more specifically with funeral homes and the increasingly artificial set up around it. The way the bodies are embalmed, made up, the caskets and works. Some of it may be hard to read if you are the quesy kind, but I am pretty blas√© about those, so all that just seemed disappointing, even appalling. However culturally the caskets and burials are not that relatable.  

What was more relatable, and worth pondering over, was our increasing obsession with wiping away all traces of death from our lives. Our shiny urban lives, with youth creams and ads with little kids and houses and cars. The swanky hospitals, which can, supposedly, fix everything. And every time the doctor fails to prolong some life to your arbitrary standard of what it should be, we rage about the failure of the system, of the city's lack of facilities, of the dead persons carelessness, how they refused to lead the perfect life and add years to their existence. But inspite of all our efforts, every single one of us is going to die. And before us, most probably we will have to deal with the deaths of older family members. But we won't acknowledge that. 

Makes one re-think some of the death rituals that were traditionally part of our cultures, and which at least in my youth, I too brushed off as pointless. But now I wonder. Even if some of the rituals need to evolve or change, they are still needed. This burying head in the sand approach doesn't look like a good thing. 

In terms of the writing, some of it tended to get rather dragged out, but still a lot in the book that ponder-worthy.  

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