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From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  22,709 ratings  ·  2,758 reviews
The best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with “dignity.”

Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in t
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Hardcover, 248 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Steven Yes, it is a detailed look into death practices from around the world. Interesting to say the least.

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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  22,709 ratings  ·  2,758 reviews


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PorshaJo
OK, this might sound really weird....but I've been to a lot of funerals. And I mean a lot. As a very young girl, I used to go church on weekends with my grandparents, and they would always go to the funeral home after church. It was always the funeral home three day viewings followed by a church service and grave site service. Many, many years later a family member passed and was cremated. I thought it the oddest thing, completely unheard of. I had many long discussions with my husband about it ...more
Petra-X
This is a brief tour of some of the world's strangest burial practices. In the epilogue, thanking people, Caitlin says, "Finally Landis Blair, who was an all-right boyfriend but is now a killer collaborator". And that feels like the key to this all-right, 3.5 star (at best) book.

It feels like flushed with the deserved success of first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, the author had decided to have a dual career as of funeral home proprietor and writer and had
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Diane S ☔
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019
Although a strange choice for Christmas reading, I found this book utterly fascinating. It seems that the United States may be the only country that avoids the subject of death. Other countries, not only have a different view of their dead, but treat their dead entirely different.

In the Torajan region of Sulawel in Indonesia, many live along side their dead. The mummified corpses are not buried, but remain part of the home. In Mexico, most of us have heard of the the Day of the dead, which actua
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
I was sent this book by the publisher after responding to an email sent to a librarian email list; they had extras leftover from ALA, and I was #ALAleftbehind, so I asked for a few from their list.

I knew of Caitlin Doughty but never read her earlier book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, which talks about her experience running a crematory and funeral home. In this book, she visits several different places that deal with death differently, either from cultural diffe
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Emily
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Caitlin Doughty has done it again: dragged us death-phobic Westerners into the light of what grieving and death could (and maybe should) look like. In From Here to Eternity, Caitlin travels the globe and shares her first-hand experiences of getting up close and personal with death rituals from around the world.

I found each section absolutely captivating, and although the Tana Toraja bit did give me a nightmare last night (seriously), I'm going to blame that on the arms-length (or maybe football
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Saajid Hosein
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Note that this isn't a review as much as it is a personal reflection. You've been warned.

This book made me think a lot about how we construct knowledge differently across the globe. What might seem gross and macabre for some of us might be a deeply important ritual of mourning and death observance for others. I like that Doughty is decentering Western ideas of how death should be conceived and observed, showing us that our own fear of death causes us to forget what we were biologically designed
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Emily
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVED this. I cannot wait to pick up more of Doughty's work and to binge watch her YouTube channel "Ask a Mortician."

In this book, Doughty outlines all of the fucked up ways in which the US death industry is fucked up. She looks at expenses, dignity, and the seeming moratorium on public grief here in the states.

In contrast, Doughty takes the reader along with her as she travels the world learning about other cultures' death rituals and mourning practices. This could have very easily
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
I read this about a year ago as a buddy read with Beth. I must have forgotten to formally review it. It’s a fascinating glimpse into customs and rituals from around the world after the death of loved ones. It reminded me of my undergrad studies in anthropology, and I learned a vast amount. Well-written and completely absorbing, I’ll definitely read all of Doughty’s other books.
Alice Lippart
So interesting and a great introduction to this topic!
Iben Frederiksen
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the second book Caitlin Doughty's published, and it is also my second read of hers.
In this book Caitlin, a writer and mortician, chronicles her meetings with other cultures death and burial traditions, in a very chill and humorous way.
It's interesting to say the least, how very different the ending of someone's life is dealt with around the world.

From Mexico to Japan, the business of death is quite different aross the globe, making the reader aware of practices that are so very unlike t
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Montzalee Wittmann
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
From Here to Eternity
Traveling the World to Find the Good Death
By: Caitlin Doughty
Narrated by: Caitlin Doughty
The author traveled around various countries and described the countries way of treating their dead, their thoughts on death, and how it may have changed. She compares these countries to the US. It was very interesting, a little strange from the view from an American. I do see how we have lost sight of the respect of the ritual of death and the big business of funeral homes have made it
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Lois Bujold
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: larger mortals
Recommended to Lois by: ran across on Amazon, tracked back to my library
Three-and-a-half stars, really. Read in one fascinated day. The personal explorations by a young California mortician of funeral practices across the world.

My eye was first caught by her more recent work, the irresistibly titled Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions From Tiny Mortals About Death, but my library's wait list was too long, so I selected this one instead. Good value. Her others are certainly on my to-read list now.

Ta, L.
Ross Blocher
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From Here to Eternity is the kind of exuberant, passionate non-fiction I live for. Caitlin Doughty has a deep fascination with death: she is a funeral director by trade and her knowledge, enthusiasm and good humor are clearly evident as she describes and de-stigmatizes cultural attitudes toward death around the world. Many of the stories revolve around her own travels to various parts of the world to witness ceremonies, crypts, crematoria, and columbaria (places where cremated remains are kept). ...more
Ashley DiNorcia
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
4.5
In her second book, Caitlin takes us around the world to take a look at how other cultures view and treat death. If you're already aware of how bizarre, detached and corporate-ified the US is about death, this will be a lovely trip through some truly beautiful rituals and cultures. If you aren't aware, well, this might be a bit jarring for you.

Caitlin approaches the topic with respect and just the right amount of humor. I can't recommend her writing enough, and would definitely recommend her
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Erica
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it
My anticipated reaction:


My actual reaction:


This isn't bad, not by a longshot. It's also not the stunning masterpiece I'd lead myself to believe it would be. A lot of that is my fault because I've stalked Caitlin Doughty for about 4 or 5 years now and am up to date on all her YouTube videos. I often read articles about her or by her or those written for Order of the Good Death so not a lot of this information was new to me. While I expected such to be the case, I also expected to get a mo
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Ammar
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
fascinating book about the various cultures and how they interact with death, and the concept of the departed or loved one. were many non-western cultures perform more natural acts of burial, a non-industrial cremation. some use a pyre to lit a loved one, while others keep them mummified, and visit them often.

The Japanese use chopsticks to pluck their loved one's bones from the ashes.

Fascinating and written beautifully
Jenna
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Mary Roach
Who says death can't be fun? Well, maybe not death as in the process of dying, but a a good book about death? Sure, it can be lots of fun!
In "From Here to Eternity", Caitlin Doughty takes us to several countries around the world, detailing their practices with their dead. At times quite macabre (this is a book about death, afterall), it is nonetheless a most interesting book. Ms. Doughty mixes wit and sarcasm with fascinating details, making this one delightful book to read! Why is it each cult
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Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*
I didn't enjoy this quite as much as Doughty's previous book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, but some parts were really interesting (Himalayan vultures with nine-foot wing spans) and others quite moving (people grieving their dead children). ...more
Robin
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This author is so awesome. I want to go to her funeral facility when I pass. More to come.
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
3.5 Stars
This was an interesting non-fiction book that explored a variety of non-traditional burial practices (non-traditional by North American standards, at least). Even though this book dealt with the topic of grief, it was not creepy, but rather try to normalize the topic, taking out the fear that tends to surround dead bodies. I particularly liked the sections about fire burning in Colorado as well as the section on Japanese traditions.
Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was such an interesting listen! I have been wanting to read this book since I learned of its existence. I find the way that we handle death as humans to be a topic that I never tire from. When I first picked up Caitlin Doughty's debut novel, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, I had my doubts but decided to read a few pages just to see what I thought. I couldn't put it down and it is a book that I frequently recommend to others today. I we
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Karyl
This is an absolute must-read. Here in America, we are so separated from death. It is something to be feared, kept away from, hidden behind expensive caskets and embalming and services in a "multisensory experience room" (p. 234). Our dead are basically ripped from us, held in morgues and funeral homes, with little transition from the state of living to being buried in a cemetery or being resigned to the flames during cremation.

Doughty's point during this book isn't a tour of the world's strang
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Amanda
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: death, non-fiction
This was not what I was expecting, which was a SGIYE part two. This is very much an informational nonfiction rather than a memoir, though there are memoir-esque elements about the companions Caitlin travelled with. This is a great overview of death rituals around the world, but not an in depth resource for death geeks. My favorite chapter was about Japan, as there were more details that helped me understand their rituals and culture. I wish Caitlin had been more present in the text as she was in ...more
Victoria ♡
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so interesting! It really got me thinking tbh. Recommend Caitlin's books to everyone they're so good!!
Katie.dorny
Mar 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, non-fiction
A journey around the world about death and grief.

It was eye opening, enjoyable and thought provoking.
Sonja Arlow
3 ½ stars

I absolutely LOVED Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory.

It was a quirky memoir of an inexperienced cremation assistant finding her feet in a macabre and sometimes quite depressing industry.

But Caitlin has grown up, the funeral business is no longer just funny anecdotes but an industry that sometimes hurt the grieving more than help by making the final goodbye so absurdly clinical that it loses its humanity.

This book follows Caitlin around the world exploring di
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Ilana
I enjoy Caitlin Doughty’s books so much, I’m now sorry I’ve finished the third book she’s published so far because I could use more of her caustic humour on the facts of death and what happens to our bodies, told in delightfully gruesome details, once life as we know it departs from them and other forms of life take over what’s left.

Here Doughty recounts her travels to different parts of the world to see up close what death rituals involve in different cultures. Japan has death hotels and buddh
...more
Rebecca Renner
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, arcs
Few life events affect us more than the death of a loved one. At times, it can seem that grief is monolithic, but not every culture deals with death and grief in the same way. The death culture of the US endeavors to paint a pleasing facade over what we consider macabre. Embalmers camouflage the reality of the grave with chemicals and adornments. Cemeteries wall off the dead behind stone, concrete, and coffin wood. In her nonfiction book From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find ...more
TheYALibrarian
Rating 5 Stars

I really can't find any reason to complain about Caitlin Doughty and her grim but amusing books on her experiences with death. Especially as she walks hand in hand with the reaper on a daily basis as a mortician; a job I could never do myself but have always been curious about.

This book however is more on the customs and traditions of families all over the world when it is time for someone to leave their mortal coil behind. For what I have read from what Caitlin has experienced, th
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Rebecca
From Here to Eternity asks us to confront our bias against other cultures’ “savage” death rituals and see how they might be healthier than the usual Western approach of denying/hiding death. Many rituals Doughty observes are about maintaining a personal connection to the dead. In South Sulawesi, Indonesia, corpses remain with their families for months or years, preserved as mummies. Other destinations include a North Carolina body farm that is attempting to compost corpses and a Japanese columba ...more
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Caitlin Doughty is a mortician and the author of Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? as well as the New York Times best-selling books Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity. She is the creator of the “Ask a Mortician” web series and founder of The Order of the Good Death. She lives in Los Angeles, where she owns and runs a funeral home. ...more

Articles featuring this book

Los Angeles-based mortician Caitlin Doughty is out to demystify death. She's back this month with her second book, From Here to Eternity:...
26 likes · 1 comments
“Insist on going to the cremation, insist on going to the burial. Insist on being involved, even if it is just brushing your mother’s hair as she lies in her casket. Insist on applying her favorite shade of lipstick, the one she wouldn’t dream of going to the grave without. Insist on cutting a small lock of her hair to place in a locket or a ring. Do not be afraid. These are human acts, acts of bravery and love in the face of death and loss.” 24 likes
“It is worth noting that the main players in the recomposition project are women—scientists, anthropologists, lawyers, architects. Educated women, who have the privilege to devote their efforts to righting a wrong. They’ve given prominent space in their professional careers to changing the current system of death. Katrina noted that “humans are so focused on preventing aging and decay—it’s become an obsession. And for those who have been socialized female, that pressure is relentless. So decomposition becomes a radical act. It’s a way to say, ‘I love and accept myself.” 20 likes
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