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Caitlin Doughty

  • American activist
  • Born August 19, 1984

Caitlin Marie Doughty (born August 19, 1984) is an American mortician, author, blogger, and YouTube personality known for advocating death acceptance and the reform of Western funeral industry practices. She is the creator of the Web series "Ask a Mortician", founder of The Order of the Good Death, and author of two bestselling books, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory in 2014, and From Here to Eternity; Traveling the World to Find the Good Death in 2017, both published by W.W. Norton and Company.


Death in its natural state can be very beautiful. When you think about a body that's died of natural causes - family taking care of it - all of that is very beautiful.




Dying in the sanitary environment of a hospital is a relatively new concept. In the late 19th century, dying at a hospital was reserved for people who had nothing and no one. Given the choice, a person wanted to die at home in their bed, surrounded by friends and family.




I am a mortician who tells you that you don't necessarily need a mortician.




I work with a group called Compassion & Choices in California. It's attempting to get death with dignity legalised in California, the idea being that so goes California, so goes the rest of the U.S., at least.




The definition of 'morbid' is an unhealthy preoccupation with death. Unfortunately, there's no word to mean the perfectly healthy preoccupation with death, which is what I have.




The home funeral - caring for the dead ourselves - changes our relationship to grieving. If you have been married to someone for 50 years, why would you let someone take them away the moment they die?




The biggest problem is the funerals that don't exist. People call the funeral home, they pick up the body, they mail the ashes to you, no grief, no happiness, no remembrance, no nothing. That happens more often than it doesn't in the United States.




All the body wants to do biologically is decompose. Once you die, it's, 'Let me out here! I'm ready to shoot my atoms back into the universe!'




The death industry markets caskets and embalming under the rubric of helping bodies look 'natural,' but our current death customs are as natural as training majestic creatures like bears and elephants to dance in cute little outfits, or erecting replicas of the Eiffel Tower and Venetian canals in the middle of the harsh American desert.




Ever since childhood, when I found out that the ultimate fate for all humans was death, sheer terror and morbid curiosity had been fighting for supremacy in my mind.




Vaults and caskets are not the law; they are the policy of individual cemeteries. Vaults prevent the settling of the dirt around the body, thus making landscaping more uniform and cost effective. As an added bonus, vaults can be customized and sold at a markup. Faux marble? Bronze? Take your pick, family.




One of the things that was most shocking to me about starting to work in the funeral industry is just how industrial the environment is.




For thousands of years, we did have death surrounding us, and we did have people die in the home. You would take care of your own end. You would do ritual processes, and you would be involved in it, and that's been taken away in the Western world.




If people really knew what they were getting into with their third chemotherapy treatment, or getting a pacemaker when they're 92, if they really knew what that was going to mean, they might say no, and we should give them that information.




In America, burial means an embalmed body in a heavy-duty casket with a vault built over it, so that the ground doesn't settle. That body is encased in many layers of denial.




I was fascinated by mortality. Most people are, even if they don't admit it.




If we ignore our death, we end up just going around completely oblivious to why we do the things we do!




I've worked very hard to become comfortable with how death works and why it happens. I now know that death isn't out to get me.




I think about death most of the day, every day. We can't escape death, and choosing to ignore it only makes it more scary.




I want a natural burial. Just straight into the ground in a shroud.




Going around not fully believing that you're going to die is really problematic because it affects how you think about the future of the planet, about the future of your own life, about the decisions you're making.




Not only is natural burial by far the most ecologically sound way to perish, it doubles down on the fear of fragmentation and loss of control. Making the choice to be naturally buried says, 'Not only am I aware that I'm a helpless, fragmented mass of organic matter, I celebrate it. Vive la decay!'




Accepting your own mortality is like eating your vegetables: You may not want to do it, but it's good for you.




Writing a memoir is such a private, personal experience that it's intimidating to think of adapting it for television.




Treat your online affairs as part of your affairs that need to be in order - your bank, your Internet bill - you need to have people who know what you want.




Because we've never encountered a decomposing body, we can only assume they are out to get us. It is no wonder there is a cultural fascination with zombies.



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