While pop culture, literature, and the media are the main focus on this site, we also take opportunities to call out a little attention to woman who are out in the world doing amazing things. So this week, I’d like to spotlight my newest hero, Caitin Doughty: mortician, author, creator of the YouTube series Ask a Mortician and founder of the website Order of the Good Death.
Caitlin Doughty has a vision to change the world, and that vision includes lots and lots of dead bodies. Now, before I scare you away from reading my post this week, Doughty’s Ask a Mortician YouTube series takes an honest look at death and what happens to our physical remains after we shed this mortal coil. In a culture in which we often try to remove ourselves as much as possible from death and what it looks like, Doughty answers real questions about how a body decomposes, death rituals around the world, and offers alternatives to what many of us consider a traditional funeral.
What is so great about Doughty and her approach in Ask A Mortician is that she is honest while still being both entertaining and respectful. There are enough creepy facts for those looking for them, but Doughty’s ultimate purpose is not only to educate, but also to inform her viewers and be honest in ways that perhaps the funeral industry is not. In other words, many funeral homes are owned by corporations whose purpose is to make money and may not always share with their customers how many options are available to families as they prepare the final arrangements for their loved ones. Watching this series has made me seriously think about what I would like to have done with my remains when it is my time to leave this world.
But of course, you don’t have to take my word for it, cue the video:
In addition to her short format YouTube videos, Doughty is also the founder of The Order of the Good Death. The Order is essentially a group of death experts – industry professionals, academics, and artists who share a singular vision to explore “ways to prepare a death-phobic culture for their inevitable mortality.” Please don’t take this the wrong way, Doughty and the other members of the Order aren’t saying that death itself is a thing to be celebrated, but they do believe that death is a natural thing that is part of everyone’s life. And yes, grief is also a natural part of death as well. I would suggest that the real purpose of the Order of the Good Death is to create more of a serious conversation about death and culture than a medium like YouTube can really support.
If nothing I have mentioned yet has proven to you that Caitin Doughty is someone deserving of your interest, I recently finished reading her memoir, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Taking a more personal path than her videos or other articles you might find of hers on the internet, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells the story of Doughty’s relationship with death, starting as a young child when she witnessed the accidental death of another young girl. Still filled with Doughty’s humor and generous use of pop culture references, she takes time to focus on how her interest in death was a way of engaging with her fear of it. It was this engagement that would not only drive her to work in an industry that she would come to love, but also led her to learn a lot of self acceptance. So yeah, Doughty shares the message of death, but she also spreads the message that those of us who share similar interests and want to ask questions about death are not weirdos either. And if we are weirdos, well then, we can all be weirdos together. So there.
And so I am pleased to name Caitlin Doughty an Honorary Lady of Comicazi for her ability to inform, educate, and entertain while spreading a message that is personal and for many of us, revolutionary.
Familiar with Caitlin Doughty? Have some opinions on her ideas or ideas on death in general? Or maybe you are done with talking about death and would prefer to make a suggestion for our next Honorary Lady of Comicazi? Well then, hop down to that comment box below and start typing.