I know this is coming out of left field but stay with me.
Caitlin Doughty is one of my favorite YouTubers. Her channel is called Ask a Mortician, which makes sense because she’s a licensed mortician and runs a funeral home in Los Angeles. She’s also an author, a public speaker, a death educator and advocates for radical things like natural burial and home wakes. Her books even made it into my 2017 favorites.
I discovered her channel a few months ago when I was bored; sometimes random things occur to me when I’m just sitting around and thinking, and then I start Googling, and the next thing I know I’ve lost hours in a Google rabbit hole about the most bizarre things. On this particular day, I started thinking about the Titanic and wondering what happened to all of the dead from the ship. I’ve read and watched a lot of things about the sinking and I didn’t recall any information being given about what happened to the dead, which seemed weird to me. So I Googled.
Enter Caitlin’s YouTube channel.
On her channel, she tackles everything from famous historical corpses to death myths to how to navigate the death industry as a consumer. She also answers viewers’ questions about basically anything death related. Her tone is respectful but irreverent, and it’s obvious from the amount of information she provides that her videos are well researched and she’s passionate about the topic.
One of the things she talks about a lot is the relatively new Western tradition of relegating the dead to funeral homes and making the entire subject taboo, increasing our fear and anxiety. The more I think about it the more I realize how right she is; death isn’t something that we talk about, even though it happens to everyone. We don’t make our wishes known, we don’t plan, and when someone dies unexpectedly we’re left grieving AND stressed out. Why is this a thing? Wouldn’t it be better to plan for our own deaths and alleviate some of the burden on the people we leave behind?
It’s something to think about, for sure. I’ve made some decisions and had some difficult but necessary conversations as a result of Caitlin’s videos, and I feel far more prepared for the inevitable when it comes.
I know this is a weird topic for a blog like mine, but it’s something that’s really important to me, and while I’m not a Caitlin-level advocate for death positivity, I do think it’s something we should discuss more openly.