Mortician Caitlin Doughty, known for her blog (The Order of the Good Death) and YouTube channel (Ask A Mortician), is a bit of a controversial figure in the death industry. Her frank and lighthearted approach to discussing death practices has made her a viral sensation - a sensation that compels viewers to question what will happen to their bodies after they've passed.
Of course, there's no saying for sure how you'll meet your end (especially considering some of the wild cadavers morticians deal with), but it's worth putting in some advanced thought. Doughty is a vocal advocate for natural alternative burials and funerals with plenty of family involvement. But that hasn't made her the most well-liked woman in the traditional death industry.
According to The Order of the Good Death, "death positivity" is a movement towards embracing the inevitable. The blog offers an online petition to everyone that's dedicated to fighting the stigma surrounding death. It encourages people to talk about the subject openly with their friends and family and to make plans for their body after their end.
Caitlin Doughty spearheads this movement through both online advocacy and funerary practices. She encourages people to confront their mortality and shares her experiences trying to do the same. As part of this, she encourages everybody to find the burial practice that makes them feel the most comfortable about their day of unmaking.
Death can be a lonely venture, not just for the person passing but their whole family. It's Doughty's opinion that many western societies find it hard to talk about loss and grief, and even harder to feel any control over it. That's why it's so important to her that people take part in the preparation of their loved one's body.
The mortician believes that helping prepare a body changes a person for the positive. It makes death more real and enables people come to terms with their loss faster and more fully after the burial process.
A natural burial involves the preparation of a body without the use of harsh embalming chemicals such as formaldehyde. It puts focus on decomposition, rather than preservation, and leads to a more eco-friendly end. That's the main reason Doughty advocates so heavily for the availability of natural burial practices. She believes there's beauty in wrapping a body in unbleached linen and laying it to rest in a hand-dug grave so it can become a part of the earth's nutrient cycles.
Without temporary preservation methods such as embalming, the body can smoothly decompose without leaching dangerous chemicals into the ecosystem.
For Caitlin Doughty, part of advocating for a good death means calling into question the biases of the traditional industry. She claims that embalming is what the American funeral industry is built on, and it's how it makes its money. She's careful not to call anything a scam, but she warns the public about upselling in funeral homes.
Doughty also highlights the care options that not every funeral home wants consumers to know about. She says that practices such as direct cremation, which can cost 30% less than a traditional viewing and burial, aren't always advertised. And she calls out funeral industry lobbyists who make it harder for consumers to take control of their burial.