Don’t Fear the Reaper

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At The Hairpin, Caitlin Doughty, mortician and author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory, talks about death positivity, women in the funeral business, zombies, and why she thinks the recent move toward alternative burial practices is more than just a trend:

I don’t want to say it’s a trend because that makes it seem like it’s going to be a fad for a couple of years and then go away… like artisanal pickles or something . . . I think people — and I’ve found especially women, for some reason — are very, very interested in being closer with death and having more of an understanding of death. And the traditional methods we have now, which is take the body away immediately and bury it in the ground with lots of chemicals, is not really having an intimate relationship with death. It’s pretty much the opposite of that.


Claire Burgess’s short fiction has appeared in Third Coast, Hunger Mountain, and PANK online, among others. Her stories have received special mentions in the Pushcart Prize and Best American anthologies, but haven’t actually made it into one yet. She’s a graduate of the Vanderbilt University MFA program, where she co-founded Nashville Review. She lives in Pittsburgh by way of the deep South and says things on Twitter @Clairabou_. More from this author →