October Reading: Book Review of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons From the Crematory” by Caitlin Doughty


Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty was two firsts for me. It was the first nonfiction book I’ve ever read that I genuinely enjoyed and it’s the first time I’ve read a book just about death. More specifically what goes on behind the scenes when we die. Not from the deceased’s perspective (obviously) but what happens at the funeral home. Like most humans, I’m not a fan of death. I’m not scared of what happens after death. I’m scared of the process of dying and leaving behind those I love. Caitlin address all of this in her book. You may be wondering who is Caitlin Doughty and why should you read this? Well, that’s what I’m here to tell you.

I found Caitlin through Youtube where she has a channel called Ask a Mortician. I’m not sure how I stumbled across it because I typically avoid all things death related but somehow I did and decided to start watching. On the channel Caitlin addresses a lot of common concerns people have about dying. Some of those being legal questions, like do you have to be embalmed. You don’t and I didn’t know that until I watched her video. She supports “green burial”. What that is is basically what people did for thousands of years where you are put into the ground to decay naturally. I personally love that idea. To be honest, I don’t really care what happens to my body after I die. I go back and forth between wanting to be cremated and buried but if I was to be buried I would want a natural burial. The thought of embalming makes me nauseous. Again, this is something I had never considered before finding Caitlin’s Youtube channel. Her book is basically how she got started in the mortician world, her time working at a crematory and just her life. To be a book all about death it’s actually pretty funny, but that’s just Caitlin’s personality.

As far as I can tell, Caitlin is an atheist so this isn’t a spiritual look at death. This book is just based on what goes on in our world when somebody dies. For me, that knowledge is comforting and it may be for you too. I highly encourage you to check out her Youtube channel and this book. Caitlin also has another book out called From Here to Eternity: Travelling the World to Find the Good Death which I hope to read soon. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Thank you for reading and have a great day!

*These are two of my favorite quotes by Stephen King concerning death. I did not create the images. 

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