Catilin Doughty works as a death scholar, activist and mortician. Not only that, but Doughty has three novels under her belt, runs a successful YouTube channel with almost two million followers and has traveled the world in search of “the good death.”
The idea of a “good death” is one that embraces the living and the dead, does not harm the environment and lets each culture breathe in its own way. Doughty has traveled from the United States to Indonesia, from Mexico to Spain, from Japan to Bolivia, trying to find the death ritual that was truly a good death. But, she failed. In almost every country she visited, she noticed that capitalism had corrupted the death industry and eaten up any traditional methods of death customs, especially in our Western world.
In America, we have a death industry worth nearly $25 billion. Our caskets pollute the earth. We don’t know how to mourn. And we certainly don’t like to think about what happens after we die.
But we need to.
Our cold goodbyes leave us without closure and a lingering fear of how we’ll be remembered by our own families. There are real-world, tangible consequences that come from our western relationship with death. And it comes in the form of dollar signs. Funerals put people in debt.
Answering honestly, who knows how to dress a body and how long a corpse can stay in a house before it must be disposed of with a death ritual? Most Americans don’t know that keeping a dead body is an option, much less that they can choose their own way to say goodbye to it. Doughty proposes new death rituals for the West. We used to have our own culture surrounding death; we used to have our own practices for grieving. Now, we leave no space for death or the grief that follows.
With her own funeral home and a list of unique burial places in America, Doughty offers an alternative for those looking to change our culture surrounding death. She’s a pioneer and one of the only women who owns her own funeral home, runs her own non-profit, does her own research and feels comfortable getting very up close and personal with the dead. (Doughty shared a room with Grandma after she died, which is a bit of a long story.) She has three books out so far and publishes new videos on her YouTube channel regularly.