The Day Thread is Death Positive

What is Death Positivity? Per The Order of the Good Death: “People who are death positive believe that it is not morbid or taboo to speak openly about death. They see honest conversations about death & dying as the cornerstone of a healthy society.”

Fun fact: I once wanted to be a mortician. I even had an “interview” with a funeral director when I was in high school, but I don’t think it went too well, especially when I asked him about why would a funeral home be located next to a daycare. Granted, I used to attend that daycare, but I don’t think he appreciated my candor.

I ended up not pursuing mortician as a career. I liked death as a philosophy not a profession, so I read some books on what happens to our bodies when we die and practical uses for corpses. The one book, though, that shaped much of my perception about the end of life process was Smoke Gets in You Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. I don’t know how I happened upon her book but either way, I’m glad I read it. It’s a memoir of Doughty’s experience working at a county morgue in California, responding to calls to retrieve corpses, cremating unclaimed bodies, and all other things related to the funeral industrial complex in America.

It was an eye-opener and somewhat radicalized me against the funeral industry (more than I already was), especially in regards to neglect/indifference towards people who cannot afford funerary services. A dignified death should be available for all.

I’ve always been open about dying as it is inevitable, but I never come at it from a position of being defiant. Rather, I’m resilient. Death is natural. My hope is that I die knowing that the life I have lived was done on my terms and I never felt like I didn’t accomplish anything.

My ma and I would talk openly about death, too. We both have accepted it but we’re not grim. Especially these days, end of life planning is necessary and as the one child who lives closest to them, I’ll be handling the bulk of any decisions. As for myself, I’ve told my friends at this point I want a green burial of some sort. Either composted, aqua cremation, or toss me in the woods.

Death should be a means to celebrate life, not mourn. We need to embrace that more as an aspect of intercultural experiences and a core concept of our humanity.

If you’re interested in understanding more about death positivity, please check out The Order of the Good Death.

Click here for a list of recommended reads from The Order of the Good Death (I need to make my way through this list eventually).

And finally, a link to Caitlin’s YouTube channel where you can learn all about quirky histories and stories revolving around death and the death industry.