Hey!!! I joined The Order of a Good Death!!! Really, I joined some months ago, but because of so many spinning plates, I haven’t yet turned my high beams on this magical corner of my weird life. I’m very excited and grateful and I want to share this with you, dear reader.
Wondering what the hell I’m talking about? Please, read on.
Caitlin Doughty is the genius behind the “Ask a Mortician” videos. She is generously unraveling the mysteries and questions we have about what happens after we die. She’s a real mortician, you see, and she’s very funny and smart.
Caitlin founded the Order of the Good Death in January of 2011. It is a collective of filmmakers, poets, musicians, artists, and writers exploring ways to prepare a death phobic culture for their inevitable mortality. From the Order’s mission statement:
“The Order is about making death a part of your life. That means committing to staring down your death fears- whether it be your own death, the death of those you love, the pain of dying, the afterlife (or lack thereof), grief, corpses, bodily decomposition, or all of the above. Accepting that death itself is natural, but the death anxiety and terror of modern culture are not.”
I never really talk about this, but much of my Art focuses on Death, what happens when we die and what kinds of things are waiting for us when we leave our physical bodies. I spend a great deal of time thinking about Death and other “macabre” subjects, yet I’m an optimist and a happy person. I think, in a way, it keeps me grounded. I come by my perceptions and ideas honestly. I spent three years working in a nursing home & geriatric hospital when I was in my twenties and I faced Death, dying and end of life issues many times a day. I’ve spent the past 7 years working in a hospital pathology department, right above the morgue. And someday I’ll record my research regarding deathly metaphysics – it’s peppered throughout my Art. These life experiences and Art experiments remind me to live more fully, grateful for the Love, Joy, Wonder and all the other GREAT things that the Universe gives us. It’s a good lesson to remember, and I’m proud to be in the Order of the Good Death with other like minded people.
Post Script: I don’t actually smoke a pipe – that is my late grandfather’s skull pipe, handed down to me by my late father. I don’t actually wear a beard anymore, either. But that photo was taken with friends on Decemboween, amidst much macabre merry making and it seemed like a fitting headshot for TOOTGD.
Post Post Script: I do enjoy dressing like an undertaker.