Mortician Caitlin Doughty on how to have a good death

From Nine To Noon, 10:07 am on 23 October 2014

Caitlin Doughty is a twenty-something year-old licensed mortician and funeral director with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre, who took a job at a crematory after her first degree - turning morbid curiousity into her life's work.

Caitlin Doughty

Mortician and funeral director Caitlin Doughty. Photo: Caitlin Doughty

Caitlin is a mortician - originally from Hawaii - who thinks that our culture has become too far removed and detached from death and dying, and that making it taboo to talk about doesn't serve anyone well.

After graduating from university with her first degree in Medieval History, Caitlin moved to California and began to apply to crematories in an attempt to put into practice her theoretical interest in death.

Caitlin Doughty at work

Caitlin Doughty at work Photo: Caitlin Doughty

Caitlin Doughty's first job in the funeral industry was as a crematory operator, and since then, she has worked as a funeral arranger, a body-van transport driver, and completed a second degree in mortuary science.

She works as a licensed funeral director and mortician in Los Angeles and is in the process of opening her own alternative funeral service, Undertaking LA, to help dying people and their families become more closely part of the death process.

Caitlin founded the Order of the Good Death in 2011 with the goal of bringing a realistic discussion of death back into popular culture.

In her new book, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Stories From the Crematorium, she argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).

She also fronts the popular Youtube webseries, Ask a Mortician.

Caitlin Doughty talks to Kathryn Ryan about her life.