Caitlin Doughty is better known online as “Ask a Mortician” on youtube or as the Founder of The Order of the Good Death. I love her videos and highly recommend her to everyone who has trouble talking about death.
Our society is really weird about death. We act like it’s shameful and scary. And I get it. I have periodically given myself panic attacks when thinking about my own mortality since I was 14 years old. Whether you believe in an afterlife, reincarnation, or nothing, most people have a drive to stay alive, it’s kind of hard-coded in most living things. But our society’s attitudes toward death don’t really help.
Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs (Amazon Associate link) came about because of the questions children have asked Doughty over her years as a “Good Death” Advocate, and mortician/funeral director. From the titular “Will my cat eat my eyeballs when I die?”* to “If we dig up my dead dog four years later, what will I find?” kids have asked Doughty a ton of questions, many of which I didn’t know the answer to either.
Doughty does a fantastic job of answering these question completely, honestly, and in ways that are appropriate to any age group.
You cannot shield children from the existence of death forever, nor should you. It’s hard, and sucks, and, hell, I’m not particularly good at it. But it’s part of life, and once kids figure out it’s a thing they become incredibly, morbidly obsessed with it. From my four year old cousin at my grandfather’s open casket funeral, climbing up to look at him, and asking very loudly, “Where’s his feet? Are they in there?” to the story Stephen King tells in Danse Macabre about he and his buddies dropping a brick on the corpse of a cat to see if something dead would poop if someone “dropped a brick on your heiney.”
Death happens, and kids are curious about everything that happens.
If you have a curious little one asking you if your pets will eat you if you die, or who wants to know where Grandpa’s feet are, or what happens when you’re cremated, I highly recommend this book.
Actually, I just recommend this book because Doughty is fucking hilarious. She is factual with a dry wit that led to me snickering on the bus while listening to it.
That’s a mark of quality in my book. If you can make me cry or laugh out loud while on the bus, thereby ensuring that my seat mate edges carefully away (WIN!), I will deem your book a success.
So, yes, very good book, very interesting topic, and probably a vital resource for those of you who have a little one in your life who is likely to ask you if dead cats poop or where grandpa’s feet are.
*No. They are far more likely to go for the softer facial tissues like lips, nose, cheeks, and then any other exposed flesh. Eyeballs, it turns out, are not very nourishing.
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Also, if you’d like to see what sort of fiction I write when left to my own devices, please feel free to check out my fiction Patreon, Nothing Nice Comes Out of My Head.