This book was book club read and it really wasn’t something I would have picked up on my own. Ultimately I’m glad I did. I’m not particularly sentimental about my remains so I’ve always said I’d either be cremated or donate my remains to science. Being less than halfway through my life (if the women in my family are any indication, I may live to be over a century) I didn’t think much about it beyond that. Reading Mary Roach’s book is a detailed an engaging account of our lives after death and some of the strangest things humans have done with the remains of their fellow man throughout history
Though this should go without saying, one should probably avoid reading this if they’ve recently lost a loved one. My grandmother passed while I was reading this book and while I’m not typically squeamish I found the chapter on embalming and prepping a body for a funeral rather unsettling. Otherwise it was a great read about a subject most people would rather avoid speaking about. What I found most interesting was the many uses for human cadavers. The most obvious would be in anatomy labs, but they are useful in the study of forensics, auto safety and investigating the causes of plane crashes (to name a few). If you can get past the idea of your loved one’s remains being hit in the head with a hammer or left to rot in a field, the idea that they are aiding mankind after death is pretty cool (at least I think so).
The biggest hurdle in reading this book is getting past your squeamishness about human remains. Once you can do that, it’s really fascinating. It also gave me some really great advice in dealing with a loved one’s funeral arrangements: regardless of their wishes, you are the one that has to live with it. So maybe have the memorial even if they didn’t want one. Funerals are for the living.