Youtube’s favourite mortician answers children’s questions about death and decomposition with science, sensitivity, and her usual graveside humour.
Every day, funeral director Caitlin Doughty receives dozens of questions about death. What would happen to an astronaut’s body if it were pushed out of a space shuttle? Do people poop when they die? Can Grandma have a Viking funeral?
In Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, Doughty blends her mortician’s knowledge of the body and the intriguing history behind common misconceptions about corpses to offer factual, hilarious, and candid answers to thirty-five distinctive questions posed by her youngest fans. In her inimitable voice, Doughty details lore and science of what happens to, and inside, our bodies after we die. Why do corpses groan? What causes bodies to turn colors during decomposition? And why do hair and nails appear longer after death? Readers will learn the best soil for mummifying your body, whether you can preserve your best friend’s skull as a keepsake, and what happens when you die on a plane. Beautifully illustrated by Dianné Ruz, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? shows us that death is science and art, and only by asking questions can we begin to embrace it.
I’ve been one of Caitlin’s ‘Deathlings’ for a while. That’s what she calls her YouTube viewers. There’s just something about a tall woman with dark hair and bangs talking about the entertaining aspects of death that appeals to ageing goths like me. I still have an inordinate amount of black clothing in my wardrobe.
When I decided to pick up Caitlin’s latest book, the question of format was almost a no-brainer. I had an outstanding Audible credit, so I spent it on the audiobook. I have absolutely no regrets. For the past week, Caitlin’s been following me around the east end of Calgary, filling me in on all the questions I’ve had about death since I was old enough to ask.
I know what you’re thinking: isn’t this book a little morbid for children? Well…aren’t we all children? Caitlin doesn’t talk down to her audience. She believes parents should communicate with their kids about death. The questions she answers are actually sourced from children. If a curious ten-year-old wants to have a listen (or read), I’d probably let them. If I was their parent, I’d listen with them in case they needed a break or had questions that required more interaction than an audiobook can offer.
As an adult, I enjoy the matter-of-fact answers to the often immature questions we’re all thinking but too grown-up to ask:
Do you poop when you die?
Sometimes (so wear your train-wreck undies).
Can I have a Viking funeral?
Yes, but it probably doesn’t look anything like the Viking Funeral you’re thinking about, with the flaming boat and all.
What would happen if you died on a plane?
Well, you’d have the world’s quietest seat mate. I bet the folks around you would keep up a nice awkward silence. Perfect for napping and reading, right?
Let’s talk about death, baby…
Our family is in the process of confronting our own mortality. It’s been a huge theme this year. How do you respond when your parents start a conversation about their end-of-life plans? I mean, it was awkward before, when they were just transitioning from middle-age to elderly. Now that we’re dealing with factors like Cancer, it’s even more important. Watching Caitlin’s videos has helped me realize that the way we stop making death scary is to talk about it. It’s also how we keep the booming death industry from taking advantage of us in our time of grief.
With that in mind, I don’t find Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs to be a morbid book at all. It’s taking the taboo away from death. Caitlin calmly tells us how your five-foot-tall grandmother can fit in the same size urn as a seven-foot-tall basketball player, then warns against practical jokes you might want to play on your crematory assistant. The result is a book that is funny, informative, and educational, while still being sensitive and sincere.
Definitely put this one on your to-read pile. Or, if you’re like me, go to your favourite audiobook provider and get your own little pocket-Caitlin to follow you around, telling you stories.
And when that’s done, go to her YouTube channel and watch her Iconic Corpse and Morbid Mystery playlists. Because death can also be highly entertaining!
TL;DR I LOVED this book. Caitlin Doughty from Youtube's "Ask a Mortician" answers all your questions about death.
Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty
Narrator: Caitlin Doughty
Published by W. W. Norton Company
Genres: Non-Fiction, Humour
Amazon | Kobo | Audible
This post contains an affiliate link (to Amazon) you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.