Death's Summer Coat

What Death and Dying Cal Tell Us about Life and Living

Death is something we all confront―it touches our families, our homes, our hearts. And yet we have grown used to denying its existence, treating it as an enemy to be beaten back with medical advances.

We are living at a unique point in human history. People are living longer than ever, yet the longer we live, the more taboo and alien our mortality becomes. Yet we, and our loved ones, still remain mortal. People today still struggle with this fact, as we have done throughout our entire history. What led us to this point? What drove us to sanitize death and make it foreign and unfamiliar? Conversation and community are as important for living as for dying. Some of the stories are strikingly unfamiliar; others are far more familiar than you might suppose. But all reveal much about the present―and about ourselves.

Book Reviews

“The remedies that she gravitates toward—death salons; natural burials; personalized funerary options, such as bespoke grave clothes and a service that incorporates corpses into coral reefs—are, in essence, efforts to tether the idea of death to the particularities of the corpse, and to tether the reality of the corpse to the experience of living in a body.”

“Schillace, simply through her personable voice and personal stories, is able to breathe compassion into what might otherwise be a depressing topic. Though the main theme of grief and loss in death is familiar, readers will come away with ample new—and endlessly fascinating—information. ”

“In this thoughtful, wide-ranging examination, Schillace looks at how cultures worldwide have dealt with death, both in the past and present. Rituals that reflect a communal understanding of the pain felt by survivors can help ease the sting of loss, she points out, while modern western society looks at grief as an abnormal state, or assign it a timetable.”