Death Is Your Gift

October 19, 2014 at 10:22 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

“And I will show you something different from either your shadow at morning striding behind you or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”  (T.S. Eliot)

Mount Pleasant Cemetery_SC

I was a Cemetery Girl. This was before goth was a thing. As a child, my best friend and I use to wander the local graveyards exploring and reading the gravestones. It was peaceful. It was quiet. It was a pleasant way to spend a coolish Fall afternoon.

It was usually Fall when you would find us in the graveyard. Leaves would be falling and the world’s axis was spinning into winter and long, cold days of nothing to do. Fall is my favourite season. It is cool. School is starting. There is a quietness in the air. Halloween is just around the corner.

Most of the cemeteries we haunted were country cemeteries; the closet one was a block outside of town. The other one we visited regularly was a mile out. We hardly ever saw anyone else there. It seemed a shame. There was so much beauty and peacefulness there and everyone else was missing it.

We come upon an old woman in black, holding an umbrella against the sun, sitting in front of her husband’s grave on an overturned bucket. She speaks to us in her own language, pointing at the face on the black headstone, crying into a hankie. Lisa gives her a fresh bottle of water. (p. 244)

Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training
by Tom Jokinen
Toronto:Random House of Canada, 2010

Country Cemetery (Dahlton)

I still haunt graveyards. I’ve taken pictures of cemeteries all over Saskatchewan, in Scotland and recently in Anchorage, Alaska. I’m always going to regret not being able to get to explore the historical cemetery at Skagway.

Death intrigues me. No, how we process death intrigues me. No, the history sitting around in graveyards entrances me. I am an explorer of the past. I like to explore what use to be.

I also wonder about what is beyond – beyond the shadows, beyond death. What is the next step? Knowing the plan calms me. I like to know the steps, what to do, what ie expected of me at each turn. Don’t surprise me. I hate surprises!

Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery

I delight in exploring cemeteries and graveyards. Did you know the two terms are not interchangeable? A cemetery is an area set apart for or containing graves, tombs, or funeral urns, especially one that is not a churchyard. A graveyard is a burial ground, associated with or beside a church.

I also delight in reading books about the death industry. I enjoyed the television series Six Feet Under and always wanted to live in a large, Victorian funeral home.

The latest funeral industry book I bought is Caitlin Doughty’s book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Caitlin oversees the blog The Order of the Good Death that I regularly read and has a series of videos about death and the way we (as a society) deal with it. Scroll down this page for the book video.

I am a cemetery girl. I haunt graveyards. Death is my familiar. I fear not.


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Bringing In The Light

December 23, 2012 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The last half of this year has been challenging. I’ve felt like I’ve been struggling to stay out of a dark place (or crawl back into one since I’m a fan of dark places like caves & crypts, catacombs & mausoleums). I like dark, quiet places that offer occasional glimpses of sunlight to bask in. I’m very much cat-like that way.

We’re nothing, we’re born, we live, we die, we rot, we’re nothing.


It was the Solstice on Friday and the world didn’t end. As I write this, I don’t know how bright and sunny the day will be but I know we will have less light and then slowly, day by day, there will be more light. Today there is more light.

Light, starlight, sunlight are all light like this. Light to show the way. Light to provide warmth. Light to lighten the spirit (supposedly).

Holiday Bright

I have been reading too much apocalyptic fiction this year. It has darkened my mood.

I tend to wander around my apartment muttering, “how many apocalypses has this been for me already.”

I tend to wonder how many ways can there possibly be for the world to end (too many, just one, do I really want to know).

Night Light

Roland and his friends fear The Wind through the Keyhole as they shelter down in the latest book of Stephen King’s Dark Tower universe.

Robots take over in Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse which is soon to be a movie.

Ben Winter’s The Last Policeman tediously ignores the asteroid hurdling towards Earth as he gets on with his job.

Zombies overshadow Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy as I eagerly await book two – The Twelve.

In future Los Angeles, Lissa Price imagines what will happen to Starters as seniors over take their bodies.

Stephen Irwin’s The Broken Ones gives us a world populated with ghosts as they haunt each and every living soul.

Day Light

How many ways can there possibly be for the world to end?

The first piece of apocalyptic fiction I read was Stephen King’s The Stand which reduces the world’s population to the size/feeling of a small town. I grew up in a small town – I know, I fear people like this.

My favourite apocalyptic fiction title concept is Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Well, do they. I want to know, don’t you? I haven’t seen the 1982 movie, Blade Runner, that was based on this story but I think I’m putting it on my list for next year (I’ll have time then since the world didn’t end and all). Maybe the movie answers the question.

Snoopy & Santa

In researching the books links for this blog post, I found some old apocalyptic fiction that I have to add to my to be read pile (which keeps growing every day I work at my library job).

I’ve never read Frankenstein, so I guess I’ll start reading Mary Shelley with her take on The Last Man; Richard Jefferies’ After London will take me to London, England – a place I’ve always wanted to see; Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon will revisit old fears about the effects of a nuclear war on a small town and I’m going to read Joyce Carol Oates’ Zombie  just because it is not about zombies.

How many ways can there possibly be for the world to end?


Couldn’t we have at least one cheery apocalypse? (Okay, Zombieland was kind of fun). Does anyone know of a book that portrays a lighter side to the apocalypse? If so, leave me a link in the comments. Thanks.

White on Red

I’ve created a cave for myself; light comes in at one end and light comes in at the other end. It is warm, it is big enough and all my things are there. I may not be able to survive an apocalypse in it but I have plenty of reading material, enough to last a year or two.

How many ways can there possibly be for one’s world to end?

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