The topic of death is often difficult or plain uncomfortable to discuss, but for many it remains a point of interest and curiosity. There are others who view death as simply another part of life and therefore a topic to be discussed with frankness and honesty. Caitlin Doughty is one such person, and she has made it her life’s work to make it easier for those unsettled by death to ask questions and talk about the end. It’s a good thing Doughty isn’t shy about death. As a 30-year old mortician, she isn’t just answering questions of the curious; she’s already written and published her memoirs, detailing her life as a young person with a serious interest in death, cemeteries, and the like. It’s also in her memoirs that she refers to cremation as “the American way of death” as she points out the many options offered to any who choose cremation.

As a licensed mortician, Doughty has noted the chasm between those who refuse to discuss death and those who are genuinely curious and interested by it. She wanted to bridge this gap between the two and allow those made nervous by the topic to ask some of their most burning questions, and she does so in a very public way. In her YouTube series entitled “Ask A Mortician,” Doughty tackles topics including what happens to hip, knee, and breast implants, if dead bodies are dangerous, and “Are Those My Mother’s Ashes?” In each video Doughty answers these questions and more with candor and compassion, accepting and even encouraging the curious. Of all the topics she discusses, there is one which is particularly close to her heart. In a series of interviews given for the release of her memoirs, Doughty spoke passionately about the rights families have when it comes to their deceased loved ones.

“The biggest misnomer is that funeral directors are uniquely qualified to take care of dead bodies the way a layperson isn’t,” said Doughty in an interview with CBS News.

“You have all the resources available to you. All you need is the ability to get over your own fears.”

Each state has their own laws when it comes to handling the deceased, but Doughty claims that, generally speaking, families are allowed to keep the bodies in the earliest days of grieving. This allows the families to host private wakes in their house and allow people to say goodbye in their own way. Afterwards, family members can wrap the body of their loved one in a shroud and call the crematory or funeral home to pick it up. Though licensed workers are ultimately the only people allowed to process the body, Doughty says the family has many rights which most aren’t aware of. For instance, in many states families are allowed to accompany licensed workers as they prepare the body for cremation.

Doughty doesn’t only want to challenge Americans’ perception of death and the death industry, she also wants to challenge people to discuss the issue of death in an open and safe way. In doing so, she also highlights the many benefits of choosing cremation. Cremation has grown in popularity over the past several years largely because of the many options it affords both the deceased and their loved ones. Those who preplan their cremation are able to customize a memorial to their exacting specifications, and family members are allowed to remember and grieve as they will.

Every family is afforded rights when it comes to grieving their loved ones, but there are state-specific details which must be considered. If you have questions about these rights or about cremation in general, contact the Cremation Society of Philadelphia today. Our compassionate and reputable staff are more than happy to answer any question you may have about preplanning a cremation or the cremation process. Call the Cremation Society of Philadelphia today at (610) 572-7078.