Caitlin Doughty is one of the few people I have encountered with a similar intellectual and humorous approach to death as myself, but with an obvious appreciation for all it means and encompasses. If you have somehow missed her hilarious Ask a Mortician vlog series, I advise you youtube them immediately.
““In the Middle Ages, in the Victorian Period, … cemeteries were places where commerce took place, and lovers walked through the graves to meet at night. You had this engagement with the cemetery as a community place, which we don’t really have anymore.””
A link to a really great article & interview with Caitlin can be found: here
HORRIBLE DISCOVERY OF A GIRL EATEN BY RATS (1870s)
A most appalling discovery was made last week in the town of Haverball. The circumstances of the case are both remarkable and horrible to the last degree. The facts are as follows:
For some months past a man named William Laslett, his wife, and a daughter (a girl about thirteen years of age) have occupied two rooms on the basement story of a house in Princess Street. Laslett, it appears, is a traveling hawker in the hardware line; he keeps a horse and cart, with which he travels from town to town, and has been accustomed to be absent from home six or eight weeks at a time. Occasionally, he would take with him his daughter on his traveling expeditions, but more frequently his wife accompanied him. He left Princess Street with the latter seven weeks ago, Jane Laslett the daughter remaining behind. The young girl was seen by her neighbors for a few days after her parents had departed, when all of a sudden she was missed. The doors of both rooms in the occupation of the Laslett’s were locked, and the natural inference was that Jane had left to join her parents, and she had been known to do so before on more than one occasion. Weeks passed over; the suspicions of the other occupants of the house that something was amiss became stronger every day. An unpleasant and sickening odour crept up the staircase and found its way into the several apartments. On Monday last, a carpenter who occupied one of the upper rooms was prevailed upon to break open the door, which led to those on the basement, whereupon he was horror
struck at the sight presented to him.
Upon the door being burst open, a legion of rats scampered in all directions. The greater portion of the body of the poor girl had been devoured by the rats. The medical gentlemen who have since made a post mortem examination, concur in the opinion that Jane Laslett died suddenly from disease of the heart of long standing – that her death had in all probability taken place some weeks back, since which time the rats had been feeding on the body.
The father and mother have not yet returned, nor do the neighbours know where to communicate with them.
Nineteenth century guidebooks to Paris repeatedly featured the morgue and it became an important civic institution, a place where Parisians could stop to visit while on a stroll along the quais.
“She stood scrutinising a corpse. On a slab a few paces away, was stretched the body of a great, big fellow, a mason who had recently killed himself on the spot by falling from a scaffolding. He had a broad chest, large short muscles, and a white, well-nourished body; death had made a marble statue of him. The lady examined him, turned him round and weighed him, so to say, with her eyes. For a time, she seemed quite absorbed in the contemplation of this man. She raised a corner of her veil for one last look. Then she withdrew…”