We are living in 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? In Death's Summer Coat Brandy Schillace explores our past to examine what it might mean for our future. From Victorian Britain to contemporary Cambodia, forgotten customs and modern-day rituals, we learn about the incredibly diverse—and sometimes just incredible—ways in which humans have dealt with mortality in different times and places. Today, as we begin to talk about mortality, there are difficult questions to face. What does it mean to have a "good death?" What purpose should a funeral serve? As Schillace shows, talking about death, and the rituals associated with it, can help provide answers. It also brings us closer together—conversation and community are just 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.
Dr. Brandy Schillace writes about culture, the history of medicine, and the intersections of medicine and literature. She is the Managing Editor of the international health journal Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry and teaches at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. Brandy has lectured at the New York Academy of Medicine and writes for The Huffington Post and InsideHigherEd, among other publications.