Death in the Afternoon Podcast – My Roommate, a Corpse: Season 1: Episode 1

Welcome to Death in the Afternoon, a new podcast about all things mortal, from The Order of the Good Death.

Each week, for the next seven Wednesdays you’ll get a new episode of Death in the Afternoon; a podcast about all things mortal. You can listen (and subscribe!) on iTunes or Spotify.

What can I expect from Death in the Afternoon?

Our mission is to educate our audience about death in a unique, relatable, and entertaining way; to further open up conversations about death in a death phobic culture. And sometimes (ok, all the time) let things get delightfully bizarre.

From our podcast you can expect:

  • The surprisingly heartwarming tale of a woman who just couldn’t say goodbye to her dead family.
  • Baffling, chilling, and bizarre stories of when people die in a cult.
  • When embalming goes right, wrong, and WTF.

Plus many more stories plucked from current events, our favorite historical incidents, and death folklore. You can listen to our Season One trailer here.

For each episode of Death in the Afternoon we’ll publish a blog with images, additional reading, watching or listening, and behind the scenes notes about the making of each episode.

Welcome to our first episode, My Roommate, a Corpse!

Episode description: In our first episode we take you on a magical (ok, not always so magical) journey of living with the dead. From an adorable 91 year old lady with a dark secret, to a rhinestone studded cult with resurrection ambitions, to a Japanese mummy collecting government assistance. Buckle up, and welcome to Death in the Afternoon!

When we were developing the podcast an episode about living with the dead was a priority. Although we rearranged the release order for most episodes several times, My Roommate, a Corpse! remained our pick for the first episode.

In the first act, you’ll meet Jean Stevens, who could not bear to part with her husband and twin sister when they died.

Jean Stevens holds a photograph from the 1940s of herself and her late husband, James, outside her home in Wyalusing, Pa. (Rubinkam/AP)

91 Year Old’s Pennsylvania Corpse Abuse Case is Complicated

Update on 91 Year Old Pennsylvania Woman Keeping Corpses in House

 

From SPLC, Tony and Susan Alamo.

In Sarah’s segment we hear the bizarre and unsettling tale of Tony and Susan Alamo. One of Sarah and Caitlin’s favorite pieces here on the Order blog was written by Order member and Alamo expert, Greta P. Allendorf, whose piece about the Alamos was the basis for the segment. Unfortunately, we had to remove the piece, but since then we’ve been looking for another way to share the story.

The area in the Alamo compound where Susan’s corpse was displayed for months.

nwaonline.com

The mausoleum Susan was interred in, before her corpse was removed and went on the lam with Tony and other cult members.

A genuine, “groovy,” Tony Alamo of Nashville jacket. You can read more about How Brutal Cult Leader Tony Alamo Amassed A Fortune With Bedazzled Denim Jackets in this piece from Refinery29.

 

The mummified corpse of Sogen Kato.

For the final segment of our first episode, co-host Louise Hung shares her thoughts about lonely deaths, the aging population in Japan, and Kato Sogen. Here’s Louise:

Whenever I’ve researched the senior citizen population in Japan and lonely deaths, I’ve found the experience to be both fascinating and heartbreaking. Contemplating an entire generation, potentially several generations, that must confront the reality of dying a lonely death is sobering. While I am not Japanese, I only lived there for a few years, thinking about lonely deaths or even hidden corpses in Japan always makes me think of an apartment building on the outskirts of the rural town I lived in for a time.

Far from the train tracks and main road, tucked against the wooded mountainside, there was a graying building that rose taller than the rest. I often rode my bicycle by the building in the afternoon when I had to get away from my computer. Its size was daunting, but it also seemed to shrink back. Really, I didn’t like to look at it but I couldn’t look away. I wonder if the whole town felt that way. Though there was a playground nearby, I never saw children play there. The seesaws were brightly colored but the mouldering building seemed to cast a pall on it. I only saw old women come and go from the building.

Hunched, tiny women walked the overgrown concrete path from the road to one of the many of dim hallways that lead to concrete inner staircases. Some had cramped ground floor flats with sliding glass doors that occasionally revealed crowded homes with tatami mats, mounds of papers, and plants. Often a small, old TV.

The building always looked gray and old. Like its inhabitants? I rode by that building several times a week and never saw any people who you wouldn’t feel obliged to carry groceries for or give a seat up to on the train. When I think of lonely deaths, an aging population with nobody but themselves, their mortality, and the other solo individuals around them, I think of that building. I wonder how many Kato Sogens or “missing centenarians” have dwelled there in life and in death.

Additional resources:

Checking on Japan’s aging population

A Generation in Japan Faces a Lonely Death 

Sogen Kato and Deceased Payee Fraud 

Cleaning Up After the Dead 

 

 

Death in the Afternoon is a podcast written, researched, and developed by Caitlin Doughty, Sarah Chavez, and Louise Hung of The Order of the Good Death. 

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician and funeral home owner in Los Angeles, CA. Along with Sarah and Louise she runs The Order of the Good Death and the Good Death Foundation, orgs that spread the death positive gospel around the world through video series like Ask a Mortician, blogs, bestselling books, and now, a gosh darn podcast!

Sarah Chavez is the executive director of The Order of the Good Death. As the child of parents in the entertainment industry, she was raised witnessing choreographed Hollywood deaths on soundstages. Her work has been influenced by her unique life and weaves together the relationship between death and food, feminism, Mexican-American death rituals, and the strange and wondrous history surrounding the culture of death itself.

Louise Hung is a writer, researcher, and community manager for The Order of the Good Death. While she can usually be found hunched over her computer working on video scripts for Ask a Mortician, Louise has also been known to tap out a few words about death in folklore, history, pop culture, and Asian or Asian American communities.

Editor and composer: Dory Bavarsky

Engineering: Paul Tavener

Special thanks to Alamo cult expert, Greta P. Allendorf who lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with her daughter, Maude. She is a home funeral guide and serves on the board of the National Home Funeral Alliance.  In her spare time, she sells dead people’s clothing at her vintage store, Cheap Thrills, and obsesses over cults.

 

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