Season Three Out Now!
A podcast about all things mortal from The Order of the Good Death.
Ways to Listen
About the Show
Welcome to your mortality, humans! This deathcast will dispel myths about death and dead bodies, dive into history and dark tales you’ve never heard before, and hopefully make you less afraid to talk about the inevitable.
Your death nerd hosts are the same team behind Ask a Mortician, who aim to educate their audience about death in a unique, relatable, and entertaining way; and sometimes (ok, all the time) they 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, answers to the death questions you’re too afraid to ask.
The two complete seasons of Death in the Afternoon spanned seventeen episodes that were downloaded by well over 1 million listeners.
The Podcast Team
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 has spent over ten years focusing on funeral industry reform and improving the public’s relationship to mortality. Her educational webseries Ask a Mortician has been viewed 200 million times and all three of her books on death culture are New York Times bestsellers. She co-owns a funeral home, Clarity Funerals, that puts her advocacy into practice in Southern California.
Sarah Chavez is the director of The Order, and former researcher, and occasional script writer for Ask a Mortician. As the child of parents in the entertainment industry, she was raised witnessing choreographed Hollywood deaths on the soundstages of some of your favorite movies. Her work in the Death Positive Movement has been influenced by her unique life, Mexican-American culture, and the strange and wondrous history surrounding death itself.
Louise Hung has been writing about death, death history, and death mythology for more than a decade. She is the producer and co-writer of Ask a Mortician. When she isn’t researching Iconic Corpses or the magic of the middle ages, Louise writes about Asian American culture, experiences, and connections to death beliefs and rituals.
Editor and composer: Dory Bavarsky
Engineering: Paul Tavaner
Season Three Trailer
Episode 1: INTERVIEW: How Human Composting Becomes Law
Our future corpses have more options than ever, with eco-friendly processes like aquamation and composting being legalized across the U.S. and Canada. Find out the nitty-gritty truths on what goes into making these death alternatives a reality where you live.
Host, Caitlin Doughty talks to Recompose founder, Katrina Spade who has been the driving force behind legalization efforts, and Order of the Good Death Executive Director, Sarah Chavez.
Episode 2: CLASSIC ARTICLE: Does Death Positive Mean Death Fearless?
Hot Take: We’re all afraid of death—whether it’s the actual state of being dead one day, the pain of dying, or how your remains will be treated. Death Positive or not, that anxiety is something that bonds us all—and while it’s scary, it’s important to know you’re not alone.
This episode is an audio version of the article “Life, Death, and the Anxiety In-Between” by Louise Hung.
Episode 3: INTERVIEW: Opening a New Green Burial Cemetery
Where would you even start in opening your own green burial ground? After all, every cemetery is a unique snowflake, with its own confusing blend of regulations. We speak with one expert who will cut through the confusion, and one practitioner who made it all happen.
Episode 4: CLASSIC ARTICLE: Washing Kathryn, Touching Death
No matter how long you’ve been working with dead bodies, nothing can prepare you for working on someone you knew and loved.
This episode is an audio version of the article “Washing Kathryn, Touching Death” by Nora Menkin.
Episode 5: INTERVIEW: How We’re Failing New Morticians
Mortuary schools began as embalming schools, sponsored by embalming chemical companies. Today, mortuary schools are designed to be more holistic, covering everything a new mortician may face in the industry. But what groups are being left out of this education? The last decade has brought hard discussions around serious gaps in what is taught to students and if they’re ready for the reality of working in the death industry.
In this episode Caitlin talks with two funeral directors, Joél Maldonado and Ezra Salter, to discuss race and gender in funeral education and practice.
Episode 6: CLASSIC ARTICLE: Whose Green Burial Is It Anyway?
In a space of loss that is already difficult to exist in, we need to do more to understand how our language surrounding green burial can better acknowledge difficult histories and experiences.
This episode is an audio version of the article “Whose Green Burial Is It Anyway?” by Corinne Elicona.
Episode 7: Legalization, TikTok, and Angry Elephants
From viral trends to new options for your future corpse, Caitlin and Sarah review the best and worst of the past year in death, revealing how the death positive movement is making an impact on the way we do death.
Episode 8: INTERVIEW: Cadaver Dog in the Cemetery
Go behind the scenes with Cat Warren, who works with cadaver dogs to find the missing dead and locate Black and Indigenous burial grounds.
Episode 9: INTERVIEW: The Doulas Taking on California’s Cemetery and Funeral Bureau
A court case in California could force death doulas to become licensed funeral directors. We talk to the doula and the lawyer taking on California’s Funeral and Cemetery Bureau.
Episode 1: Fantastic Funerary Failures
Cremation and burial are all well and good, but why aren’t our dead bodies electroplated or cemented? In our first episode of season two, we’re talking about the ridiculous funerary innovations that succeeded (see: the death-defying green parks of Hollywood) and the ridiculous funerary innovations that… didn’t (see: coffin torpedoes.) Welcome back, deathlings.
Episode 2: The Least Worst Death
Two Manhattan tragedies, two miles and ninety years apart, that changed government policy forever. But the victims couldn’t afford to step back and take this long historical view. They were caught in a horrific struggle between two paths, both leading to unimaginable death. (CW: Discussion of suicide, 9/11)
Episode 3: Dude, Where’s My Monument?
We know who gets fancy monuments: politicians, military heroes, and so many men on horses. In cemeteries the playing field may be leveling, with faces and names showing up that have never been represented in public sculpture before. But in other areas, monuments are business as usual, the dead forgotten, the Lizard People left unhonored. (That’s right… the Lizard People.)
Special thanks to Allison Meier our guest writer for this episode!
Episode 4: Maggots Holding High Carnival
The American Civil War left roughly 700,000 men dead and an entire nation devastated. With millions of pounds of rotting human flesh on the battlefields, burying the dead was a daunting, sometimes insurmountable task for the survivors. Bad when it was burying your fallen brethren, worse when it was burying the bodies of your enemy, unimaginable when it was burying the men who fought to keep you enslaved.
Episode 5: Get Your Sh*it Together
Wills, advanced directives, emergency savings accounts – what’s not to love? Ok, we get it, facing your mortality through piles of bureaucracy is about the least inspiring task on your to-do list. But paradoxically, these are the exact tasks that once you tackle them head on, put you on a one way train to chill town. In today’s episode, Caitlin, with help from her friend Chanel Reynolds, takes us on a journey to clean up her own end of life messes.
Episode 6: What’s in Your Head, Zombie?
Before zombies became the brain-eating pop culture phenomenon of the Walking (or Living) Dead, they represented something more complicated. From the procession of the Chinese dead, to hungry ghosts, to the enslaved people of Haiti, zombies say a great deal about a the country or culture where they appear. Perhaps our modern obsession with zombie films and video games also says a great deal about us? Louise and Sarah explain.
Episode 7: Is That a Corpse in my Culture?
Today we’re talking corpses as entertainment. Not the idea of a corpse (sorry, horror fans) but real live – or should we say real dead– bodies. From 18th century Rome, to 19th century Paris, to 20th century Hollywood, when can corpses be important educational tools, and when are they only tasteless shock value? Who gets to decide? Enjoy, and thank you for your support of season two of DITA.
Episode 8: Popcorn & Postmortem Predation
In this audio preview of her new book Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, Caitlin is sharing whether swallowing popcorn before you die will indeed make your cremation epic (spoiler: no) and whether your sweet cat or dog will indeed eat your eyeballs (spoiler: yes). The book will be out in print and audiobook on September 10th in the US, September 19th in the UK. Thanks deathlings!
Season One Trailer
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! (CW: Sexual violence, child sex trafficking, child abuse).
Mistakes happen. Cremations happen. But few things capture our morbid imagination like cremation mistakes happening. Whether it’s the horror of cremating your coworker, a misplaced corpse on the way to America’s first modern cremation, or plumes of “human remains particulate” interrupting your Best Buy shopping experience, nothing fans the flames of our phobias like a cremation blunder. This week we talk about things that can go right, wrong, and sideways when you’re in the business of cremating corpses.
Generally speaking, we like our limbs in context. “The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone.” But what about when we encounter limbs that aren’t connected to anybody? Just out there, free and unattached? This week we talk about rogue and extra limbs that have been found by the sea, in the smoker, and in the grave as we answer the question: is that a…foot?
Unfortunately, being in a cult doesn’t always end well. Beyond promises of salvation and immortality, one thing many cults have in common are dead bodies. This week, as we discuss the disturbing world of cults, we confront the questions: Why shouldn’t we drink the Kool-Aid? How many puppies does it take to resurrect a teen queen? And, what shouldn’t you bring into a doomsday cave? (Spoiler: corpses)
(CW: Death by suicide, murder, child death, abuse, at the top of the episode audio from the Jonestown Massacre)
Ah, to die, to decompose, to become one with the earth. Most of us accept this as our fate. But what happens when that whole “decomposition thing” doesn’t go as planned? This week we discuss incorrupt corpses that inspire devotion, grant miracles, and just might help you to become a karate champion. (CW: Child death)
Embalming. It sounds like the stuff of horror movies: pump a dead body full of chemicals to make it look alive – ALIVE! Whose idea was this? Is there really such a thing as “extreme embalming”? And what about when embalming (allegedly) goes horribly, horribly wrong? We discuss these and other questions on this week’s episode of Death in the Afternoon.
A wisp of white. A voice in the dark. A toilet mysteriously flushes by itself. Few things capture our imagination like a good ghost story. But is there more to a spooky tale than thrills and chills? What do our ghosts say about our cultural values? Are we more afraid of who haunts us, or what we’ve done to deserve that haunting? We discuss these questions this week on a very SPIRITED Death in the Afternoon.
(CW: Slavery, racial violence, police violence, violence against women).
Ring ring. Hello? Who’s there? IT’S YOUR MORTALITY CALLING. In life, phones make everything easier– just “reach out and touch someone.” But in death, reaching out can be a little more complicated. This week we talk about accessing a dead man’s cell phone, texting from beyond the grave, and the grim origins of a certain red handset.
Bonus Episode: The Haunting of Hill House- Mortuary Madness!
A bonus mini-episode on the mortuary and embalming scenes in Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. Are they accurate? A hot mess? Is my job really filled with ghosts? All that and more in today’s mini-episode with Caitlin.