A podcast about all things mortal from The Order of the Good Death.
Death in the Afternoon
Ways to Listen
Season One Trailer
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
My Roommate, a Corpse!
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.
Is That a…Foot?
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?
Don’t Drink the KoolAid!
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)
It’s OK to Not Decay
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.
Or Maybe, it’s a Ghost?
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, Corpse Phone
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: 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.
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!