Despite the commonality, and frankly, inevitability, of death, its taboo nature does not lend itself well to emotional or practical preparation. Death is a topic that the media rarely touches – at least in terms of the day-to-day practicalities of death work.
In this second event in our Loss and Legacy series, we’ll watch a documentary that lays bare this “mysterious” process. Raw, honest, and void of pretense or the kind of sentimentality typically encountered in Hollywood films about death, this award-winning documentary (Special Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival) offers a real world look into what happens behind-the-scenes and the kinds of considerations and logistical tasks in play.
In lieu of a narrative arc, and told from the perspective of death workers, the documentary provides vivid snapshots of who gets called when a deceased person is discovered, how possessions are handled, and what happens when a body is unclaimed and/or there is no next of kin.
Over the course of our gathering, we’ll divide the documentary into three sections, spending time after each to have a focused community discussion prompted by questions raised in the scenes. At the close of the film, we’ll have a larger philosophical discussion about the practical endeavor of death work and some of the questions about life & death (and how we relate to others) that it raises.
In addition to providing a warm, philosophical forum for exploring death, this documentary invites rich thoughts about what goes into how to prepare ourselves and others, what roles people play & the impact of such work, and some of the broader social & philosophical considerations therein.
Note: Given the nature of this documentary, you will encounter sensitive images, including visuals such as maggots, decaying skin, and plastic-wrapped bodies. As such, unlike our normal gatherings, we are not planning on offering any food/snacks. We will, however, have water and hot tea.