A woman sits in a dark room.


Written by Erika Engelhaupt, ScienceNews


Death: A Graveside Companion makes for an unusual coffee-table book, with its coppery etched Grim Reaper on the cover. Yet you may be surprised by how much fun it is to pore through the book’s lavish artwork of skulls, cadavers and fanciful imaginings of the afterlife.


There is, after all, a reason for the term “morbid curiosity.” It’s only natural for people to try to understand and come to terms with their inevitable demise, and as the book reveals, it is only in modern Western society that the topic of death has become so taboo. Even as recently as Victorian times, the book notes, the dead were laid out in the family parlor, their hair cut off and twisted to make decorative mementos to hang on the wall.


As a founder of New York City’s now-closed Morbid Anatomy Museum, Joanna Ebenstein has set out to help change modern attitudes, by giving us permission to let our morbid curiosity loose. “It is my hope that this book might act as a gesture towards redeeming death, to invite it back into our world in some small way,” she writes. “It is precisely by keeping death close at hand and coming to terms with its inevitability that we are able to lead full rich lives.”


Read the rest of the article here.