Venice cemetery island

Death and Burial in Venice: What Does the Floating City do with Its Dead?

In Venice the dead are ferried through the canals on ornate funeral gondolas to a cemetery island where their afterlife is only guaranteed for as long as they can pay.

From Here to Eternity: How Other Cultures Care for Their Dead

Upcoming book from mortician Caitlin Doughty explores how other cultures care for their dead.
From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty
From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty – Pre-order now

Death positive mortician Caitlin Doughty, best known for her Ask a Mortician series on Youtube and her best-selling book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, just revealed her latest offering. In stores October 3rd, her new book From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death explores the intimate death rituals of cultures around the world that often seem so macabre and grotesque to Western society.

“This is three years in the making,” Caitlin wrote in the announcement on her Facebook page. “I’ve traveled all over the world to research this book, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of it. I hope you learn so much about death around the world, other cultures, and how we can improve funerals in the West.”

Here’s the description:

Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette- smoking, wish- granting human skulls), and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved- ones’ bones from cremation ashes. With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. Featuring Gorey-esque illustrations by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning? including a glowing- Buddha columbarium in Japan and America’s only open-air pyre? and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals.

From Here to Eternity - new book by mortician Caitlin Doughty

Pre-order From Here to Eternity now

Frozen Dead Guy Days: Colorado Festival Celebrates a Frozen Corpse in a Shed

Bredo Morstoel is Nederland, Colorado’s most famous resident…because he has been dead and kept frozen in a shed since 1989.
Frozen Dead Guy
Sarcophagus of the Frozen Dead Guy. Photo by Bo Shaffer.

Every month a designated caretaker known as “The Iceman,” a position currently held by Nederland resident Brad Wickham, hauls 1,700 pounds of dry ice to the “Tuff Shed Cryogenic Mausoleum” where the corpse of a man born 115 years ago has taken up residence. Grandpa, as the locals call him, lies inside a steel sarcophagus entombed within a homemade freezer of plywood and insulation. He’s been there for over 20 years awaiting technological advancements sufficient enough to reanimate the dead.

When Norwegian man Bredo Morstoel died of a heart attack in 1989, his grandson Trygve Bauge put the body on ice and transported it to the United States. It was stored at a California cryonics lab in liquid nitrogen until 1993, when Bauge and his mother Aud decided to build their own facility in a shack behind their Nederland home.

Bauge was eventually deported due to issues with his visa, and Aud was later evicted from her home for not having electricity and plumbing. Fearful of a thaw, Aud decided to tell someone that the body of her father, as well as two other individuals, were being kept frozen on the property.

Despite new municipal legislation outlawing the keeping of a dead body, the publicity bought Grandpa Bredo a pass, and he was allowed to remain. Bauge enlisted the help of a man named Bo Shaffer, whom he paid monthly to procure the ice and keep the temperature around 60 degrees below zero.

Shed where the frozen dead guy is stored
The Tuff Shed Cryogenic Museum. Image via Wikimedia Commons

In 2012, due to a disagreement over pay and the fact that Bauge didn’t think Shaffer was using enough ice, the Iceman duties changed hands. At that time, Bauge told media he planned to move his grandfather to a cryogenic facility in Michigan in 2015. Since the festival is now celebrating it’s 16th year, it seems that move hasn’t yet come to fruition.

Since the body is not visible, and the dry ice does not keep it frozen at the same temperatures achieved with liquid nitrogen, there has been some concern that there may be too much cellular damage to revive Grandpa. According to an article over at Live Science, Bauge is still hopefully Bredo could be cloned and brought back to life, but a psychic who spoke with Shaffer believes Grandpa’s spirit has moved on.

See the shed in this 2010 video:

Frozen Dead Guy Days

Frozen Dead Guy Days

The inaugural Frozen Dead Guy Days kicked off in March of 2002 in honor of the March 6th deadline Aud was given to remove her father’s body from Nederland in 1995 after she was found guilty of building-use and zoning violations. It wasn’t long before a local Tuff Shed dealer and a radio station teamed up to build a new home for Grandpa – the “Tuff Shed Cryogenic Mausoleum” also known as the International Cryonics Institute and Center for Life Extension, or ICICLE.

Annual festivities include the Royal Blue Ball, tours of the shed, live music, coffin races, hearse parade, frozen t-shirt contests, The Newly Dead Game, Rocky Mountain Oyster eating contest, an Ice Queen and Grandpa look alike contest, and much more.

More info at

Milwaukee Parent Wants Teacher Fired for Using Ouija Board in Class

The unnamed parent claims her son is now having nightmares after his teacher used a Ouija board in the classroom.
Milwaukee teacher used a Ouija board in class

Milwaukee news station WISN is reporting that an elementary school teacher has been removed from her classroom following a complaint that she used a Ouija board and frightened her students.

A parent claims her 5-year-old is now having nightmares and is scared of the dark ever since the February 24th incident in which, as she described, “They were shutting off the lights and making it dark and talking to spirits. That’s not something that should be at school.”

In an email to the outraged parent, the teacher explained, “The kids have been asking for a scary story and I got the board and moved the paper clip to answer some of their questions. They asked about scary characters in movies. I did not say there were spirits. It was all done in fun. I understand your concern. It was silly and I’m sorry. I will take the board home and this won’t happen again.”

She said the Ouija board had been in the classroom since Halloween.

The mother is asking school officials for the teacher to be fired. She has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

Related Ouija Board posts:

I’m no educator (or uptight parent), but wouldn’t a Ouija board be a really great tool to help bring up those spelling test scores?