Review: ‘All the Living and the Dead,’ by Hayley Campbell – The New York Times

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ALL THE LIVING AND THE DEAD: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life’s Work, by Hayley Campbell


“Conceptually, death is mere tragedy. But in reality, it also comes with a particular pain many people are unequipped for: the scourge of logistics and bureaucracy. There are documents to fill, possessions to ship, professionals to hire, ceremonies to organize. Many of us prefer not to think about the mundane details of death, and entire industries exist to help people in avoiding those procedural needs, waiting out of sight until called upon, then springing into action to help protect the living from encountering the dead.

“By living in this manufactured state of denial, in the borderlands between innocence and ignorance, are we nurturing a fear that reality doesn’t warrant?” Hayley Campbell asks in her new book, “All the Living and the Dead.” “I wanted unromantic, unpoetic, unsanitized visions of death. I wanted the naked, banal reality of this thing that will come to us all.” “