This Party's Dead : Grief, Joy and Spilled Rum at the World's Death Festivals
By Erica Buist
What if we responded to death... by throwing a party?
By the time Erica Buist's father-in-law Chris was discovered, upstairs in his bed, his book resting on his chest, he had been dead for over a week. She searched for answers (the artery-clogging cheeses inhis fridge?) and tried to reason with herself (does daughter-in-law evenfeature in the grief hierarchy?) and eventually landed on an inevitable,uncomfortable truth: everybody dies.
While her husband maintained a semblance of grace and poise, Erica found herself consumed by her grief, descending into a bout of pyjama-clad agoraphobia, stalking friends online to ascertain whether any of them had also dropped dead without warning, unable to extract herself from the spiral of death anxiety...until one day she decided to reclaim control. With Mexico's Day of the Dead festivities as a starting point, Erica decided to confront death head-on by visiting seven death festivals around the world - one for every day they didn't find Chris.
From Mexico to Nepal, Sicily, Thailand, Madagascar, Japan and finally Indonesia -with a stopover in New Orleans, where the dead outnumber the living ten to one- Erica searched for the answers to both fundamental and unexpected questions around death anxiety. This Party's Dead is the account of her journey to understand how other cultures deal with mortal terror, how they move past the knowledge that they're going to die inorder to live happily day-to-day, how they celebrate rather than shy away from the topic of death - and how when this openness and acceptance are passed down through the generations, death suddenly doesn't seem so scary after all.
JOIN OUR ZOOM EVENT ON WEDNESDAY MARCH 10TH AT 7PM TO HEAR ERICA BUIST IN CONVERSATION WITH GUARDIAN JOURNALIST STUART HERITAGE. TICKETS FREE WITH PURCHASE OF THE BOOK, OR £3 FROM OUR EVENTS PAGE, FULLY REDEEMABLE AGAINST THE PURCHASE OF THE BOOK AT A LATER DATE.