In the promotional material for Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, we are promised “a peek behind the black curtain,” a revelation of “life’s terrifying secret” by a young woman at work burning dead bodies in California—a high priestess, albeit self-appointed, in the “alternative death” community.

Spoiler alert: we die. There are no alternatives.

Caitlin Doughty belongs to the selfie generation, so she comes by her fascination with her particulars honestly. To be young and female in a crematory enterprise would be special indeed had it not become the norm some time ago. Once a mostly male endeavor, like the Marine Corps and the Rotary Club, funeral work has been feminized. The exception has become the rule.