Caitlin Doughty's memoir Smoke Gets In Your Eyes draws on her own experience as both a mortician and a historian to describe and compare the ways in which various cultures have cared for dead bodies. The most common methods of disposing of dead bodies are burial and cremation. After a body is cremated, the ashes are often buried, kept in an urn, or scattered.
Unless burial or cremation takes place very soon after death, the body will usually be preserved by embalming. Mummification was an ancient Egyptian method of embalming, and various other forms of temporary preservation have been used throughout history. The most common modern method is to replace the dead body's blood with a chemical fluid to slow decomposition. This allows mourners at a funeral to view the body in an open casket.
For most bodies, the phase of caring for them is a brief prelude to disposal. They can be preserved by taxidermy, but this is rare, and examples are generally agreed to be ghoulish in appearance. Bodies can be buried without coffins for composting (and therefore used to grow a tree or other plant) or buried at sea (where they are swiftly consumed). Doughty also mentions oTibetan-style sky-burial (in which the body is eaten by vultures), and the consensual, sacred cannibalism of dead bodies that used to be practiced by the Wari' people.