Finding the body

Kate Braestrup’s memoir is all about bodies: living and dead, lost and found. A chaplain for the Maine Warden Service, Braestrup writes about search-and-rescue missions to find hikers and hunters lost in the forests, mountains and bogs of the state. At the sad conclusion of many of these forays, she must kneel beside a dead body, pray over it and help to load it into a body bag, then comfort the loved ones who remain.

As a widow too, Braestrup writes about bodies: her husband’s, dead in a car accident, and her own and her four children’s as they react to the sudden loss. Against the advice of many, Braestrup insisted on bathing and dressing her husband’s corpse. When the baffled funeral director inquired into her plans for disposing of the remains, she writes in characteristically simple but gorgeous prose, her first thought was: “I am his remains.”


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