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Jackie Dent

The Great Dead Body Teachers

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‘The first exhumation was the beginning of my intrigue with death, which has persisted. As a journalist, I’ve written about graveyards, funerals and death doulas. I always visit the local cemetery wherever I am in the world. But one thing that has largely been hidden from me in this death trip is the dead body.'

This is the story of how Jackie Dent’s grandparents — Ruby and Julie — gave their bodies to science when they died. No one in her family seems to know why, or what really happened with their bodies afterwards. Were they avid science buffs? Was it to save on cremation costs? How do scientists tackle the practicalities and ethics of dealing with the bodies of dead loved ones and cutting them up for research?
Weaving the personal with the history of medical cadaver research, Jackie Dent explores the practicalities and ethics of whole-body dissection — all the while looking for answers as to what happened to her grandparents.