Post-Mortem Photography

Day 60. 158 pages, 76,833 words.

Today’s blog post is a lazy one brought to you by “Uncle” George Takei and his random reposting of trending and viral-slash-previral amusing stuff on Facebook and other social media. Got a lot to do and since we didn’t get in and to bed until midnight last night, I slept in and as a result have no time for non-work-related stuff today. Which is sad.

Anyway, on my breakfast Facebook-scroll, I found that Unkie George had posted up a link to this ghoulish little story.

So, I don’t know, apparently post-mortem photography was a thing, and it’s not like this has really gone anywhere. I guess we don’t pose them and sit our living family down with them (well, not very often), but open casket and touch-ups and all the rest are very much still a thing.

What interested me most about this – which may seem a little odd given my track record – was the comments the article received.

Oh comments section. Never change. I know you won't.

Uncensored, because they posted these as-is to the website so fair dos.

Okay, so it was hard to tell which was more laughable – the horrified tone of the original article and its attitude about taboo, or the counter-comments about how it’s modern western society that has made death a taboo and so the article was offensive and should be taken down. Actually, I think I’m going to go with the latter being more laughable, although it does seem to be true that we have gotten more hands-off and denial-y about the whole ‘death’ thing. The article didn’t need to make value judgements to make that point. But “offensive, take it down”? Really? There’s an interesting double standard.

What interested me most was the accusation that most of the pictures weren’t showing dead people. I went to the website plugged in the comments and while I was not quite ready to go for a membership to the site (uh, for, let’s call it ‘reasons’, and move on), it certainly seemed more legit than the shouty viral site.

Either way, I found the very idea confronting. And the images, whether of actual dead people or people we were supposed to think of as dead, standing or sitting with their living kin, was … I don’t know, I reacted to it at an interesting gut level. And I don’t just mean I got queasy, although some of it was hard to look at. I can’t do ‘tiny little dead people’ anymore, since a pair of tiny little living people entered my life. Simple fact of breeder biology.

It did make me think about why I would have that instinctive reaction, and why some people would be even more extreme. Something changed in the past couple of hundred years. Heck, a lot changed. But people in our lives dying? That didn’t change.

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