A Picture Paints A Thousand Words

I saw a Twitter post a few weeks ago about “Selfies” being taken at funerals and I have to admit I panicked thinking that people were somehow including the deceased in the picture.

Thank goodness I was wrong – the culprits are usually just bored, narcissistic teenagers who entertain themselves at funerals by capturing themselves looking sad.

I can’t imagine what my parents would have done if they had found me taking selfies at my grandparents’ funerals!  I wonder how many parents educate their children about what they will see, what their expectation for behavior is and what they could do during the service to help since they are a member of the grieving family?

Is it just easier for parents to relinquish their responsibilities, have them invite their friends, and keep them busy by allowing them to document their own activity with their cell phones? 

The article about selfies got me to think about the pictures we took of my deceased husband and his funeral after the funeral director recommended it.  Even after witnessing the realities of my husband’s death in the emergency room and having an open casket at his funeral, I still feel uncomfortable about taking pictures.

However, I have a very young child so they advise me to take pictures (or assign this job to someone capable of it) and I am glad that I did.  Births, baptisms, weddings and deaths are all a part of our family history and they should be memorialized and documented.

Because my son Matt is just over two when his father dies, it is important to have pictures if he ever questions our story or needs proof for himself.  So my uncle who is a photographer documents through pictures, the worst day of our lives.  Pictures of Chris, the flowers, the visitors and the funeral procession as it travels to the cemetery.

Years later the pictures prove to be a helpful way to share the story of that day with my son.  We talk about the unique floral arrangements received and the long line of cars accompanying us to the burial.  Then I ask if he wants to see pictures of his dad, reassuring him that either way I support his decision and that if he is not ready, he might be some day.

Matt decides to look at the pictures and it stimulates questions but since he has no personal memories of that day it does not seem traumatizing or uncomfortable.  He shares later that it felt right to look at them and to know it “really happened.”


The age of my child at the time of his father’s death, made my decision seem logical and if I had older children who had their own memories of that day themselves, my decision might have been different.

How do you feel about my decision?  Have you ever taken pictures of your deceased loved one?  If so, has it been helpful in your grieving process or aided someone else?

Do you feel that you could or would want to take pictures to document a loved one’s funeral?  Don’t be shy, please share your thoughts…


This entry was posted in behavior, funerals, Grief, My story, Photography, Rituals and Traditions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A Picture Paints A Thousand Words

  1. hjhadams says:

    When I was a freshman in college, both of my mom’s parents passed away within 6 months of each other. My mom passed away the following summer. We have pictures of all three of them from the funerals and although it still kind of “weirds me out”, I think it is good to have the pictures for future generations.

    • Greet Grief says:

      Sounds like you had a difficult year as you began college and then had to say goodbye to so many loved ones? I know what you mean, I just looked at the pictures again myself and although it is kind of scary, there is a comfort in it as well. I’m glad you have the pictures and that you feel good about it, thanks for sharing!

  2. Kathy Kwiatkowski says:

    Wow, I so wanted to do this at my dad’s funeral! But I didn’t, and I’ve always regretted it. I thought people might think it weird at the time (especially members of my family) but I really wish I would have. The hardest thing for me was closing that casket and knowing I would never see my dad again. I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want to let go. That last picture, I think, would have helped me.

    • Greet Grief says:

      Kathy – yes, I think it does help days and years later. But don’t beat yourself up, even though I took pictures of Chris, I never did my dad, or my Godmother or any of those who died after he did. I regret that as well so now all we both can do is take the pictures next time! Sorry there will be a next time but that too is reality… thanks for your comment and for your honesty!

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