ON picture taking in wakes and funerals


The first death in the family when I was old enough to feel it was that of my brother. I was in third year high school then. I don’t recall any pictures being taken.This was in 1973.

When I was in second year college, my Lolo died. I don’t know where we were but I do recall a picture was taken. I found that so bizarre… we stood by his coffin. After seeing that picture once, I never looked at it again.

When I was in  fourth year college, my mother died. Pictures were taken of us walking from church to the cemetery. A sister arranged the photos in a brown album (sold in Kameraworld at the time). I looked at it once and never again. What on earth for? To recall, to re-live the sadness? My mother is in my heart, she’s alive in me and not dead in some coffin.

Then five years ago, my father died. Again, pictures were taken. This time in the “reception” after the funeral — at least those were the photos I saw. I never saw any of the phtos taken in church (if any were taken to begin with) nor in the funeral parlor. Nonetheless, I still found those photos taken in the “reception” bizarre because there we were, having just buried our father but we were smiling in the pictures. Why? Because there was a camera, I guess.

If and when I die and am waked and then brought to rest, I hope no one will take pictures. I just might come back to confiscate the cameras and the photos, hahaha.

Because what for the pictures?

To document what? Grief? Consolation? Presence?

Spare me.

I rest my case.

*********

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5 thoughts on “ON picture taking in wakes and funerals

  1. Taking pictures (especially selfies!) at a wake and funeral does seem disrespectful. I’ve even seen photos of a widow mid-faint – and that’s in 2002, before digital cameras became cheap and ubiquitous. I remember being weirded out. Sadly, there are also several pictures of my lolo’s wake hidden somewhere in the house, because with relatives, you have to choose your battles.

    Hahaha, you are so feisty, Ms. Pseudoshrink! 🙂

  2. Glad to know I have a kindred spirit where this is concerned. I find it so unsettling. Especially when photos were taken of us at the kainan after Papa’s burial. I caught myself smiling before the camera and I thought how dumb of me. Smiling when one sees a camera is almost like a reflex action, so instinctive.

    Wow, I hope you’ll never witness anyone’s taking a selfie with the dead as described. That would be so bizarre.

  3. I agree with you. It seems odd, incongruous even, for pictures to be taken during a wake or a funeral. I don’t see the purpose. None of the important elements are likely to be forgotten — not the grief, not the person.

    I don’t know how I would react when faced with a camera in a wake. Should I smile? Shouldn’t I? (I look terrible when I’m unsmiling.) Another thing I avoid is looking at the body. I’m not afraid or anything, but it just seems disrespectful to stare. I usually take one quick look (one last look) and then I avert my gaze.

    God forbid I see someone take a selfie with a peace sign and tongue out. I just might pull out that darn tongue.

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