“I know how much I treasure the photos of my baby we took when he died.”
“I wish I had taken photos at my husband’s funeral.”
“I would never do that and cannot imagine having photos of their funeral.”
On Saturday, Tim and I had the honor to photograph a funeral. Some people may find this foreign to them. It certainly did to me. We do not do that in my family. At least not that I have ever seen. I had always thought I would never be able to look at something like that. Until you take the photos.
This was not the funeral of someone who had lived a long life. This was the funeral of a nine-year-old boy. It was hard. It was emotional. It was devastating to watch even through a lens. I will never know what they were going through but I hope that our images will bring them comfort. Comfort may not happen in the next weeks, months, or years. Someday.
I do not know if I can bring myself to go in to the details. The sights. The sounds. The emotion. It is still so very raw for me. I was simply observing and capturing. Capturing the grief of others.
What I will share are the things I learned from Saturday.
1. I am an artist. I never fully felt it before Saturday but now I know that I am. My art changed and although it will never see the light of day, what I captured on Saturday was the best work of my life.
2. Grief takes so many shapes and sizes. No one expresses it the same way. We can't know what they feel inside or how they want to express that pain. Be patient with those who grieve.
3. Children are resilient and amazing people. The bravest people. The can speak with more grace about their friend dying than most adults. And then go play with each other.
4. There will be sounds that will live with you forever.
5. Even people who deal with death everyday still weep. Because we love and feel and it doesn't end even in the profession of helping the dead.
6. Take the photo. Do not wait. If you do not hire us, hire someone. Your children, spouse, parents, friends – will want the photo. We do not know when we will not get to be in them.
I never got a chance to meet B but I know I will love him forever. He gave me a gift. I discovered so much from this experience. I know that as hard as it was to do the shoot, I would do it again for another family. I now know the importance, the beauty, the love that can be expressed through my lens.