Your Family Deserves to be seen

"It's like the value of life is less this year. People are desensitized to death."

That was part of the conversation while planning for a photography session for a family member's last day. I agree. It's easy to push off all of the death that is in the media as irrelevant when it isn't directly personal; it feels necessary. I believe human brains weren't meant to process loss and death on the scale we have taken in through the traditional and social media channels this year.

This family felt alone because someone they love was dying and the rest of the world just couldn't be bothered to care. The collective cup of death was already full and overflowing, and there was no community for them to call on.

So they called me.

We planned two sessions: one as a short-notice event on a good day and one on the day of the euthanasia appointment, which would happen in their backyard. There are plenty of people who frequently remind me that this kind of photography is sick and morbid, and there is no reason to have photographs of someone so close to death.

Yes, thank you for that. You've grandly overestimated my interest in your opinion.

It's not about waiting for death. It's about honoring life. It's about comfort. It's about care and compassion. It's about witnessing unconditional love, which includes hard stuff.

It's about feeling seen, heard, acknowledged, and validated. It's about appreciating the tremendously life-changing value of this relationship and how it will move with you through the rest of your life. It's about noting the important details and spaces, like a favorite sleeping spot or the collection of prescriptions in the kitchen cabinet.

It's about making a place in family history for an event that changes the course of your lives. Everyone in the family.

These aren't the kinds of photographs that people enlarge for a wall gallery or hang over the sofa. They aren't meant to be. They are meant to be the hand on your shoulder, the hug, and the quietly supportive friend who says, "I see your pain and it is valid."

At a time like this, when it seems so many people are retreating from the hard stuff and the social support crumbles, that's especially valuable.