My History with Death
Ever since I was young, I was always intrigued by the subject of death. From drawing headstones when I was in 3rd grade, as a way of abstract storytelling, to photographing dead animals on country roads in my late teens, it was never a subject that brought me fear or recoil. I wouldn't shy from talking about death in conversation. Growing up, we always buried our deceased pets by the garden or a tree, complete with memorials and flowers. As I gradually learned that my ease with the topic of death was foreign to most and even off-putting to some, it became something I kept more and more to myself and within my artwork. It wasn't until 2015 that a chain of serendipitous events, initiated by the death of my maternal grandmother, led me to discover the Death Midwives. I instantly knew I needed to become one.
"Life is not the opposite of death; birth is."
So, what is a Death Midwife?
A death midwife is a non-medical, holistic and heart-centered resource for support with and information regarding the death and dying process. Our work includes listening and comforting, education and advocacy, making arrangements and assisting with preparations, and creating a nurturing and safe spaces.
You can learn more about Death Midwifery here.
Working with Death.
After becoming certified as a death midwife in 2018, I began to consider how this newly acquired knowledge could inform my therapeutic photography.
During the dying and grieving periods, there is a reluctance to capture those moments in pictures, and even an assumed irreverence. We want to remember our dying as they were in life. We don't want to remember the feelings of pain and loss. However, a friend of mine, whose husband passed from terminal cancer, put it best when she said contemplatively, "You know, looking back, I wish I did have something like a nice photo of us in those precious final moments together. As difficult as it was, it was an intimate and special time we shared."
This sacred service I offer might not be for everyone, and that's okay. To me it comes from a place of reverence, compassion and witnessing. Similar to my Therapeutic Portraiture® process, we will have a consultation beforehand so I can be sure that the work can proceed with as much sensitivity and care as possible. If this feels like something you are interested in exploring, I would love to be in touch.
What Bereavement Photography could look like for you:
- An intimate portrait of you with your loved one(s) in their final moments or after their passing.
- An image of your loved one's belongings or of a room where they spent time.
- Photos before, during, and/or after a memorial service or burial.
- Images of family members, looking through photo albums or doing something together in honor of their loved one.
- A therapeutic portrait that captures your feelings about death and dying, or your experience of grief or the grieving process.
- A video of you having a conversation with your loved one about their life.
- A video of your family members gathered, sharing memories and conversing about your loved one's life.
- A video of you sharing your stories or sending messages to future generations.
- Any other meaningful image we consult upon creating.
A "Book of Life"
"Book of Life" is a custom-made photo album that I create for you, telling the story of your loved one's life. I will scan and restore old photos, negatives and documents as well as use digital files and any images from bereavement sessions we may have engaged in.
For more information, please inquire via the contact link below.
How Much Union There Can Be
look at love
how it tangles
with the one fallen in love
look at spirit
how it fuses with earth
giving it new life
why are you so busy
with this or that or good or bad
pay attention to how things blend
why talk about all
the known and the unknown
see how the unknown merges into the known
why think seperately
of this life and the next
when one is born from the last
look at your heart and tongue
one feels but deaf and dumb
the other speaks in words and signs
look at water and fire
earth and wind
enemies and friends all at once
the wolf and the lamb
the lion and the deer
far away yet together
look at the unity of this
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox
you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled just for you and me
be like sugarcane
sweet yet silent
don’t get mixed up with bitter words
my beloved grows
right out of my own heart
how much more union can there be