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Post-Mortem Photos

If you have some old photos lying around, there is a chance that you could have some post-mortem photos lying around as well. Today, taking photos of the deceased seems like a strange and very weird thing to do. However, how often have you seen people pull out cameras at a funeral? I would say it happens fairly often. Our society seems to have made death a taboo subject, where to our ancestors, it was a part of everyday life.

If you look back in your family tree, you will most likely find that there were young children that passed away at very young ages. Many, many children could not fight the common childhood illnesses that have now practically disappeared thanks to modern medicine. Women often died in childbirth, and most families experienced the death of a close family member at some point in their life.

So, if you come across some old photos, where it looks like a child is asleep, it could very well be a picture of a child that died young. What should you do with photos like this?

As I said before, this seems morbid, and disturbing, but taking pictures of the deceased was often the only picture that was ever taken of a person. Since photography did not really become common until the late 1800’s, photos were not taken very often. In addition, the time it took to take a single photograph required the subject to remain very still for long periods of time. It was practically impossible to ask this of a small child.

When deciding what to do with these type of photos, it is important to remember that this person was loved. They had a life. They were probably surrounded by loved ones that were hoping and praying that they would live. To me, it seems unfair to throw out the only picture that may have ever been taken of one of your relatives just because it seems a little odd to you.

Scrapbooking your family history is all about respecting those that have gone on before us. Placing these photos in an album shows that you have respect for the life that was lived by that person, regardless of their state at the time the photo was taken. Place the photo on a simple matte. Do not add too many embellishments to the page. Instead, journal about the life that was lived, not the fact that the picture taken shows a life that has ended.

Meredith Ethington is the author of this blog. To learn more about Meredith, and her history with Scrapbooking and Genealogy, go here.

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