Post mortem photography

A Victorian-era photograph of parents posing with their dead daughter. It was a custom in that era, before people could quickly travel great distances to attend funerals, to photograph the dead so their loved ones could see them as they were before burial.

If pictures are worth 1000 words, are post mortem photography pictures worth more?

While this isn’t a story about ghosts or ghost hunting, it’s certainly got me wondering. Would I do something like this? Why do these photos creep me out?

Imagine a family picture of mom, dad, brother, sister, and there’s grandma.  Well, she’s dead but we wanted just one last family photo together.

These aren’t photos of death; they’re apparently to preserve the memory of the loved one until the moment they passed.

As the common practice of post-mortem photography in North America and Western Europe has largely ceased, the portrayal of such images has become increasingly seen as vulgar, sensationalistic and taboo. This is in marked contrast to the beauty and sensitivity perceived in the older tradition, indicating a cultural shift that may reflect wider social discomfort with death.

Search post mortem photography online for pictures and more history.

-Darin

3 thoughts on “Post mortem photography

  1. I’ve read many times about families paying a lot of money to have pictures taken of their dead relatives. A lot of times, they didn’t have many (or any) pictures of their loved one–such as a baby.

    Also……although I can’t say it’s NEVER done now……but it used to be VERY common to bring the loved one to lie in their home for a few days for visitation before the funeral.

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