There are few things in life that we as a culture tend to shy away from, death is one of them. Talking about it is rarely done and thinking about it, even, seems to have such a negative connotation attached to it. I personally try not to dwell on it as there is too much good in life to experience, but understanding it and accepting it as part of life I think is important. It helps take some of there fear out of it. That’s part of what photographer Sarah Sudhoff is trying to do with her work. Looking at her images of death stains above at the very least confronts you. And hopefully makes you stop for a moment and think. There can be beauty in all things, even death. It depends entirely on how you choose to look at it.
Death, like birth, is part of a process. However, the processes of death –- the events leading up to the end of life, the moment of one’s last breath, and the aftermath of death — are often shielded from view. Today in Western society most families leave to a complete stranger the responsibility of preparing a loved one’s body for its final resting place. Traditional mourning practices, which allowed for the creation of Victorian hair jewelry or other memento mori items, have fallen out of fashion. Now the stain of death is quickly removed, and the scene where a death occurs is cleaned and normalized. As Phillipe Aries writes, “Society no longer observes a pause; the disappearance of an individual no longer affects its continuity”. The modern means of dealing with death promises to shield mourners from the most graphic aspects of death, yet the emotional and psychological impact of such loss lingers long after any physical evidence of this process has been erased.
You can see/read more from her series At the Hour of Our Death here.
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Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2010