Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On dying visibly

I know I have a lot to say about listening, but life and death keep getting in the way. I have a post half written that I'll finish when I can. For now, though, there is this.

I wanted to bring a powerful article and photo display to your attention. Walter Schels is a photographer living in England. He has taken a series of photos of people in hospice care, recorded their stories with the assistance of his partner, and then took another photo after they died. This is all on display in a London gallery, but more immediately you can read an article about it here and see the photos here.

The entire exhibit is called Life Before Death and stands as a reminder that so many of us only begin to live when we know we're going to die. When I had cancer I lived with more immediacy and vibrancy than I had before. I celebrate my not-dead day (April 19th, for those of you who may be interested) to remind me that yes, I am alive. Yes, this is the only chance I get to live fully.

All that aside, these photos are beautiful. The stories are so human and stand as a testament to how alike we all are, how we all have the same needs - to be loved, cared for, to not die in utter isolation, to be remembered.

Take a look. It's not frightening but has a somber beauty, like the tolling of a bell.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer
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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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