Funeral Photos

by admin on July 28, 2010

My Uncle Bubbles and his wife Candy have supplied us with a solid repertoire of E-Hell stories, but this one is my all-time favourite in terms of its sheer inappropriateness.

Uncle Bubbles fancies himself an amateur photographer, and he is able to afford a beautiful, professional grade camera through money he saved by never giving a nice gift to anyone, ever. But I digress. My dear grandfather, the family patriarch, passed away suddenly, and my rather large extended family was called home for the funeral proceedings. The aunts, uncles, and grandchildren all gathered at my grandma’s trailer to eat, drink and reminisce. And through our tears and laughter, Uncle Bubbles was there, behind his camera, taking pictures of us. Most of them were without our knowledge or consent.

I mentioned this to my mom, Uncle Bubble’s sister, who graciously suggested “This is his way of dealing with it.” So I left it alone.

The funeral was gut-wrenchingly sad. We had a bagpiper pipe his casket into the church, and to this day I can’t hear bagpipes without tears welling in my eyes. And that sad afternoon will be remembered forever, because my Uncle Bubbles stood at the altar during the entire service, taking pictures of the priest, the casket, and the congregation. I hope he noticed my evil death stare in at least three of them.

At the following Thanksgiving, Uncle Bubbles makes a long-winded toast that left my grandmother in tears, then announced that we are to help ourselves to the photo C.D.s he made of Grandpa’s funeral proceedings. At the end of the dinner, the stack remained untouched. I don’t know why he thought we would want to look at pictures of one of the saddest days of our lives, but he thinks differently than most.   0724-10

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

josie July 28, 2010 at 5:30 am

Toasting gr’pa before the meal (a short remembrance) is okay in my view, but a long toast and a commercial for the funeral pics is a sure fire way to kill the appetite and put a gloomy haze over the entire day.

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Princesssimmi July 28, 2010 at 5:32 am

Everyone has a different way of coping with death, however, any form of coping that involves taking photos if a deceased loved one in their casket astounds and disgusts me and should not be allowed. I would have dragged any family member of mine that tried something like that out of the church by the ear.

I can understand that if this was your uncles father that maybe he wasn’t quite right at the time, for example if he had stopped sleeping or eating he may not be thinking clearly. If he is still behaving this way months after the fact it may be time to lookat getting him some help.

Regarding the gift thing- some people are just natural cheapskates. You can see my Mum in regiftable gifts. They don’t change. They don’t want to change. Just remember that money and gifts aren’t everything, it’s knowing that they love you.

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Ang July 28, 2010 at 5:41 am

Ok, so uncle Bubbles took it a bit too far with the cd and ignoring peoples dislike of being photographed.
But to be honest, I have pictures of my fathers funeral too. And I don’t consider them as ‘pictures of one of the saddest days’ of my live. I cherish the memory of all the people involed that paid their tribute to him and the photo’s help me to remember.

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kate July 28, 2010 at 5:48 am

Tactful picture taking is part of the funeral culture where I come from, but the keyword is “tactful”! Those photos are usually used for family members of the deceased to see flower arrangements (which they are typically too distracted to appreciate during the funeral) and people in attendance who didn’t sign the condolence book. Uncle Bubbles definitely went too far though, both during the service and when he offered CDs with the pictures to the still grieving family members. I guess you can count yourself lucky he didn’t think of showing a slide show at Thanksgiving!

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Virg July 28, 2010 at 6:48 am

I’d have a whole lot more sympathy for the writer’s offense at the etiquette violations if he/she could keep the bias out of the story. Deciding that he doesn’t give valuable enough gifts? Saying that the day of her grandfather’s funeral will be remembered forever because Uncle Bubbles was taking pictures? I like the way she seems to blame Uncle Bubbles for reducing her grandmother to tears, when I suspect that the most wonderful speech ever given at a funeral would easily have had the same effect. I’m in her camp that Uncle Bubbles should not have taken pictures of people without their consent, but I have some difficulties getting past the writer’s own offenses.

Virg

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counselorm July 28, 2010 at 7:24 am

I understand that this subject is a very difficult one. I think it is best in such a situation to ask people in advance before proceeding to photograph such a sensitive moment. I will say, though, that after burying both my parents, I desperately wish we had audio-taped the events. I know some very wonderful things were said but I don’t remember most of them (including what I said) because of the pain. Now, on anniversaries, it would be great if I could remember the day and by playing the tapes. Also, my aunt took pictures at the reception after my father’s funeral. At the time, it bothered me but now I am happy to have the pictures of my family.

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Jillybean July 28, 2010 at 8:31 am

My family needs an uncle bubbles. Oftentimes funerals are the only places we all gather and we often lament that we wished someone had a camera at these events. But then, despite the sadness, my family typically views funerals as a celebration of life.

And I agree with Virg. Not sure what uncle bubbles’ gift giving, or lack there of, has to do with this story. Guess it was just the OPs way of making sure we all knew she didn’t like him.

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Lizajane July 28, 2010 at 8:57 am

Virg,

Yup.

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Laura July 28, 2010 at 9:03 am

I agree with Virg and Jillybean. I’m sorry that someone took pictures of the funeral of his own relative and offended other relatives, but how is it anyone’s concern how the man spends his money?

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LovleAnjel July 28, 2010 at 9:25 am

I understand the OP became offended at Uncle Bubble’s actions. However, what he did is not a universal faux pas. There are traditions not only of photographing funerals, but of photographing the deceased. This stems from a time when photography was rare, and the funeral may have been the only time a portrait of the person was taken (especially true for children & infants). My family continues the tradition today, and also photographs the attending family since we rarely all get together anymore. Some important points– everyone knows it’s going on, can demure from being photographed if they wish, and no photography takes place during the service (only the wake and feast). The photos are available for anyone who wants a copy, and oftentimes my dad & uncle will make CDs for distribution.

I think it was a little gauche to take pictures during the the ceremony, but unless he was charging or actually advertising his services as a photographer, making the CDs for the family was not itself in bad taste, and in fact was a nice thing to do. His gift-giving practices have absolutely no bearing on his actions that day and seem to have been mentioned out of spite.

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Carol July 28, 2010 at 9:50 am

I personally hate the idea of pictures at a funeral, but for many people it is a common and acceptable practice. Pictures were taken at both of my grandparents’ funerals, and while I refused to look at the photos, some people really took comfort in looking at them later. Maybe it was a little insensitive to assume that everyone would want to see his photos, but perhaps Uncle Bubbles just didn’t realize that other people had different feelings . It isn’t as if he forced the photos on anyone….guess I’m not seeing the huge etiquette misstep here.

I agree with Virg, the writer seems so biased against Uncle Bubbles, its hard not to imagine that the OP would find fault with anything poor Uncle Bubbles does.

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melissa July 28, 2010 at 9:50 am

I also agree wit virg on the gift thing. What is considered a “good gift”? Isn’t that a breach of etiquette it self?

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sabowin July 28, 2010 at 10:15 am

Is it possible there was a family member who WANTED the photos taken? When my grandfather passed away this past winter, my grandmother wanted photos. My uncle and I obliged her, taking photos of relatives, the flowers and photos that were placed near his casket in the “visiting room,” and even his body in repose in the casket. The next day, my uncle took photos at the graveside burial service (I was sitting next to my grandmother, holding her hand).

It seemed odd to me, but it comforted her, so I took photos and later e-mailed them to her for her to do as she wished with them. I did not, however, burn CDs and encourage all the relatives to take one. It was a private thing, done for my grandmother, not to show off my (questionable) skills as a photographer or provide documentation to the entire clan.

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Elizabeth July 28, 2010 at 10:32 am

I almost feel sorry for Uncle Bubbles. Maybe, as others have said, he didn’t realize the pictures were upsetting anyone. Did anyone politely tell him to tone it down? And worse, he could have genuinely thought other family members would want copies of the pictures and is now greatly hurt because no one bothered to point out that everyone else felt it tacky.

Funerals are unfortunately a touchy subject and probably one of the few things that differs greatly between families and events. My grandfather, our patriarch, dies and it is extremely sad but we cope a little with humor. My grandmother passes and it was much more of a distant family reunion that our church family graciously hosted. An Uncle passed (who was the family minister) and one of his step children insisted their youngest be christened after the funeral. (Side note: This was very unplanned. If he couldn’t have his stepdad preform it, he wanted my uncle’s best friend who was only in town for the funeral. And it was nice that everyone was already there.) The oddest was when another uncle died. His friends were from a more drunken fun kind of crowd. They held a party at a local sports bar after the funeral and insisted the whole family be there. At first I found that to be tacky, but once there it was nice to see such a celebration of life. I guess, my point just goes back to all funerals are people’s expectation are different.

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Margaret July 28, 2010 at 10:51 am

One side of my family always takes pictures at funerals. You gather up the family behind the casket and take a picture. Many pictures, in fact. They did that at my dad’s funeral. And you know, I actually wish I had one of those pictures now. The other side of my family doesn’t take many pictures, but when one of my cousins died tragically and young, the parents videotaped the funeral. I don’t know if they have ever watched the video, but I suspect that they were desperately trying to hang onto any piece of my cousin that they could, and the funeral was, after all, the last milestone event of her life. So actually, although the Uncle seems to have taken it to extremes and wasn’t sensitive to how the others felt, it seems to me that he was genuinely trying to do something nice for the family. Think of the time and expense he had to have put into having the photo CDs made.

To be honest, I thought the story was leading up to the uncle asking to be paid for being the photographer or handing out the CDs and then asking to be paid for them.

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Xtina July 28, 2010 at 11:09 am

I guess the jury’s still out on photos at funerals. I personally don’t really care to have pictures of the deceased lying in the casket, although I suppose having photos of attendees or flowers would be nice to have. As others have said, that is often the only time the whole family may get together. A bit morbid for photo ops perhaps, but a fact of life. My own family will sometimes take photos of the gravesite and the church, or even the (closed) casket covered in flowers. It probably would have been in better taste for Uncle Bubbles to let people know that he had photos available if anyone wanted them; I think it was a bit presumptuous and upsetting to some to make a big show of the stack of pre-made CDs as if he was selling them.

In the old days, people often took formal photos of the deceased, and if you’ve ever seen these, it’s sort of disturbing as the deceased are propped up and posed as if they are alive. I wouldn’t want any photos of my dead friends or relatives like that.

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A July 28, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I agree with the OP’s mom in saying that this is just how Uncle Bubbles was coping. Some cultures/families do take pictures at funerals. I found this out when I worked in a photo lab one summer and came across some pictures from one of those funerals. My family doesn’t do it, but we do have family photos in front of loved ones’ graves.

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Ponytail July 28, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I feel for the OP. The same thing happened at my mother’s cremation. My aunt’s husband started taking pictures as soon as the wreaths arrived at my step-father’s house and about 250 clicks of the camera later, he was done. Everyone stepping into the cars, the carrying of the coffin into the chapel, the priest’s eulogy, the movement of my mum’s coffin into, well, you know. All ‘lovingly’ photographed.
At one point my step-father said he though the uncle was going to be thrown out, and luckily he stopped by the wake. However, we’ve never found out why he took the photos. It’s not a tradition in the UK and not in my uncle’s culture either. Plus, one of my aunts wasn’t able to come, and I assumed this uncle would show her the pictures. Nope, four years later, he’s never shown anyone the photographs. I have no idea what he’s done with them.

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kingsrings July 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm

In some cultures, this is perfectly normal and acceptable behavior. When I was young, one of my friends drowned. His mother was an immigrant from Colombia. Imagine my mother’s shock when she saw that his mother had put together a scrapbook of photos from the funeral proceedings, including the casket with his body in it and everything. But his mother explained that this was part of their culture.

I don’t see anything wrong with taking photos at a funeral in some areas of the proceedings. For many, it’s a rare opportunity to get together with family and friends they don’t see often. Taking a group photo after the service for instance seems perfectly normal and something I’ve been a part of. But taking photos of people’s grief and tears, and doing it frequently as this guy was doing, just seems weird and inappropriate.

I don’t see anything wrong with taking video of a memorial service where people are giving speeches about the deceased, for the reasons already stated by others on this thread.

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Jayne July 28, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I honestly do not know what the OP’s problem is. What does his camera, which OP’s states is coming at the expense of what she thinks should be appropriate gifts to family members, have to do with anything? Her own mother isn’t even upset about the photos. It sounds like what is really upsetting the OP is that uncle’s money isn’t spread around to her liking.

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Keri July 28, 2010 at 4:12 pm

I understand that everyone processes grief differently but the whole concept of photo taking at a funeral bothers me. When my Grandmother passed away we had many family in England who flew here (Canada) to be at the service, but there were many who could not fly here due to illness etc. While we were having our last private family viewing minutes prior to the actual service one of my extended family members from England decided to hustle her kids up to the open casket and force them to pose for family pictures, taking care to make sure my Grandmother appeared in the pictures. I was shocked but as you yourself heard, I was told that everyone processes their grief differently. To this day the concept still boggles me.

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Simone July 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

When people are grieving they do some pretty wacky things. I remember in my late teens running into a girl that I’d had a slight friendship with when I was about ten. I hadn’t seen her for a good 5 years and we just happened to be on the same train station at the same time.

She then filled me in on how she’d fallen pregnant at 17 (not long before) but the baby was born early and sadly died. Then proceeded to show me photos of the funeral and her and the father cradling the (deceased) baby. At the time I was very young and naive and this HORRIFIED me. However being raised by a polite mother I didn’t let this show (I hope) and tried to find appropriate things to say that wouldn’t hurt her.

Many years later, having had my own babies and lived a little more, I came to understand how someone might just need to hang on to whatever they can. I am truly grateful that the good manners my mother taught me saved me from adding to that poor girl’s pain by showing her what I was feeling at the time.

Uncle Bubbles is clearly not to the taste of the OP in general, so it is not really surprising that his behaviour in grief is not to her taste either.

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Izzlebun July 28, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I really don’t see the etiquette breach. Is the OP upset that the Uncle wasn’t as outwardly upset as everyone else? I could see that it would be offensive if he were in some interrupting the proceedings, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I do agree that pictures of the deceased are a bit weird and morbid, but the OP states that the pictures were of everything in the ceremony, including the casket. They don’t mention whether it was open casket or not. I think this is one of those stories where the OP was grievously offended, and chose to project that sense of indignity onto the other relatives.

I believe that funerals are a celebration of the living too–of relatives and loved ones and their cherished memories of the deceased. At every family event that I’ve been to, reunions, weddings, even funerals, plenty of people are taking pictures. I personally would not have minded a cd of pictures of my relatives, even if bittersweet.

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Threepenny July 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm

The OP lost my attention when she commented that her uncle could only afford an expensive camera by not buying others expensive gifts.. I was more disgusted by the OP than her uncle’s behavior.

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mommaknowsbest July 28, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Again, you folks are slaughtering the OP, which in itself is a breach of etiquette. Anyone is allowed to be disgusted at anythig they want to be without all of you telling them off. This site would be a lot more fun if some of you backed off a little.

That said, funeral pictures are very common. And a toast at Thanksgiving to a departed relative is nice.

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Me July 28, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I actually feel really sorry for the uncle. Regardless of whether or not you think it’s tacky to take photos at a funeral, it’s not like he was doing it out of spite or malice; he obviously thought he was doing his family a favour and I personally wouldn’t object to receiving some photos of my extended family. If the family was really that upset by his actions, a simple, “Hey, Uncle B, put the camera down please, that’s not appropriate,” would have sufficed.

And yes, the OP lost me also when she made the comment about how Uncle B could afford his camera. I read that as, “Uncle Bubbles would rather save his money and buy himself good quality equipment for his hobby than buy me expensive presents.”

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Margaret July 28, 2010 at 11:46 pm

The first time I remember having my picture taken at a funeral would have been when I was 6 or 7. A great uncle or distant cousin or something like that had died, and so all the kids were posed around the casket for the pictures. I really had no clue, and since it was a picture, I smiled (it wasn’t a relative that I knew particularly well, so I wasn’t bothered by his death). I bet I was the only one smiling in the pictures.

My husband’s brother died earlier this year. His family (his parents, their children and their grandchildren) are rarely together. In fact, I don’t remember any other time that everyone was present at the same event, and I’ve been married for over ten years. They do a wake for 2 or 3 days before the actual funeral (that freaks me out way more than taking pictures of the deceased, but whatever). Anyway, since they were all there, after the actual funeral service, they got together for a family picture of MIL/FIL and all the descendents. Except my oldest son (then 6 years old), had gone to the bathroom. So I told my husband where he was and went to get him. He’s a little kid, so it took him 2 or 3 minutes to come out. I told him to hurry into the hall because they were doing a family picture. He was almost up to the group, when they broke up. I don’t know if my son will ever care, but I was pretty ticked off. Either my husband couldn’t be bothered to let them know that HIS CHILD was not there yet (which is what I suspect), or they couldn’t be bothered to wait. I assumed the whole point of the picture was to have the entire family in it, since the sons & daughters in law were left out.

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Snookums August 1, 2014 at 11:26 am

This seems tasteless to me. In my family, the point of a funeral is to mourn the deceased, not an opportunity to take a fun family photo.

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Lynne July 29, 2010 at 1:14 am

When my great-aunt passed away, I was living in another country, and did not attend the funeral/burial.

Later, I was grateful to be able to see photos that had been taken.

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Bint July 29, 2010 at 6:38 am

I see the etiquette breach – Uncle Bubbles took pictures of people grieving without their consent. That’s intrusive and rude. I don’t expect to have my picture taken at a funeral anyway, but to do it without asking when I’m mourning someone is just disgusting. If you want pictures, fair enough, but you don’t take them of other mourners before you’ve got their permission, family or not.

Other than that, I agree the OP went a bit OTT and right off topic with how he spends his money.

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Giles July 29, 2010 at 7:22 am

As a doctor, I see a lot of death, and I also see people dealing with it in different ways. While I think taking pictures of dead people is a little too morbid for my taste, I also know that specially arranged photo sessions parents can have with their stillborn infants go a long way to starting the healing process.

However, Uncle Bubbles ought to have asked people if they wanted their pictures taken and if they were okay with it. And this doesn’t just apply to funerals; I do a little photography myself but I hate shutter-bugs who bring a huge camera everywhere and assume you’re alright with a flash going off in your face every five seconds. I can’t imagine how hard this would be to deal with at a funeral for a loved one.

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TheBardess July 29, 2010 at 9:05 am

@mommaknowsbest- when you submit a story to this site, ANY faux pas it contains is up for discussion. Even if the faux pas is yours (and yes, I would say the whole “He bought a camera instead of buying presents for MEEEEEEE!” attitude of the OP is a faux pas). Overall, the OP has a very unpleasant attitude throughout this story, and it’s just as acceptable to comment on that as it is to comment on Uncle Bubbles’ behavior.

And no one is saying the OP can’t be upset by her uncle taking photos- they’re just explaining why it doesn’t seem like a big deal to them or providing reasons as to why someone would do it. Offering other perspectives on something isn’t an etiquette violation.

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Elizabeth Bunting July 29, 2010 at 11:24 am

I was somewhat annoyed by the fact that Uncle Bubbles had to take pictures of the priest and the casket at the altar during the service. It would have been a distraction from the service and the priest’s message to have somebody taking photographs. Couldn’t he have done it from some less prominent place in the church???

I think Uncle Bubbles’ conduct was somewhat gratuitous. He seems, by the description of his neice, a rather loud, extroverted person who does inappropriate things without regard for the feelings of others. Whether he buys cheap gifts or no gifts is beside the point. The family just doesn’t like him because of his conduct.

Just my thoughts,

Elizabeth

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Miss Marie July 29, 2010 at 12:58 pm

In some parts of the country, it is tradition to take pictures of the body at the viewing and funeral. Maybe this is what Uncle Bubbles grew up with and was just following tradition?

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lkb July 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I can see both sides of this matter. While ordinarily I would not like pictures at a funeral, several years ago, some friends of mine were in a car wreck — the husband died at the scene the woman was hospitalized with severe injuries. She was able to come to the funeral home in a hospital bed to bring some closure but she was in surgery the day of the funeral Mass. A friend videotaped the proceedings for her (I don’t know if it was at her request or not), but it was done fairly unobtrusively and I believe everyone there understood why. Whether she actually watched later, I don’t know but it’s nice to know it was there if and when she was ready.
No, probably Uncle Bubbles should not have taken pictures of mourners without permission, but he may have had his reasons — genealogy, other relatives who could not attend for whatever reason, or even the realization that the loved ones may never be together again like this. If someone was radically offended or if there was a part of the story that wasn’t told here, someone could have politely asked him to refrain.
Funerals are emotional times, in good ways and bad. At those times, just give the other guy a pass.

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Hellbound Alleee August 1, 2010 at 10:06 am

Funereal photography was considered standard in Victorian culture. In those days, the family had ultimate control and responsibility over burying their loved ones. Funeral Parlours were just existing at that time.

Nowadays, we have become so ultra-sensitized to death than many of us cannot look at our dead dearly departed. The Industry removes the Dearly Departed almost immediately upon death, and many never see them again, even at the funeral. “Viewings” are considered ghoulish to some non-Catholics in American culture. When we look back on funereal photography in Victorian days, we are often shocked, appalled, and disgusted at what a Victorian person would have considered a loving tribute to be cherished.

One would do well to withhold judgment on persons who take pictures at funerals. Their motives are not one’s projections on them. If one needs to know why, ask the family member before assuming they are crass and unfeeling.

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Heather August 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm

This once happened at a cousins’ funeral. Her son showed up before the funeral was to start and took pictures of her in the coffin. Then he handed the camera to someone else and had them take pictures of him posing with the coffin. I like to think that his grief had unhinged his mind and he didn’t know what he was doing.

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Lisa August 6, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I took video of my mother’s funeral because her siblings were not able to attend as we lived half way across the U.S. from all of them. This was a way to include them. I mailed the videos and each sent a thank you note for allow them to see the funeral.

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ShannonDs August 10, 2010 at 11:35 am

When I die I would like a photo of me taken in my casket if I am fit to be presented. I would also like photos of the funeral. Of course I will never see them, but somehow I think it adds to the life I lived. Photo documentation of me from my first moments of life through to saying goodbye.

Ever notice that NO ONE thinks a thing of famous or historic figures having had funeral photos taken? I can even point out wax images made of impressions taken of the particularly famous person. I see no reason why ordinary people shouldn’t have photos from their funerals taken too.

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gramma dishes August 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm

ShannonDs ~~ You know, I never thought of it that way! You have provided an interesting new perspective on the issue.

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Deborah August 13, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Sometimes there can be good reason to photograph a funeral – though not as obtrusively as this appears to have been.
My grandmother died a few months ago, and several of her nine children, 48 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren (not to mention a multitude of inlaws, friends and acquaintences) were unable to attend, for a variety of reasons. One of her grandsons-in-law took a few photos, and videotaped the eulogy and speaches – these were then posted on a private website for download. No one was offended (at least that I heard) and many of those who could not attend did view the pictures and recording, and valued them greatly.
Ettiquette is not fixed. What is ‘correct’ can and should be varied with the circumstances and feelings of those involved. If the spouse and children (presumably those closest to the deceased) are in agreement that they would like photos, or a video, to be taken, then that should be what matters. If they find it offensive, then it shouldn’t happen, and one of them, or a deputy or whoever was coordinating the event, should have taken uncle bubbles asside, and quietly relieved him of his camera.

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Allison December 2, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Pictures being forced on others. This reminds me of a close friend’s death in 2008 of complications related to terminal cancer. My husband and I flew from the east coast to the west coast to say good bye. Another close friend, “Tess,” was unable to accompany us due to the responsibilities of two small children and the cost associated with the trip; she was upset to not be there to see him and talk with him, but admitted the thought of seeing him in this way was absolutely paralyzing to her at the same time. We returned home and “Tom” died four days later. Tom’s girlfriend “Jen” sent Tess an email several days later, ‘he is sleeping but the same Tom,’ she says and attaches a photo of Tom immediately after his death while still in the hospital bed. Tess calls me in hysterics, I can barely get her to tell me ‘emailed photo’ as she cries and hyperventilates. I barely understand that Jen sent her an email. I ask Tess to forward it to me. I open it and stare. If Jen wanted such a picture that is certainly her own business but it was not up to her to choose to send it to others. Tess is, to this day, is heartbroken to have seen Tom in this way and would have much preferred her own memories of their close friendship. Jen decided for her what she was going to remember, it seems.

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Allison December 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm

A comment on photos of people in caskets. My husband is a funeral director, 30+ years in the business. He has had TWO requests for photos: one was a family with a large contingent in the Middle East and they wanted a photo to share with those who were unable to attend; they felt their mother’s appearance was comforting and calming (I can only hope that those who received it, ASKED for it). The second request was a single family member who asked that the photo be taken after all services and immediately before the casket was closed. In neither situation was some self-appointed photographer running around snapping photos of the decedent and attendees.

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Sharon December 2, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Every year my uncle sends us a calenday for the new year from Arizona Highways for Christmas. Imagine my horror when I opened the envelope and 2 photos of my grandmother in her coffin fell out along with the calendar!
It make me physically sick. I got on the phone right away to my dad so that he could intercept the arrival of the calenday my uncle sent to them. My mother has been dealing with many serious mental issues and I knew this would set her back.

My uncle is not an ignorant person. He is a person who would never do anything that would hurt anyone. But, this was just the WORST.

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Me January 8, 2011 at 7:14 am

I was immediately turned off by the writer’s bitter reference to the value of her Uncle’s camera combined with the accusation that he’s never given anyone a “nice gift.” Does that mean his gifts weren’t nice? Weren’t appreciated? Is there some reason that she is “owed” a nice gift, let alone a gift at all? That immediately put on team Bubbles. I’m glad I’m not the only one who was appalled at this sense of entitlement and jealousy

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OP April 10, 2011 at 3:40 pm

OP here,

Here’s some clarification for you regarding my uncle Bubbles, to help put this in a better context. I realize now that I was rather vague.

Uncle Bubbles, by definition, is stingy. He takes much more than he gives. When I say he didn’t give nice gifts, I am not being petty or childish or spoiled. Some of items my siblings and I have received from him and his family were: homemade pillows made of two old change table pads stuffed with pantyhose, underwear out of a package that appeared to be used, or at least washed more than once, and a dollar-store variety barbie doll. Imagine you are six years old opening that up, and you can see where the bitterness comes in. So, after many of us being on the receiving end of such thoughtless gifts, seeing him with his mega camera ruffles many family feathers.

As for the funeral pictures- the issue many of us had was with the unsolicited pictures of the congregation during the service. He was in front of the altar, facing the mourners, and snapping away. The bulk of them weren’t posed pictures taken with permission, they were candids of us bawling and sobbing. It is very unsettling to have your picture taken, without consent, during a very vulnerable moment.

So I admit I came across as materialistic with the “nice gift” comment. You have to know him and his complete lack of consideration to see where I’m coming from. As for the funeral photos, it’s not so much the locale as the lack of permission. If you’ve ever had someone snap you unawares you can understand why I got my back up.

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CELESTE June 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I have to say that to an exstent I agree. A Very close friend of mine just passed away. He was very well loved and his funeral was the most well attended I have ever seen. I have no objection to some of the photos taken after at the wake. Or even of the flowers etc. In the church. But this one woman was taking pictures all day long. OF EVERYTHING. During the ceremony etc. (she even caught the open casket in the background. What bothered me is that very night she had the whole mass of them up on Facebook including many shots of people in the throws of grief (including myself) I have never felt more naked in my life! Now the pall bearers and a few of the closer friends who were involved in the ceremony (inclusing myself) had agreed to some groups shots right after the funeral and I was fine with those, I held in my tears for those. They were still sad but honorable. But how dare she post painful images of people without thier consent!

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Katje May 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Personally, I think funeral photos are ridiculously distasteful. Sorry but who would want to look at photos of such a sad time or even of the deceased’s casket (open or not)?!

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my goodness June 29, 2012 at 9:20 am

What about all the funerals broadcasted on tv for the famous and the photographs of them published? Personally, I like to take pictures of my loved ones still alive and a funeral is a good place to have them all together. A lot of people take pictures of their deceased. I do and I don’t see anything wrong or disrespectful about it. I think those that think I am doing wrong are wrong for trying to make me feel badly about it.

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Madeline January 12, 2013 at 11:58 am

Of course he thinks differently than most (it’s your world). I’m sorry to be so blunt but you are uptight and seem like a real bummer to be around. Uncle Bubbles’ name must reflect his personality. Is your name Miss Pessimist? He is obviously the only optimist in the group. He spent his time taking pictures of YOU and YOUR FAMILY and wanted to give YOU a gift and what he considered a celebration of your grandfather’s life. Do you really think it was a malicious act on his part? Composing a CD of the photos of (again…) YOU, must have take days if not weeks to make. It was a GIFT and you so rudely snubbed him.

True optimists think of funerals/memorial as a way to CELEBRATE the deceased’s life but also the lives of the loved one’s survivors.

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to change your opinion or personality. I know your type and I know you are infuriated right now as you read this.

But why put down Uncle Bubbles for being an optimist? But I guess that IS the job of the pessimist, right?

Tell Uncle Bubbles he can join my family anyway. Shoot me an email. I love photography and anyone nicknamed Bubbles.

P.S. I have family like you. You get your thrills making people feel bad about themselves. Get another hobby. Or you can just sit in your house and stew about what a horribly wrong person I am. Really I’m not, I just tell it like it is, sister.

Oh and obviously you are angry that he never shared any of his money with you. Why should Uncle Bubbles be spending what little of the money he has on you? You sound like an angry, spoiled brat.

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NostalgicGal September 2, 2013 at 1:14 am

Much later and I found this…

My DH’s side was and still is a ‘take pictures at funerals including the deceased’ and my side is ‘take pictures of the flowers’ (and if the deceased ends up in the shot the picture is destroyed as well as negative or deleted).

I am at my MIL/FIL’s for first real holiday after we were married, she got out tons of albums and we get to one full of deceased pictures and I realize what this is. I put a hand over the top picture (each page has little overlapping flaps to put more pictures per page) and look at her and explain, that my family preferred to remember the living person and we would destroy photos showing the deceased. Yes taking pictures of the arrangements were okay but we would position someone and an elbow if needed. And afterwards we would go through photo collections and make copies of the best ones and make a rememberance album. She looked a little upset but put that half an album away, and two others. When family passed on on his side, they made sure he got his ‘photo’ but they put it in a sealed envelope for my sake.

Camera envy and stinginess notwithstanding, what Uncle Bubbles did apparently didn’t go over well with the family. I think that the fact that nobody wanted the CD’s got it across. The point is, if the situation came up again, did he do a repeat?

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