A Question of Appropriateness

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 06, 2007 12:29 AM GMT
    My grandfather died last week. I was not able to go to his funeral in Dallas because I am up to my knees in final exam preparations. But over the weekend, I did go out to dinner with Mom. After our drinks came out, she handed her cell phone to me, and said she had a picture of Grandpa for me. I looked at it to find a picture of my grandfather in his open casket.

    I was shocked, pushed her phone back to her, and asked her what she was thinking.

    Is this sort of thing appropriate? Taking a picture of a dead man with your camera phone?

    Opinions needed and appreciated.

    x
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Dec 06, 2007 12:51 AM GMT
    It used to be quite common for photos to be taken of the deceased in that manner, laid out in the coffin.

    I'm sure she just wanted you to see him before he was laid to rest, either that or it was some form of bizarre maternal punishment.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16305

    Dec 06, 2007 12:56 AM GMT
    It wasn't appropriate and I would have been shocked. My father and I have always had conversation about open caskets and how "we would not" have that for him when it comes his time.

    It she had showed you a picture of his interment or a picture of the funeral or the family...sure, but to see your grandfather dead (while in a place where you were not thinking initally about his death)...NO.
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    Dec 06, 2007 3:26 AM GMT
    well, some people need to "see" it to have a closure. I guess she feel you might need one. at least she waited till you finished the meal.
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    Dec 06, 2007 4:40 AM GMT
    Taking pictures of the dead used to be commonplace. There's a remarkable book, "The Harlem Book of the Dead," that contains such pictures. The dead, particularly infants, were often photographed and the image was glazed onto a memorial plaque. I have a few of those.

    Not only did people used to take a lot of pictures, they also used to pose the body strangely. I remember when my ex-wife's grandfather died, we went to the funeral home and walked into the wrong room. A man was sitting on the edge of a table with a cigarette between two fingers. It was a few seconds before we realized he was a corpse.

    It's odd that your mother didn't warn you of what you were about to see, but it's truly not unusual to take pictures, especially in the South.





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    Dec 06, 2007 4:42 AM GMT
    Her father died and was buried just a couple days ago?

    Who gives a damn if it was appropriate?

    She was greiving, and probably not thinking 'normally' no matter how 'put together' she got for your little dinner.

    Think how upset you would be to loose her or your father.

    Do you think she would have done that at another time if she weren't incredibly stressed? Has she acted wildly inappropriate before in your experience?

    Give the poor woman a pass and my deepest sympathies.

    R
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    Dec 06, 2007 4:44 AM GMT
    What was her tone? Do you think she was chastising you for not going to the funeral? Like...you didnt care enough to come to the funeral, so why would you expect more than a phone-photo. Surely, you wont be offended, you don't care that much.
  • Alan95823

    Posts: 306

    Dec 06, 2007 4:51 AM GMT
    I'm thinking that she's coming from a place of grief, and put herself in your shoes - want to go to the funeral and say goodbye, but unable to, so maybe she thought showing you the picture was the next best thing? She could have thought she was helping you deal with your grief, so your rebuff may have hurt her.

    I'd follow-up with her and make sure she's ok, letting her know that you reacted the way you did out of surprise since you weren't expecting that.

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    Dec 06, 2007 5:10 AM GMT
    Not knowing the background details, I would tend to agree with ITJock. People tend to be less rational when grieving. Your shock and surprise are quite understandable, but I think that the situation calls for an extra measure of grace and compassion.
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    Dec 06, 2007 5:23 AM GMT
    Actually I think that's awesome, or at least a great idea -- I mean we usually spend big bucks making them look nice for when they are in the coffin so why not take a picture of them looking their best at the send off? And true historically people have taken pictures, or in the distant past certainly made images -- think the death masks, shrouds and such. So is it really unnatural to take a picture, or make an image, of the dead?

    Honestly we see much more compromising pictures of the dead on TV all the time, and not just in the movies. I think what makes the difference to you is that he is your relative. I mean really what is worse to take the picture, and show it, of someone laying in their coffin than of a mutilated body on the evening news? And those mutilated bodies are the relatives of someone even if it is not your relative.
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    Dec 06, 2007 5:26 AM GMT
    As long as the picture wasn't accompanied by a humorous caption. That's not appropriate until the mourning period ends.
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    Dec 06, 2007 5:47 AM GMT
    I agree with some of the comments suggesting your mom was just dealing with her father's death in her own way. When my dad died suddenly last year we all went into a Twilight Zone autopilot mode. Most events from June and July of 2006 are still a blur in my mind, and I know I did a few things that might seem bizarre. Like telling Mom to not disconnect Dad's business phone line until I had a chance to record the voice in his voicemail greeting. (I called his phone number and stuck a microphone to a telephone handset.) Or wearing one of Dad's suits to the funeral. (Why not? It fit perfectly and somehow connected me with him.) Or making a CD of songs that had been playing at the house during the last few days of his life, and then sending those CDs to my mom, sisters, aunt and uncle. (Why the hell would I create a CD that makes me get choked up every time I play it?) I guess I did those things to cope in my own weird way. It was a surreal time period and I still have difficulty wrapping my head around the fact that he really is gone.
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    Dec 06, 2007 7:27 AM GMT
    This is great, yall, thanks for the different takes.

    ITJock made a good point. I am reacting rather selfishly now, not taking into account that she DID just lose her dad. I had not thought about how she must be feeling now.

    I'm gonna have a nice talk with her. Maybe over another dinner.

    x
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    Dec 06, 2007 7:28 AM GMT
    And, I had been leaning towards the 'bizzare maternal punishment' idea.

    x
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    Dec 06, 2007 8:24 AM GMT
    I'm originally from NC, and it does seem to be a tradition of sorts in the South to take pictures of loved ones in their coffins. Its not a tradition I ever really understood or cared for... but I expect it, as my mom has photos of her mom, dad, best friend, my dad, mom's oldest brother and who knows how many other family members or close family friends all laid out at the funeral home.

    Personally, I've always found it morbid and strange... but I've also always allowed her the dignity of being sympathetic and have at least tried to be interested for her sake... just because it seemed important to her and it felt like the right thing for me to do, regardless of my feelings on the subject.

    I do understand your shock and subsequent reaction as you were not expecting to see that... but I think maybe you need a "do over"...

    ITJock made a good point... its probably part of her way of grieving, and it should be met with an extra measure of grace and compassion. If you think about it, the "closure" aspect makes sense... it is, after all, the last picture she'll ever have of her dad...

    Call your mom... I think that dinner sounds like a great idea. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Dec 06, 2007 8:45 AM GMT
    I agree with Timberoo, but to do that to you like that. Makes me shiver.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16305

    Dec 06, 2007 12:47 PM GMT
    I still hold with what I originally stated above.

    I do agree it depends on how (manner) it was originally done, but for me dinner wouldn't have been the time. I do believe compassion always needs to be te case when a family member passes, so I'm assuming she was reacting and wasn't some ploy there.

    Unless it was approached the right way, I just would have been shocked.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11648

    Dec 07, 2007 3:15 AM GMT
    I think your Mom is disappointed in you that you didn't make the time to go to your grandfather's funeral
    did you ask your mother why she showed you that picture or did you leave it at that?
    I think you should sit down with your mom and explain why you weren't there and even if it was the right decision not to go...apologize that you weren't there with her