Saturday, April 12, 2008

We Are All Alone in the End?

& how should I warn you that you are about to look at photographs of dead people? The gallery at The Guardian does a much better job of exhibiting these images than the blog, & there, the photographer tells us how the project was approached despite a fear of dead people. The Guardian site also tells us that "In the hours after the pictures and article went online, the Guardian website experienced its busiest day ever traffic-wise, much of it driven by users keen to see the pictures and to read the interviews."
I have got to know these faces well and can't imagine the emotions associated with the act of taking the photographs, when the artist has also got to know the narrative of the subjects life. It makes me feel that we are all alone in the end, because like any strong emotional state, the knowledge that death is approaching is ours alone to own.

I like Eldegard's philosophy that she has had her life and now she has to give it back, like a gift that she had custody of, & now that time has come to an end.

Maria is lucky to have the faith she does, Elly expresses the fear I might have, that need to say that this is an emergency and I need to be saved.

Beate died as many do, so that their loved ones don’t see the go and they wait for the moment when nobody is in the room, I am always amazed at how that happens. How people can choose their time.

Rita and her ex-husband may have frittered away years of bitterness but they did what mattered in the end and how marvellous that both were able to.

I feel sad that Heiner didn’t have a friend who could sit and reflect with him, on what a colourful life his must have been, but also how sad it is that he was about to lose it.

Gerda is hard done by and I like her honesty, how dare she work that hard and then not have any freedom to play in her retirement.

Roswitha is probably who I am most like, just because most of the time I don’t feel happy, but I can imagine recognising the joys of like much more clearly when I am about to lose them. I spend every day trying to do a good job, trying to be a good person, and you wouldn’t know I wasn’t a happy person too look at me. There I hope I am most unlike Roswitha because I think her unhappiness is etched on her face.

I wish Peter could have talked, but that is only because talking is so important to me and maybe it wasn’t to him, I am glad he kept his football chart though.

Barbara’s story is just sad, how much rejection and loss she must have experienced, how hard she has worked to live well in spite of that, and to have those feelings overwhelm her in the end is harsh.

Klara is beautifully philosophical, and funny about the fridge-freezer, and lets hope we all this little afraid.

The exhibition can be viewed in full at the Wellcome Collection & you can read a series of essays about the end of life from different faith perspectives.


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