Photographer Describes the Beautiful Experience of Dressing and Photographing Deceased Grandfather

December 4, 2014
2 Comments
Advertisement

My grandfather died in the spring of 2014. It didn’t come as a surprise to anyone. During the last two years he didn’t respond a lot; he wasn’t present. I don’t know if he thought about dying, whether he was expecting it or afraid of it. I don’t think so. He was 87 years old.

My sister and I helped the mortician prepare him for his coffin. We dressed him into his best suit, combed his hair—it felt like a last favor for him. Maybe I was trying to compensate for the fact I didn’t visit him enough. My conscience isn’t clear when it comes to that.

My grandfather and I weren’t that close because he and my grandmother lived far away from the town where I grew up. It was only after his condition started to deteriorate that I made any effort to visit them more often and those visits were not easy; my grandfather had lost his hearing and my grandmother had lost her short-term memory. She would ask the same questions again and again and he would sit at the table and smile, not knowing what we were talking about. At least he seemed pleased that he still recognized me.

Advertisement

When I was a kid, I had my reservations about him. He seemed very strict so I kept a certain distance. He wasn’t mean or anything—he just didn’t want us to fool around and wreak havoc like children often do. Now I understand that that was just his way of trying to raise and teach us how to be proper humans.

Most people in Finland—where I am from—don’t know that you can dress the deceased. And if they did they probably wouldn’t do it. Death is still a taboo over here. You are not supposed to talk about it, let alone photograph it. I don’t know why this is. Maybe we don’t want to be reminded of our mortality.

Preparing my grandfather for his coffin was a beautiful experience. Time seemed to come to a halt. All my memories of him felt stronger, more concrete. I had photographed him on many occasions and he always had this amazing presence. This was our last shoot together—although, in some sense, he was no longer there. Merely a shell was left. I spent a few minutes taking photographs, then I closed the coffin. That was that. The last time I saw my grandfather.

Looking at the pictures now takes me back to the moment of seeing him in the coffin. In the pictures he seems to be at ease. And there still is that sense of presence. In some way I feel a lot closer to him now than I ever did before.

These photos are from the series To Bury a Father by​ K​immo Metsäranta

[H/T:  Vice]

CDFuneralNews

CDFuneralNews

ConnectingDirectors.com is the leading online daily publication for funeral professionals with a reader base of over 45,000 of the most elite and forward-thinking professionals in the profession. With ConnectingDirectors.com we have created a global community through an online platform allowing funeral professionals to Stay Current. Stay Informed and Stay Elite.
CDFuneralNews
Advertisement

You may be interested

2 Business Visionaries Explain How to Sell Memorial Products
Cremation
6 views
Cremation
6 views

2 Business Visionaries Explain How to Sell Memorial Products

Justin Crowe - September 18, 2017

Last week, I got an unbelievable opportunity to speak with two modern business thought leaders about selling memorial products -…

Homesteaders: A Deep Dive | FUNERAL hustle 012
FUNERAL Hustle
335 views
FUNERAL Hustle
335 views

Homesteaders: A Deep Dive | FUNERAL hustle 012

CDFuneralNews - September 14, 2017

Ryan heads to Homesteaders Life Company HQ to discuss their future partnership with Homesteaders and why and how this partnership…

FrontRunner Professional Announces Ultimate ‘DIY’ Funeral Home Website Platform
Funeral Industry Press Releases
135 views
Funeral Industry Press Releases
135 views

FrontRunner Professional Announces Ultimate ‘DIY’ Funeral Home Website Platform

CDFuneralNews - September 14, 2017

Today FrontRunner Professional announced the release of it’s brand new website platform, marking a major change for the entire death…

Comments