Whenever a relative died when I was a child, we would gather around their body, sometimes laid out on a table, a coffin or slowly cooling under the bed sheets, and say five decades of the rosary for the repose of their soul. I attended at least half a dozen funerals before I was twelve: my father’s side of the family were descended from fertile Irish-Scottish Catholics. The dead always looked more peaceful before they were wheeled off to a funeral home, where make-up was applied, cheeks rouged and lipstick smoothed around mouth. These applications usually gave the deceased the appearance of an eerie ventriloquist’s doll, waiting to yap their mouths and roll their eyes. Death was just a common part of life. But now the relationship between the living and the dying and the dead has become once removed, with the undertakers and funeral homes taking control of those once natural rituals that connected us all together.
In Victorian times, it was common for grieving families to be photographed with the deceased. It was a way of commemorating the dead loved one. With high child mortality rates, most of these portraits were of parents and children. The images are often moving, even heartbreaking, and there are some that may seem bizarre to modern tastes.
Not everyone was happy about posing with a dead relative…The look on this girl’s face says it all.
King Ludwig of Bavaria never missed a photo opportunity.
Via Haunted Girl & io9