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  1. #1
    ...just believe natatbeach's Avatar
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    sad news and some thoughts...

    After a very painful and aggressive attack on her body by cancer--- my mom passed away two days ago. She was experiencing difficulties from a "mass" near one of her kidneys....
    6 weeks followed and they finally diagnosed it as pancreatic cancer and three weeks later she passed. It has been a whirlwind of emotions for my family...

    I went to care for her two weeks ago not knowing that I was going home to watch my mother die. It was healing to watch the progression of her life come to an end and often wished I could have taken pictures...

    My sister was opposed because she felt that we should rememebr my mom as she was.
    I guess that leads me to the question of whether it's reasonable for me to feel---that we document the joyful things and we documents moments in time but we leave so much of the non fluffy bad times out...

    I didn't take pics to respect my sisters wishes but I still regret it---I really would have liked to have a complete documentation of my mom's life...the highs to the lows.

    There was one day in particular that I have embedded in my mind...the sun was rising and the sky was a wash of reds and oranges with hints of purples and blues....you could barely make out the tops of the trees and see the expanse of land ahead all washed in warm tones....I cranked my mom's bed up so it was up above the sight line of the window(so picture a bed at about head height---she laughed really softly and told me I was nuts in spanish) I didi it so she could see...as the sun rose the room was completely engulfed in this orange/pinkish glow and as it rose into the sky the finest line of light outlined my mother's profile perfectly. Even though her features were gaunt and she looked nothing like the woman I knew...she was so beautiful and the image was so breathtaking that I remember it was one of the few moments that I was really at peace with everything that was happening. It was like watching a new day rising on the chapter of an old life.

    How do you guys feel about photographying tragedy and loss....as it happens and unfolds. I know journalists are paid to do this ---but us "common folk" live under a different set of ethics---i feel it's almost considered taboo and inappropriate...what's your take....

    this is my favorite picture of my mom...I hand tinted(computer aided) it so we can have it enlarged to canvas for the service.....

    Thnaks for listening...if this is better suited for the off topic please move it along---I posted it here because of the second part of the topic....take care. live for today and live it well.

    hugs to all of you
    natalie
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  2. #2
    don't tase me, bro! Asylum Steve's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    So sorry to hear of your loss, Nat. Great pic of your mom...

    The questions you pose are tough to answer. Personally, I feel that there is very little that is off limits to being photographed, especially when it's for your own personal use and your motives are sincere.

    I think a person has the right to record images of family and dear friends at any stage of their lives, especially if they have the potential to become precious memories.

    This is often what helps allow us to continue to live our own lives a certain way and along a certain path....
    "Riding along on a carousel...tryin' to catch up to you..."

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  3. #3
    Moderator dana m.'s Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Nat,
    A very loving tribute written by you..very moving. You might, in the future, be interested in the new Annie Leibovitz book. "Annie Leibovitz - A Photographer's Life". She does document the death of the love of her life in photographs. My thoughts are with you.
    dana m.

  4. #4
    Liz
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    Moderator Emeritus Liz's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Dear Natalie,

    I'm so sorry about your mother's death, especially happening so quickly. Your beautiful tribute to your mother touched my heart. I didn't realize you had spent so much time with her, and I'm so glad that you had this opportunity to be there for her and with her.

    Natalie, photography is one of the loves of your life. And your desire to remember your mother as she looked all throughout her life - in photographs - is natural. I'm sorry this desire wasn't completely fulfilled. However, it is evident from your tribute that you have it etched in your heart. You're also a beautiful writer, and your poetic description of that special moment is significant and meaningful. Keep it with your photographs of your mother, and you will be able to envision that moment again in your heart.

    Your Mother was beautiful! You resemble your Mother. This is a beautiful photograph too. You did a good job getting up here! Thanks for sharing your loss with us in the most personal way, Natalie.

    You're so much apart of us here, Natalie. We share your loss. We love you, Nat!

    Be of good courage. You have a beautiful family that loves you as their Mother and wife, and you have many friends. I'm glad I'm one of them.

    Liz

  5. #5
    Carpe Diem I_Fly's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Natalie,

    My condolences on your loss. It is obvious that you love her a great deal. Your hand tinted photo is beautiful!

    Having just lost my father to lung cancer last December, I can understand your desire to document the last days of a loved one, yet not know if it's appropriate. Unlike your experience, I had 20 months to come to grips with what my dad was going through and what was coming. At the end of that time, he looked nothing like the man I still picture in my mind. My wife found out she was pregnant the same month my dad was diagnosed so I took photos of him every chance I got. After my son was born, I tried to capture them together as often as I could. I did it so my son would know that his papa loved him very much and for me so I could look back at see the love my son and father shared. It was obvious that my son adored his papa and vice versa.

    The last few weeks as it became obvious that he was losing his battle, I only took a few photos. I tried to capture the love he felt for his family and that we had for him and not focus on his appearance. It was tough because I felt guilty; like I was documenting his death but knew that eventually those photos would mean a great deal to me. It's been almost a year and I enjoy looking at all of the photos I have of my dad. The last few I took are still painful to look at but bring joy in being able to see the love for his family even through his suffering.

    Everyone's family and personal concience is different. For me, the answer was to take some photos. I'm not sure I could do that with someone not in my family though.

    Again, please accept my condolences. I know from my recent loss how painful that can be.
    Troy

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  6. #6
    Senior Member swmdrayfan's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Natalie....my condolences. Always hard to lose a loved one, especially the one that gave you life, healed your hurts, reveled in your successes, and shared your journey thru life.

    Each one of us who holds a camera, holds a looking glass of sorts. It's how we choose to view the world around us. The fact that you wanted to chronicle the painful (to your family) progression of your mother's passing is no less a part of reality than say, a birthday celebration. Each of us has to deal with our feelings on the subject. For some, it's a sorrowful thing, and there tends to be a feeling of 'morbid' attached to the thought of such a thing as photographing the end of a life. Yet, there are many, many people who will take photographs of their still-born children as a rememberance. Personally, I think a shot of your mother enjoying the view of the outside world one more time, would have been a great illustration that she enjoyed life right up to the end.

  7. #7
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Hi Natalie,
    I can understand totally how you feel. I went through the same thing in May 05. My mother went through a horrible thing and she also passed away. I didn't take my camera with me, because I just didn't think of it and wasn't in the mood to think about it....until I saw her all made up and looking beautiful surrounded by flowers that were so many that they had to move her to a bigger chapel to accomodate all the people and the flowers. My dad and I went up to her and said she looked so beautiful. It was then that I wished I had my camera. My family wouldn't have been against it. I come from a European background and over in the old home country, they take pictures...none of us just thought about it and I wish to this day I did.

    Well, it wasn't long, 8 months later, that my dad, after being married to mom for 68 years passed away this past Jan. I made sure I asked everyone what they thought about me taking a picture, and they all said it was fine. So, I do have some pictures of Dad...and I'm happy I do. He didn't look sick, he didn't look morbid...he just looked at peace and looked lovely. The sad part is, now it's too late to get the pics of mom...so, I'll have to remember her and how peaceful and beautiful she looked and I still have the pics of her before she got ill.

  8. #8
    Member karen m.'s Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Natalie,
    I am sorry for you loss, My dad and I cared for my mom at home (lung cancer that went into her brain) I am glad I was there when she passed away, I was able to see her not in pain anymore.

    My dad brought out his video camera and took videos of my mom with my aunts (her sisters) and my nieces. I am glad I have them.


    Karen

  9. #9
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Sorry to hear of your loss Natalie. Loosing my dad recently still aches in my heart. I am so glad that I have him on dvd, so I can watch him in more happy times.
    To bad your sister didn't really understand what you wanted to do, maybe down the road she will realize that it would of been a good idea after all.

  10. #10
    Senior Member racingpinarello's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Hi Natalie,

    I send my deepest wishes to you and your family for the loss of your mother. The photo of your mother is really nice.

    It's hard to look back and wish you had taken photographs of the funeral because I am sure your sensitivity would have made the right photographic decisions. It's a hard decision and event to photograph but I don't think it's taboo, but rather outside the visual boundaries of most people. I have the utmost confidence that your photographs would have been special.

    While you cannot go back, it seems that your mother is with you and I am glad that you got to spend the closing moments with your mother. The moment you described for the sunrise is really special and it's not a tragedy or a loss to photograph in this moment. At that moment in time she was beautiful and happy, and always your mother. You were trying to remember her as she was, a fighter and beatiful woman.

    You should feel good that you STILL saw her as she still was, and that you took a picture of her that will last forever. Not with your camera, but with your eyes.

    Again I am sorry for your loss.

    Loren
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  11. #11
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Nat, so sorry for your loss, and my condolances to you.

    I think you were well within your rights to photograph your mother. But there are always instances where it's not possible to take a picture for one reason or another. Those are the times when we have to take the picture with our mind's eye, and store it in our memory. It was thoughtful of you to consider your sister's wishes as well, even if you think she was wrong.

    Think of this, Nat ... if you *had* had your camera in the room at that moment, would you have perhaps been more preoccupied with getting the picture *just right* than you would have spent living there in that moment with her? As it turned out, that peaceful moment that the two of you shared was possibly more precious to your mom than if she had felt the intrusion of a camera right then.

    And you will always have the image in your mind, to describe with words, to work through with other art forms ... I'm sure the image will find its way into your work in other forms. You may never share that exact moment with anyone else, but that inspiration can provide beauty over and over again. Use the color palette in your business cards. Put together a flower arrangement in shades of sunrise and ivory. Keep your ears open for a piece of music that could provide a soundtrack to the memory. Capture future sunrises glistening off of stones or buildings or other symbols of your mother's strength or personality. I know you don't have images of her final days, but you can symbolize her in so many ways.

    Strength to you and your family.
    ~Kelly
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  12. #12
    Janie O'Canon Rebel Janie's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Everyone mourns and remembers in different ways - it may have been a nice way to keep your mom in nice spirits - my grandmother loved when i came to take her picture. It made her perk up.

    That being said, the image you describe sounds beautiful and that "picture" will be etched in your mind forever, as yours alone... a special gift the two of you shared. ;)
    http://janehaas.com

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  13. #13
    Ex-Modster Old Timer's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    First let me say how sorry I am for your loss. Losing a parent is a very difficult time. I went through the pain of losing my father when I was 30 years old (some time ago), but rarely does a day go by that I do not still think about him and compare my action to what I think he would have approved of. More recently Joy lost two of her sisters to cancer. We are both very grateful that we have images of them that date close to their deaths. No one wants to see pain and suffering in a loved ones. But when you are able to capture the spirit and the inter-strength of the individual those images are more valuable than can ever be calculated. My thought and prayers are with you and your family in this difficult time.
    Don't forget about the Gallery. Are your photos there??


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  14. #14
    Co-Moderator, Photography as Art forum megan's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Sorry to hear that Nat.
    I don't know what else to say.
    Megan

  15. #15
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    I'm very sorry for your loss Nat. The moment you described is a beautiful image that I know you will keep close to your heart forever.

    Mike
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  16. #16
    nature/wildlife co-moderator paulnj's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Nat, I love you honey and my heart goes out to you

    I honestly believe the image you discribe could not be printed anywhere near to that image in your head, nor can it be lost or fade
    CAMERA BIRD NERD #1




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  17. #17
    Senior Member readingr's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Nat,

    I am so sorry for your loss and can't imagine what your going through as both mine are still around.

    The words are very moving and the picture you describe of the moment with your mother is the way I would want to remember mine.

    Roger
    "I hope we will never see the day when photo shops sell little schema grills to clamp onto our viewfinders; and the Golden Rule will never be found etched on our ground glass." from The mind's eye by Henri Cartier-Bresson

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  18. #18
    LRPS Alison's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    So sorry to hear your news Nat.
    I love the photograph of her. She was so beautiful.
    My thoughts are with you.

  19. #19
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    My condolences...
    -Seb

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  20. #20
    Just a Member Chunk's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    I'm so sorry to hear this Nat. Loosing a parent is never easy.

    I see now that beauty is passed well along the female side of your family. I see much of your daughter and you in your Mom's eyes.

    I think the decision should rest finally with the person being photographed. If that person would feel bad about having shots of them while they are sick, they shouldn't be done. If they don't mind, then it should be up to the people who want the photos. Those who don't want them certainly don't need to look at them.
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  21. #21
    ...just believe natatbeach's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Asylum Steve, dana m.,Liz, I_Fly, swmdrayfan, CanonFodder, karen m., barb_48, racingpinarello, opus, janie, Old Timer, megan, mjs 1973, paulnj, reading r, genebowhay,chunk, sebastian, Alison...

    thank you for your condolances and thank you for sharing your thoughts. A lot of you gave me some food for thought and thanks for allowing me to see some unexplored ways of seeing the situation...I'm also grateful that some of you have shared your own personal stories of loss and given me some ideas to express the memories I have in other creative outlets.

    Just simply thanks for taking time out of your day to be there. It helps in healing and I---as usual feel very comforted in knowing that there is a community of individuals that are really pretty amazing.

    regards and hugs, thank you again...
    nat
    "I was not trying to be shocking, or to be a pioneer.
    I wasn't trying to change society, or to be ahead of my time.
    I didn't think of myself as liberated, and I don't believe that I did anything important.
    I was just myself. I didn't know any other way to be, or any other way to live."
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  22. #22
    Member tink's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Oh Nat, reading that flooded back so many memories about my father dying only just under a year ago. It is so hard going through the emotions of the end of time and the need to document someone's passing is very much a personal matter.

    I believe you made the right choice by respecting your sister's wishes. You were not selfish in your thoughts and did what was right at the time. I went through similar images and thoughts yet felt guilty that if I did take pictures would I be frowned upon in doing so. In the end I did take just 2. One of my father's and my own hand holding on to each other. The other, my mother's hand holding his. I could not bring myself to take more than just these and now I too wish I had done more. Although I believe that in respect to my father, I know he would not have wanted us to remember him in death but in life.

    Hugs to you and all of your family. I am so sorry to hear of your Mother's illness and passing.

    My thoughts are with you xx

  23. #23
    Hardcore...Nikon Speed's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Hello Nat,

    I'm sorry to hear about your mother. I know she hadn't been doing well. It is hard to lose someone you love.

    From your description of the sunrise, I think it would have been a beautiful and fitting photo to take. Respecting your sister's wishes was VERY gracious of you. Ultimately, each of us has to decide for themselves if it is appropriate or not.

    The photo is beautiful! You did a great job with the handcoloring. It is obvious where you got your good looks from.

    We will keep you in our hearts and our prayers.
    Nikon Samurai # 1


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  24. #24
    the analog kid Max P D's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Sorry for your loss Natalie. What a lovely portrait.

    Sincerely,
    Dan

  25. #25
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: sad news and some thoughts...

    Sorry to hear about your loss Nat. I think that the decision to take photos or not during that period is an individual one and that you should not be denied your wish, because of those of another.

    You really gain a different perspective on cancer, when if you see it from the other side. Hope it never happens to you, or anyone for that matter.

    Ronnoco

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