• Mitch McDad

    I don’t get it. The only thing as natural as life is death. I don’t see what is so controversial about these photos. And to be nauseated by them; grow up.

  • Stephanie

    I thought they were beautiful and very respectful. Thank you for sharing that link.

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful

  • http://www.tomifobia.com John Mahoney

    This set of photographs is outstanding. Do not be afraid to look — you might even come to ‘see’.

  • http://www.myspace.com/kiminchrg Kiminchrg

    I loved the pictures. Beautiful & very haunting!

    And it was nice, in the captions, to see a little humor to… “And I just bought a deep freezer. If I’d only known!” That’s something my family would say.

    Thansk for sharing.

  • karen

    I liked Mimi’s comment. There was nothing hateful about it. It was an articulate, passionate response regarding a controversial topic. Her respect for Heather was more than obvious to me. Heather responded to that respect by addressing it and opening comments for us.

    Regarding the link itself, the after-shot always looked more lifelike than the before-shot.

  • Anonymous

    Incredible. Just incredible.

    I watched my sister-in-law die from lung cancer last year. I watch the moment she went from life to death. She was in so much distress. Her face was pinch. She was laboring to breath. When she died her face became peaceful. Absolutely beautiful, poignant, and heart-breaking.

  • Deanna McNeil

    I was moved beyond words for hours. Really, what commentor #1 (Eric) said? I agree with him 100%: Live your life!

  • Simon

    The pictures are beautiful. The distance between life and death can be as little as the difference between two clicks of a camera shutter.

    Get out there and do something before you hear the second click.

  • kel

    beautiful and amazing.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • http://www.twitter.com/vivvily Viv

    What’s wrong with this world is people who assume the worst in others. I, probably like most of your readers, would never have assumed that you meant anything but to share something you found moving and beautiful. That email you got was just so… surprising. I guess firstly it surprised me that people would find those pictures nauseating, but after my surprise was immediate understanding. However for anyone to assume that you did it deliberately to shock and nauseate people… astounding.

    What sad pictures and a moving reminder of context and life. Thank you for linking.

  • http://www.inspireddzine.com Michelle

    Amazing concept from the photographer. An inspiration to purpose to enjoy & appreciate every day & every moment.

  • http://www.naturesthumbprint.com Miss

    I think they were beautiful but then, I don’t have hang ups about death.

    Not that I want to experience it personally.

  • Katrena

    Those photos didn’t really affect me. It’s pictures of dead people. What’s the big deal?

  • Hllary

    I thought they were beautiful. I fwded them onto my photography friend.

  • http://fridayfilms.blogspot.com Friday

    Tsk, you people need to lay off Mimi. Fair enough, if the photos provoked a reaction in her. I believe that’s why they were created? After I sat through two hours of Funny Games U.S., I was ready to give Michael Haneke a right verbal flogging (shoot the messenger, yeah?). The only difference is, he wasn’t available for me to rail at and I had a chance to calm down before I got home to my email. It was very kind of Heather to give her an opportunity to voice how they made her feel (I’m sure she’s plenty sorry she spoke up.) (No, I’m not Mimi).

  • Karrie

    I feel bad saying I ‘enjoyed’ looking at pictures and reading about people who were sick and who died, but I really loved that you posted the link for it and I’m so glad I looked at it. I thought it was so interesting… more the interview part than the pictures, actually. Alot of them seemed so sad and so empty and really just mad about dying. I find that extremely interesting… something so many could learn from.
    I just can’t imagine having that feeling – the empty or the questioning… I feel sad for them

    Very interesting, Heather. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    The woman who lived with rejection her entire life touched me the most… especially when she said now it felt as though life itself was rejecting her. I could weep….. How many people live and die feeling rejected and worthless? That moved me beyond words. Every human has value, and it is so very important to tell them so.

  • Anonymous

    So incredibly profoundly thought provoking. The captions peirced my heart. Makes me want to go hug my husband. *Tear

  • http://www.9moonsago.com Amy

    I think this is a tribute to these beautiful people -beautiful despite and BECAUSE of their very human feelings and conditions- and the medium is a traditional way to pay tribute to the dead, though we don’t see it much at all these days: the post-mortem photograph. I believe that things which are ugly or unpleasant in life are often swept under the rug these days. Everything seems sanitized beyond belief sometimes. It is good to see real and gritty life staring one in the face. We all will be facing death eventually… this makes me think about how I might handle my own life and death!

  • http://www.paperwhitesinseason.blogspot.com Mer

    I think people surf the Internet at their own risk.

    Jason Kottke posted the same link and he didn’t have comments. Why are you obligated to open comments?

    Get over it, Mimi.

  • Jen

    I too thought they were amazing. And beautiful. Death is just another part of life. Why not celebrate it all?

  • http://dykewife.blogspot.com naomi

    since photography was a commercial field, people have had photos of their loved ones in the caskets before their burial. that practise has since died away, but there are still some who choose to do that.

    mimi had choices to make and instead of taking responsibility for her own actions and feelings, she chose to blame heather. that speaks about volumes about mimi, not heather.

    heather, you didn’t have to open up comments for mimi or anyone else for that matter. if mimi felt so strongly about the photographs she could have made her own blog entry about how she felt. instead she blamed you. but it’s not about you, it’s really about her.

    it’s truly unfortunate that we, as people in the western world, have lost touch with the cycles of life. birth is in a hospital, the dying are put away in hospitals (though more are dying in their own homes with their families) and then are given over to the mortuaries and few people get to see them before they’re embalmed, painted up and coifed to look alive.

    i didn’t find the photos to be disturbing at all. i really liked them all, both the quick and the dead. it was just people empty of life. it’s not like they were shown after a disastrous accident or murder…now those are disturbing.

  • http://chopstickbunny.blogspot.com angela

    I like to cook; caring for others by preparing a meal to nourish their bodies means a lot to me. It really irritates me when someone can’t bear to look at raw meat, but has no problem eating a hamburger. Become a vegetarian; I promise I won’t make too much fun of you…

    Mimi’s e-mail pissed me off. She was specifically told what they were and STILL looked at them anyway. If a person cannot look at something natural like death, she probably doesn’t deserve the blessing of life.

  • Mimi, “THE” Mimi

    (originally sent to Heather but I am posting it here for all to read)

    Heather,

    The point of my email was NOT the images but that you closed the comments.

    Now that I’ve been told to place a stick up my ass and pull it out, I feel I must defend myself a bit.

    I had just finished reading this article on SF Gate about my friend’s unsolved murder case in San Francisco. It has been ongoing for a year and has been emotional and frustrating. With the article were posted bloody, crime scene images I had never seen before. THAT made me nauseous. Not because I’m squeamish, I’m not. It was because I was looking at my friend’s blood all over his apartment, wondering what he must have gone through.

    Moments later I went to your site for my daily dose of Dooce. Your comments introducing the link were honest and accurate. I knew what I was going to be viewing. Coupled with the images I had viewed moments before I was then in death overload and was unprepared for my own reaction and feelings. I felt overwhelmed.

    I think you, of course, have a right to post whatever you want on your site. I am a fan. I just found it to be completely unlike you (from what I have come to know of your reading your postings) to close the door to feedback, especially when posting something that you knew would probably evoke a lot of feelings and reactions from your readers. I found it to be evasive. It didn’t seem like you.

    Why DID you originally close the post to comments? I’m not the only reader who made note of this, am I?

    Mimi
    Oakland, CA

    And a second email to Heather entitled “Mob Mentality”:

    Heather,

    I don’t know how you do it. I’m a little taken aback by the things people write. And they don’t read thoroughly, they just spew out venom without even attempting to understand what the writer is saying. If you thoroughly read my email to you it clearly does not attack you for your post. I merely shared with you 1) how it made me feel, and 2) questioned why you closed comments. At no time did I say anything about you or your right to post them.

    Now I have made one fatal error: I assumed you left the comments open on all your posts. I looked. You don’t. I thought you always left comments open and thought you closed them for fear of the ensuing potential reaction to the images.

    As for calling you a chicken shit, I know you can take it. And I called you a chicken shit in the same way I’d call a friend of mine chicken shit for not doing any number of acts I might be goading her into doing that she desn’t want to do. Yes, you’ve been goaded.

    Enough.

    Mimi
    Oakland, CA

  • http://thecrookedmadestraight.typepad.com Shelia

    I think they are beautiful photos. I just got back to LA last night after spending the weekend in Austin, TX, where I gave part of the eulogy at my dear friend’s memorial service. She was 42 when she died on March 11, so these photos were especially meaningful and poignant for me.

  • Elaine

    If you click thru to the interview with the two people (Walter Schels and Beate Lakotta) who actually did the project, the ambivalence in some of the comments here is shared. I found the fact that Walter Schels was so terrified of death that he felt compelled to do this, almost as touching as the images themselves. The accompanying text makes the photos so powerful – without the context the images are just sad – her words are their voices.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/apr/01/society.photography

  • http://watdawat.com Chris Austria

    The pictures reminded me so much of my grandfather. Reading through the comments, you certainly have a lot of loyal fans.

    Did you know what kind of comments you’ll receive when you enabled the comments section?

  • Anonymous

    My mom died 10 days ago. These photos are beautiful. Most of these people look so much better than my mom, who outlived a 6 month diagnosis to live much much longer than expected (2.5 years), which meant death took her little by little until she was a dried, crisped shell of a human. And yet she looked so peaceful when it was all over. Thank you for posting this link, I am going to share it with my family.

  • Lana Wood

    I think the photos are beautiful. Both my parents were very ill and in a lot of pain before they died. I remember each time, sitting with each of them waiting for the funeral home people to come how good it was to see them peaceful, their faces relaxed, not longer tensed with pain.

  • http://www.complikated.com/ Kate

    In defense of Mimi, I don’t think she was blaming Heather for posting the link; she just wished she could share her response. Then again, she called Heather a chicken shit, so it was a pretty immature reaction.

    As for me, I’m the type who is fascinated by death but likely to be nauseated because it also bothers me. I obviously clicked the link and, like most people here, thought the photos were beautiful. Thanks for sharing, Heather.

  • http://www.suburbanbliss.net MelissaS

    I think Mimi is terrified of death and needs a hug.

    The woman who felt rejected by life itself, so painful. I hope death has given her something she needed while in this life.

  • Aprille

    Those pictures were amazing and beautiful. Makes a person realize that there is no promise of tomorrow so we should just stop complaining and enjoy life.

  • Mimi, “THE” Mimi

    I have posted this several times throughout today…

    Heather,

    I don’t know how you do it. I’m a little taken aback by the things people write. And they don’t read thoroughly, they just spew out venom without even attempting to understand what the writer is saying. If you thoroughly read my email to you it clearly does not attack you for your post. I merely shared with you 1) how it made me feel, and 2) questioned why you closed comments. At no time did I say anything about you or your right to post them.

    Now I have made one fatal error: I assumed you left the comments open on all your posts. I looked. You don’t. I thought you always left comments open and thought you closed them for fear of the ensuing potential reaction to the images.

    As for calling you a chicken shit, I know you can take it. And I called you a chicken shit in the same way I’d call a friend of mine chicken shit for not doing any number of acts I might be goading her into doing that she desn’t want to do. Yes, you’ve been goaded.

    And look at what has been shared today. THAT’s more beautiful than the images.

    Mimi
    Oakland, CA

  • Kathleen

    They were beautiful. The little stories about each person were incredible, thank you for posting this.

  • http://wateringplace.blogspot.com MomVee

    Not nauseating. Fascinating how people cease to look like themselves in death, as if the soul really does animate the face, even in photographic respose.

  • Ashley Mess

    I’ve looked at your sit several times and always found it very funny and uplifting in your own way. I’m still young & got a lot to learn, but coming from someone that just lost 2 grandparent, its relieving to have some what of an insight as to how my family might have felt. Even if the last moments where that they where scared, who wouldn’t be. Thanks for posting this, it kinda helped me.

  • sue.g

    I was very moved by the photos and the snippets of their lives. The woman who never spoke to her ex-husband until the end made me cry.

    Live without regrets people, forgive each other. I believe in life after death. This time we have here is merely a breath.

  • http://www.mytrivialramblings.blogspot.com Ashmystir

    That lady is an idiot! I think those before/after pics are beautiful representations of the human spirit. I would have been bothered IF they had been mutilated but they really just look at peace and asleep.

    I had also wondered why you close comments but that is YOUR choice. I figure that you just get slammed by comments from us fans of your blog and are too busy taking a picture for our daily chuck to read all of them.

    Cool blog!

  • robinv

    Thanks for opening comments on this one.
    If someone is nauseated by death, I feel they not only fear death, but living also. It’s sad when someone can’t/won’t face the inevitable reality that we all die. I am happy to see that so many had a peaceful look on their faces. I saw that peace come over my father’s face the day he died. It was very comforting.
    Thanks for posting the link.

  • Carly

    Those photos are elegant, moving, and beautiful. thanks, Heather. Don’t let the idiots get you down.

  • pharmgirl

    As weird as this is – it gave me perspective on a very difficult day.

    thank you for providing the link.

  • http://www.enny-pen.blogspot.com enny

    The only difference is their mouths are so relaxed.

    Perhaps the text is confronting, but not in a nasty way – just to make you realise: wow. Death is it.

  • KittyJJ

    Just like the first commenter: beautiful and amazing, and incredibly moving.

    I would like to thank you for directing me towards those. I felt the photographer’s work was compassionate and important, in relation to a subject that is as inescapeable as it is often ignored.

  • Diane

    I thought these were wonderful. Not that the people had died, but because they did, as one comment said, look at peace. I almost chicken shitted out because I just recently lost my Grandmother to cancer. The last time I saw her (we lived on different ends of the states) she was healthy and so full of life, to see her in that casket, but it not really be her, really upset me. I worried that she had been in pain at the end. And she was. But these people looked at peace and I can think of Gram as having been at peace at the end and my heart is a little less broken. Thnak you Heather.

  • http://www.jemimablog.com Jemima

    Wow. I felt…scared. Nervous and maybe a little uncomfortable. And sad that so many of them had things left to do. It makes me want to simultaneously cry and to go climb Everest.

  • Anonymous

    I encourage anyone who was moved by these photos to watch the recent Frontline episode called The Undertaking, about life and death and a small-town funeral home. It is available to watch in full online at pbs.org.

  • Nikki

    They all look so peaceful…

  • SilverPoet

    I couldn’t look thorough all the photos, but that is because of more of a personal choice that I like to remember people for what and who they were, because once we are gone, you can almost see that the “essence” is also gone. That said, I thought the photo study was done in a really great artistic way, and obviously reflected that very point, those people are gone and quiet and peaceful.

    Those folks obviously knew that they were going to be photographed and left amazing stories behind. I think that’s real strength.

    To not accept death is to not affirm life. The road begins and it also comes to a close on this world.

  • http://dykewife.blogspot.com naomi – again

    mimi responded not far above my original comment.

    mimi, if you have a strong reaction to the pictures, that is your stuff. heather has no obligation to you or anyone else to be a sounding board for your reactions. she is not your therapist, your spouse or your parent. sure you can say you felt nauseated by the photos, that’s your reaction. however, telling heather that she’s a coward because she chose (at hte time) to not have comments open is plain misdirection and obfuscation.

    your reaction is not the fault of heather, and heather is not obliged to take care of you.