• http://www.extemporaneous.wordpress.com Heather

    This was unbelievable and amazing and I feel like I need to go LIVE.

    Thank you.

  • Jordan

    I think these pictures are amazing and complex and powerful.

    They make me thankful for my healthy pregnancy and excited to meet the baby that is on the way into my life. At the same time they also make me feel sad and a little heartsick and lonely.

    I think provoking such complicated ideas and emotions is a sign of truly amazing art.

  • Jessica

    Amazing, beautiful, peaceful, relief. These are words I’d use to describe those photos. Not nauseating or disgusting. Reminds us not to take advantage of life. We should all be so lucky as to pass without regrets.

  • http://soupisnotafingerfood.wordpress.com Meg

    Just…. WOW. What an unusual idea for a photo essay. So moving. Definitely not nauseating… but very, very powerful.

  • erin

    Poignant images that remind us life is fleeting. If anything, we can learn from these people not to take for granted what we have, because something could just as easily come along and side-swipe us so that we frantically try to live. We have the opportunity every day to appreciate every minute detail.

    One of mine for the past few years has been to notice the changes in sunlight each morning, and to watch the spring buds on trees transform into leaves.

    Thanks for sharing this; it was an emotional reminder that I need to get back to the little things that make my family happy.

  • Sheri Bheri

    I have tears in my eyes, because that was so beautiful! And haunting.

    I think it was really tastefully done, and it’s not as if you tricked anyone into going to see disturbing photos of gruesome deaths.

    But I could see it being troublesome for someone who has cancer (or who loves someone who has cancer). I did have a moment of picturing my Mom (I can’t even say it) and it troubled me greatly (still does).

  • http://www.secondhandkarl.com/ Karl

    Good pics, I thought. I don’t get why you rarely open comments up on your blog, but it’s your space, I suppose. More like a journal, though, than a blog, in my opinion. Blogs should allow for comments. It’s how people connect.

  • Leena

    Wow! Amazing. I recently decided to volunteer at a local Hospice and ironically, my training is this week. Hearing how much some of these people appreciated their Hospice care, makes me know even more that this is what I need to do.

  • June


    I’m thinking this hasn’t quite panned out the way you had imagined.

    Seriously though, there’s a lesson to be learned from it.

    We all make mistakes. Admitting that can be very liberating and I’m sure Heather is quite gracious.


  • http://www.nessacery.blogspot.com Vanesa

    I found them to be hauntingly beautiful.

  • Anonymous

    As I looked at them, I thought, “I bet this is more meaningful for people who’ve never been with someone as he (or she) passed.” I worked in a nursing home to pay my way through college, and was with my father when he died, so when I clicked through to see the pictures, I felt that they, as beautiful as they are, do not do justice to what it is like to see a body die.

  • Anna

    These pictures are beautiful. Our society is so afraid of death that longed for and peaceful deaths are “nauseating.” That is too bad. Everyone dies. Some will be afraid of it until then, others will live their life to the fullest.

  • Amy

    I want to go hug my kids now.

  • K

    It never fails to surprise me the way people take ownership of you and your website. It’s good they feel so invested, but it’s your perogative to open comments when you feel like it. The end.

    Anyway, thanks for the link.

  • http://www.dananico.com Dana

    I can understand how some people may be disturbed and “nauseated” by these images – it’s difficult to embrace the beauty in death. However, this particular study was beautiful. I felt extremely touched and saddened by Barbara Grone’s story, “all my efforts were in vain”, she said. “It is as though I am being rejected by life itself.”

  • http://www.aravisarwen.com Connie

    I had heard of this sort of project, but never saw the results. This was beautiful, sad, loving and compassionate.

  • Jordan

    It’s not like the pictures were violent and gory…When you care for someone who is ill, they don’t look so different in death. When someone dies in your arms, you are forever changed by that moment, and in my case, now view death as a part of life.

  • sheeply

    These photos were surprisingly calming; not the contorted, painful vision we are subjected to in fiction and film. I only hope my passing and that of those I love is as peaceful as these pictures seem to portray.

    In reply to your email comment, a fear of death is no more than an uncertainty that one’s life is not real. Life without death is not real. Death is the one thing that brings any human being, irrespective of gender, religion, colour, creed, salary and social status, together. Live your life, and then die your death. Its the way things are meant to be.

  • http://delinquentdeb.blogspot.com/ Emily

    Fasciating, disturbing, truthful. The words from their interviews were haunting – so interesting the ways that people choose to live their lives, and the ways that they choose to see their deaths. Thanks for posting the link.

  • Leann

    And someone stuck a gun to her head and forced her to look at the link………..right??!!

    I found it inspiring and a reminder to take nothing for granted. Thank you for sharing it.


  • Azar

    I loved them, and was disappointed the exhibit is in London. I was especially interested in seeing the rest of the photographs after I read the accompanying article.
    Thank you for posting the link. I’m a big fan of photography, even if it is morbid or haunting. These were beautifully executed.

  • http://scribblehoney.com kalen

    i felt… bothered. though i think the idea can be poetically beautiful, sure, i still felt odd and undeserving of seeing the deceased that i didn’t personally know. if that makes sense?

  • Kelly M.

    I cried as well. So touching.

    A real reminder that you should make the best of it every day, we just don’t know how truly limited our time is.

    Mimi in Oakland:

    I am very sorry that you are so close minded and rude.

  • Lori

    I have a fascination with obituaries and read them in our paper every day. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if the obits were written as honestly as the stories with the photos? I was afraid to look at the dead ones but I found that everyone looked very peaceful.

    I do think it helps if you have dealt with death up close and personal (in the room when my grandmother died, held my dog as she died, etc.) It seems to take away the fear of death and seeing dead bodies. Maybe Mimi hasn’t experienced it yet.

  • http://acdalton.wordpress.com/ Amy

    Hey Miss Mimi Lady,
    Heather didn’t *take* the pictures–it’s a link. Save your irritation for the photographer.

    Now, I really want to comment on a more important photo. I have a huge crush on Beagle Bo, and I love how Chuck looks so delighted to have a partner in crime and Coco looks like she knows her ass is grass.

  • http://willikat.blogspot.com willikat

    i thought the photos shed a very dignified light on something that to many people, feels undignified. the photos made me very sad, but they were not grotesque or exploitative in any way. and yes, there was some kind of peace that seemed to be there in the death photos. and that was, in its own way, comforting.

  • http://www.thebickersonsblog.blogspot.com whitney

    I haven’t read any of the comments here and I’ve only looked at the first 6 or 7 photos. I got to the one of the divorced 60ish-yr-old woman who wanted to see and talk to her ex-husband before she died. My parents went through a very unpleasant divorce when I was 33. 33!! The woman in the picture wished she had forgiven him a long time ago. It took me a long time to let go of a lot of the pain from having my parents split up even after years of an unhappy marriage and pain when I was a kid.

    I think we have a lot to learn from the words that these people in the photos have to say.

    The pictures are hard and beautiful and interesting and sad and hopeful.

    I’m grateful to you for finding these interesting and –for some– therapeutic links for us.

    Peace out.

  • Miranda

    Where is Mimi now? Clearly she is out numbered and has retracted back into her little hole.

    Mimi, stop using the internet to be a bully. That’s not what it’s for… making you feel superior by putting other people down. Would you call Heather a chicken shit to her face? (If so, you have social issues)

    This is Heather’s little spot on the internet to do what she wants with it. And if she doesn’t want to deal with people like you then she is allowed.

  • http://www.8junebugs.com jenC

    Heather, thank you for never idiot-proofing your site.

    Moved, sad, inspired, thoughtful, comfortable, lonely, etc. All of these went through me when I paged through these photos…sometimes simultaneously. I think I expected beatific faces in the After photos and I was both disappointed and impressed that they just looked real.

    This has made me a little more motivated about a Before You Die project I’ve had in my head. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://blogs.fingerlakes1.com/snowcones/ Christina

    In January 2006 my 34 year old cousin was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In June 2006 she died. I wrote my masters thesis on the subject of death and grief that same year because the experience had such a profound effect on me. Part of Mimi’s “problem” is simply societal – Americans are less comfortable with death and dying than people in other countries, other cultures. When people die here they are whisked off and prepared by other people and then they reappear in a funeral home or church. Death and dying are taboo and they make people uncomfortable. When I looked at those pictures I saw my cousin’s face in every one of them. Thanks for posting them Heather.

    I took pictures of my cousin (at her mother’s request) in the hours after she had passed away. I haven’t seen them but I think maybe now I want to.

  • Rhea

    The Internet: user be aware


    (thanks for opening the comments, people’s perceptions and emotions read out so clearly and varied… I’d hope the artist gets a chance to see these responses to his work)

  • Lizardking

    I have such an amazing mix of emotions as I look at these photos and am on the verge of tears–because life is so very beautiful and I love living it so much. To see people face death with such grace and wisdom shows me how much I have left to grow, and I hope I have a long life to do so.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/urchinmama/ betsy

    Stunningly beautiful photos.

    We are so fearful of death in Western cultures — we have a lot to learn. Projects like this one have the power to educate, empower, and sensitize people to the process of dying. The photos are incredibly moving.

  • Angel in Kentucky

    My Mother died from cancer (at 61). I watched her breathe, and I watched it stop. Looking at those photos reminded me of those last moments with her, which I would NEVER change. As one hospice person said to me…..”How much closer can you get to Heaven’s Light, than to be with the one you love, while they are dying?” Profoundly HONEST.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • wumples

    Inspiring, beautiful, and resonating. Death is something we should embrace – it is inevitable.

    Now everybody go outside and play.

  • http://www.flickr.com/people/minta360/ DrM

    mimi?…i can not imagine using the internet was a new experience for u?…..if this beautiful & intimate exhibit of the cycle of life/death gives u that reaction?…..i wonder what happens in your daily life when u are confronted personally w/ a pet, loved one, partner passing?

    (93) meg?….we all have our own reality…& the right to express our opinions….u ask us to not comment on mimi…yet at the same time ask us to accept your view on our behavior…LOL which is it?…

    (98)jessica…ok..but how did you feel about the exhibit?….

    me personally?….thank u heather! beautiful stories…beautiful foto’s.

    most of all though..its the comments that moved me the most =) they are overflowing w/ compassion…luv..gratitude….& insight into the human experience…..after reading only about 50 comments ….i had to go hug my pup …..& blow my nose…..u people rock!

  • dj

    I read the comments as far as #8 who left such a brilliant comment that all others would pale in comparison.

  • Suzie

    I thought these were lovely. I know these particular photos were chosen to tell a story, but it was amazing to me that some of the more anxious people alive look so at peace dead.

    My own father lays dying as I type-and his dementia has stolen who it was we knew. The man that inhabits his body these days is someone none of us recognize-an angry destructive man my gentle and funny father would have hated.

    I’m hoping death brings back the gentle man he was-if even only to his face. These photos bring me that hope.

    Thank you for the link.

  • Christina

    I feel kind of angry, actually. Most of those people died of cancer, and yet, we are still producing products that are known to help develop these cancers along. And it makes me sad, my grandpa is dying of cancer right now. and he looks like these people – sad, lost, hopeless. And some so young. UGH.

  • ellen

    Really moving. The comments made it especially poignant. I watched my mom die and have never been more grateful for such an awful experience. We talked often about how her cancer just sucked the big one and dying was shitty. I hope someone does that for me.

  • http://www.eatersregret.wordpress.com Eater’s Regret

    Wow, anything that Mimi may have said in an emotional, visceral reaction to these pictures has been drastically overshadowed by the nasty comments in response. Heather is a big girl, who does not need the fawning Internet hoards defending her. Mimi was entitled to her opinion and emailed it privately, I’m sure Heather realises that when you get famous for something, the whole world is not going to agree with you. Mimi responded in a mature way to explain herself, the rest of the commenters have not. I do not believe that Heather should have posted the email, it was wrong to throw her to the wolves like this. As some other commenter has said, it sure does drive up traffic. Heather, I am a big fan of the site and will remain to be, but I didn’t realise you were capable of pettiness like this.
    This is schoolyard bullying. Commenters should take the stick out of their own asses, stop kissing up to Heather and just grow up!

  • http://www.mamaismsgear.com Tina Ericson

    Death is as real and as perfect as life. It is exactly what it is supposed to be and it is an eventuality that we must all learn to live with. Living with an understanding and acceptance of death is a rich and powwerful thing. Embracing the fact that we will one day die should free us to live our lives in a manner in which we are able to find peace, beauty and purpose.

    The only regret for death should be for those who did not have the opportunity to live life as it should have been. Those from whom life was taken too quickly, or too violently, but when old age brings us to the end of a life well lived it is an accomplishment that should be met with joy and gratitude.

  • Marie

    I could not handle them. They made me queasy. But that is just me. I do not like seeing those types of things. I can not even handle ER. But I would not get mad at you about them.

  • Heather from NC


  • hummingbird

    Haunting yes, in bad taste no. Perhaps the origional email comment was from someone that has issues with the idea of death. These photos are in no way disrespectful to the individuals who posed for them. The photos are amazing in their artistic nature. The comments are the words of the individuals features in the portraits.

    I would hope that someone would treat a death in my family with such a sense of respect.

  • Lisa

    Powerful. Amazing. I was with my aunt when she died after a long fight with cancer. It was the most beautiful and heartbreaking experience of my life.

  • Rochelle

    Beautiful work.
    And the most incredible spam blocker thingie last time I commented- never thought I’d type “norwegian orgy”.

  • Kay

    I saw a link to this on digg.com and the pictures were so amazing, they all looked like they were sleeping. It made me think of a dream I had recently; I dreamed I was dying and it felt just like falling asleep, and a voice said to me “this is what it is like, you just go to sleep”. The dream was so real that it creeped me out. My Father has just been through radiaton and chemotherapy for squamous cell carcinoma and I have been forced ot contemplate the possiblily that my Father is very near death and it was very comforting to know that he will be at peace and that one day I will too.

  • K

    It’s not quite seven in the morning, still dark outside and my husband is out of town, so I’m sitting in bed alone with my laptop, completely intrigued by the thought of this website, but far too much of a pansy (aka C.S.) to go there alone. Maybe later in the day, when it’s light outside. And when I’ve forgotten the comments that say it feels like they are looking over your shoulder.

    In the mean time, thank you for your commentary on life and for being brave enough to do it day after day, with a live link to your email sitting right there. That takes a much stronger stomach than having an itchy clicker finger and an overwhelming urge to blame someone else for your clickery.

  • http://allthingsbd.blogspot.com all things BD

    After reading the description, I chose not to click over and view the photos. I wish Mimi would have been more the wiser. If you can’t tell from that description that you need to be prepared and ready to view them, then I don’t know what to say.

    You have every right to post those photos, and I appreciate your making it a link instead of putting them up as the first thing you see so that I was able to make that choice.

    Thanks for opening up the comments so I could share.