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March 14, 2006


Queen Mother

After reading these accurate descriptions of family funerals I regret I wil not be here to celebrate my own by reading The Queen's blog about it. My only contribution will be The Death File I have been compiling for ten years in hopes of controling every aspect of my demise. Now I have to go back and add some comedy to the file to juice up the insurance numbers and such.


My Mom's family is big on taking photos during funerals. I don't know if it's a Filipino thing, a Catholic thing or a combination of both, but it kind of creeps me out, too. But then, I was born and raised in the U.S. and so am very Westernized when it comes to matters of death.

Example: When my Grandfather (the Tagalog term is Lolo) died ten years ago, we went back to the Philippines for the funeral. The wake was taking place in the living room, and everyone from the town seemed to be in the house waiting for us to arrive.

Including Grandpa.

Yeah. It was quite a sight to see my Lolo's casket (open but with plexiglas over, well, him) surrounded by dozens of people I didn't know in a terrifically humid house after 24 hours of travel. And did I mention that he was still there WHEN WE WENT TO SLEEP? Uh, YEAH. If memory serves, the funeral home people picked him up in the morning for the service.

To make an already long story short, I didn't sleep well that night knowing that my deceased Lolo was in the living room below me. At least I'll have many photos to remember the wake by.


I think what creeps me out about the photos is that I see it from the point of view of the corpse. Granted, a professional has done your hair and makeup, but you still aren't looking your best, are you? Then again, Uncle Jack looked perhaps even less cadaverous than in life.

I don't think I could take sleeping in a home with a corpse, especially humid. I admire you for heading off for the Phillipines; I don't even cross state lines for a funeral.

Delores Brazaski

Taking photos of the deceased is not a new or rare thing in America. First of all 100 years ago most people didn't use funeral homes and the dearly departed was commonly laid out in the living room or the parlor (look at "Gone with the Wind"). In the 1930's this was still a very common practice, more so because people couldn't afford a funeral home. The funeral as we know it has only been around 50 to 60 years or so. In the 1860's men had thier photos taken before they went off to war, so their family would have a picture of them if they died. Photographs were taken at funerals, because photography was not that common and was expensive and the funeral was your last chance to get a picture of the deceased. I read an interesting article from 1907, where a woman had her husband's body exhumed 3 weeks after he was buried so she could have him photographed becasue she didn't have a picture of him, she had to get a permit - now that is creepy.
But the custom of taking photos of the deceased was fairly popular through the 1950's. It has diminished as photography became cheaper and more readily available and most people had, at some point had their picture taken while alive.


Delores - (Hi and Welcome!) That's very interesting. I suppose the excuse nowadays is that there is no recent photo of that person - People in hospital rooms don't like to be photographed, I suppose. that starts to make sense.

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