Monday, April 07, 2008

Glutton for Punishment, (Among Other Things)

I knew I should’ve put down the mouse when I read, ‘“This somber series of portraits taken of people before and after they had died is a challenging and poignant study.”’

I knew I should have walked away from the computer when I saw, “These photos are simultaneously haunting and beautiful.”

But apparently what I know I should do, and what I actually do are two very different things.

I was drawn to that turquoise link like a moth drawn to light. And before I knew what was happening, the “before and after death” portraits were flashing across my screen.

I think I reached the fifth dead person before I noticed a large pool of sweat on my keyboard, and it wasn’t long after that that I slipped into a full blown panic attack. I spent most of that night crying hysterically and thinking of nothing but death.

It’s been several days since the “viewing” and I’m just now able to talk about it.

It wasn’t the photos, so much, that got to me. In hindsight, they weren’t that disturbing at all. In fact, (though it sounds insensitive), most of the people were fairly old, and they looked peaceful in death—not terribly different from the photos in which they were breathing.

What got to me was the fact that these people knew they were dying. And that sounds somewhat ridiculous, because seriously, we all know we’re dying. I certainly do. But these people really knew they were dying and knew what they were dying from. It just hit me. It hit me hard to imagine what it would feel like to look into the camera for your pre-death portrait. It still gives me the chills.

If anyone shares my morbid fascination, the before and after portraits can be found


tournesol said...

Yikes! I know better than to look! How did you run across something like that? Glad your back.

Leila V. said...

I wish I was as smart as you, (I could've spared myself a lot of grief). I found the photos over at Dooce.

It's all in my head.... hopefully. said...

I already have enough fear in my head, thanks. The thing is, we fear the unknown.... always worrying we're dying of this or that but never knowing we're dying. Those people knew they were dying, accepted it and were preparing for the transition in a positive way. I wouldn't feel sorry for them at all. Like you said, we're all dying. Their time had come and they accepted it... no more fear. They wouldn't have sat for those portraits if they we're uneasy about the transition. Try to see it in a positive light. I think they did. Glad you're back.

Leila V. said...

Glad I could share, you know misery loves company. You make a good point—most of the people said they had accepted their fate—so I don't feel sorry for them, I feel sorry for me, because I can't accept mine.

Aubrey said...

I'm with you in the acceptance part. I already knowing looking at such a thing would bother me, but me too, I know I want to click it.

I think we should all work on the acceptance part of the fact that we do not know when death will come but will just be there and then there won't be anymore worries about it.

I feel like I'm jinxing myself just by talking about it; I hate OCD/hypochondria.

Anonymous said...

A newbie to your blog, but not a newbie to hypo...I actually question(ed) whether most of those people were actually dead in the second picture. A couple you can tell were for real, but I can't help but feel like the portfolio was buffered with others that were not.

Of course, it still gave me a wave of that familiar anxiety too...

Sens said...

I read this last night while on my iphone and checked out the photo's....not a good idea at 1:20am for any hypochondriac.