Gransnet forums


Photograph of dying Gran

(181 Posts)
Jane10 Sat 13-Apr-19 07:57:50

I was horrified yesterday to find a photo of a poor old soul curled up on a bed apparently asleep. The text told me that it was the poster's gran who was in her last hours. Lots of responses offering support etc to the person who'd posted it. I replied suggesting that it was not very respectful to post this very private moment on a social media site. The poster replied with a lot of guff saying it was because she loved her etc etc.
Privacy, dignity, respect ? Was I overreacting?

GreenGran78 Sat 13-Apr-19 10:33:42

Willow10 How dreadful! No wonder you are upset. I would have been inclined to tell her to delete it, in front of you, on the threat of reporting her. I can understand that people can get very casual about such matters when they are in their everyday life, but she should know what is unacceptable.

Jane10 Sat 13-Apr-19 10:34:54

The lady in the photo apparently had Alzheimers so most unlikely to have given permission.
Willow10 how horrifying!! I'd certainly give that person a wide berth in future.

crazyH Sat 13-Apr-19 10:40:24

I remember my friend taking a photograph of her dying husband.....the flash startled him. I often wonder what he imagined the flash was. Did he think he had crossed over?

Willow10 Sat 13-Apr-19 10:50:18

GreenGran - I have thought of doing exactly that on the couple of occasions that I have seen her since. But somehow just the sight of her makes me feel that revulsion again and I can't even bring myself to approach her. I thought that sharing this might help me feel better, but that awful shock has got me shaking again just writing about it.

Cherrytree59 Sat 13-Apr-19 10:50:30

I agree Jane10 Extremely disrespectful sad

I was with both my parents when they died and the awful sight of an ill and dying person will stay with me forever.

I would have no wish for those extremly sad moments to be shared with anyone.

The last thing I could do for both my parents was to make sure they had a dignified death.

Buffybee Sat 13-Apr-19 11:40:45

Typical of this "me, me, me" generation. Everything has to always be about "them".
Showing every bit of their lives on social media, to give them their few seconds of "fame".
Craving recognition and sympathy from anyone and everyone.
So shallow!

Chucky Sat 13-Apr-19 12:14:35

Jane19 you were not over reacting, I think that sort of behaviour is absolutely disgusting and certainly not a way to show you loved anyone, rather just looking for attention and sympathy.
Cherrytree59 I completely agree with you. Unfortunately my father died alone in hospital, which was really not how he wanted to die. He was in a 4 bedded ward and we really didn’t get the opportunity to stay with him. We didn’t expect that to be the last time we saw him alive. My mother still talked about “if only we had pushed harder to stay with him 20 years later.
When it came to my mum’s time, she collapsed in front of me and I knew she had had a stroke, so phoned 999 immediately, however when we reached hospital they said she had had a massive bleed, with no chance of survival! They expected her to die imminently.
However she hung on for 3 days. I only left the hospital once to collect some clothes, my mum’s rosary and a photo of my father, to put on her pillow. Other family members did visit, but I insisted I wouldn’t leave her as I had promised her she wouldn’t die alone. She had a very peaceful, dignified death with me, my 3dc and 1 of my nieces with her. I felt it was the last thing I could do for her, before the arguments began!
I did take pictures of the flowers at the cemetery after both dad and mum’s funeral, but that was for me, not for others to see.

paddyann Sat 13-Apr-19 12:18:46

People have taken photographs of the dead and dying for as long as photography has been around .Over 40 years ago the area we worked in had a large ethnic community from Armenia (I think,it was a long time ago) They would prop the coffin up against a wall and have pictures taken with the deceased .Always professional send back "home"The first time we were asked to attend it was quite a shock ,but we soon realised it was just part of tradiition for them
.Over the years we've been the go to people for pictures of family with sick/prem /dying and dead babies.We've lost babies ourselves and the hospital knew we would be sensitive with the session .
The "born asleep" sessions are taken by volunteers who have experience of child loss and who know the importance of having something to show the family/world that there was a child that was and is a part of the family.So many times in the past these babies were expected to be put into the back of the parents minds.not spoken of and the phrase "forget about this one and try agian " was often used.Social media is a helpful tool in getting other people who haven't experienced stillbirth to see that it is just a baby... a baby that doesn't breath or cry ..but your baby and a part of you you will always carry in your heart .Its the ONLY memories of the child who you had high hopes for an dlikely a whole life planned.People ,on the whole dont take them to share,but if sharing helps even one other family come to terms with grief that cant be bad.
When we lost our babies we didn't get the footprints/lock of hair memory box tings that parents get today .It still grieves me that 40 odd years down the line there is nothing that says baby ever existed .Dont look down on the grief and the way of coping with it .Surely its better that we all can mention that wee life by its name and see its wee face .

Jane10 Sat 13-Apr-19 12:29:04

That's very sad paddyann and I can completely understand mothers, families, wanting keepsakes almost as proof and recognition that this baby existed.
However, in the case of the twitter post, the lady was of advanced age. She'd lived. Someone suggested that it would be more appropriate to post a picture of the lady while still 'herself' maybe at a family gathering and with the text saying something like 'remembering happier times' or something like that. This twitterer was clearly looking for pats on the back. It seemed to be all about her rather than her poor old gran exposed to complete strangers in her final hours.

Witzend Sat 13-Apr-19 12:29:57

We took a photo of my poor mother when she was dying at 97, with advanced dementia, but mainly for a sister living far away, who couldn't be there.
I wouldn't have dreamt of 'sharing' it on social media.

In a museum in Amsterdam recently I saw a very poignant painting of a baby of maybe 4-6 months, lying in its crib as if asleep, but obviously dead.. In the days before photography I dare say grief stricken parents with enough money to pay an artist, wanted that reminder.

Oldwoman70 Sat 13-Apr-19 12:33:34

Taking a picture as a personal memento or for family is one thing, posting a picture of a dying grandmother on social media is disrespectful.

grannyqueenie Sat 13-Apr-19 12:35:13

Good post paddy. One persons distasteful is another persons comfort. Every family have their own way of “doing death”, according to their cultural and own family traditions and I think that we need to accept and respect that.
A dear friend of ours died recently in an hospice overseas. I was in contact with him by email until only a few weeks prior to his death. His widow emailed us with an account of his last days and how all the family coped with what was happening, it was very moving to read. The funeral home had complied a beautiful photo book using photos of his life supplied by the family, this included a couple of him with his family in the last few days of his life. We were invited to view this online. It was sad and shocking to see the obvious physical changes in him but his smile and spirit still shone through. Being so far away from them we really appreciated being able to share in those intimate family moments.

paddyann Sat 13-Apr-19 13:07:51

Jane10 my post was for grannyknot who found the "born sleeping" video distasteful .

Jane10 Sat 13-Apr-19 13:31:43

I do get that paddyann. Photos and mementos for family are completely understandable.
I remember once visiting a work colleague who had recently had a stillbirth under awful circumstances. I was very struck by the photograph of the baby. He looked very peaceful and the picture was on a little table with flowers round it and a candle. It was clearly very important to his parents. I'm sure that extreme sensitivity is required by professional photographers in such situations. You must be uniquely qualified to carry out this last service for bereaved parents. thanks

rosecarmel Sat 13-Apr-19 13:47:51

Death - Different cultures and beliefs process it differently - I imagine if some unknowing soul walked into the catacombs of Palermo they'd be taken aback, too - Just as I was when my sister sent me unsolicited images on my phone or our dying sister without her permission or mine -

My sister has been, by choice, in a caretaker position for quite some time - She isn't immune to people's feelings, but I suppose has become accustomed to being around sickness, aging and death -

Yet she herself wouldn't leave the house without being fully put together, hair, makeup, clothes -

Everyone is different? I guess?

sodapop Sat 13-Apr-19 13:51:31

I agree Oldwoman70 two different things.

rosecarmel Sat 13-Apr-19 13:56:46

My nephew shared a photo on social media of himself, his sister and my dying brother between them - Both niece and nephew wearing big smiles, my brothers expression was one of side wide-eyed disbelief - He died within hours of the photo being taken, no idea if he gave permission or didn't -

To each their own ..

B9exchange Sat 13-Apr-19 16:08:09

I am appalled by this. Photos and images of individuals may be classified as personal data and are therefore regulated by the Data Protection Act 1998. If the image can be used to identify someone and tell you something about them it is likely that the Information Commissioner will consider it to be personal data, and therefore it is illegal to share it online without that person's permission.

An Alzheimer's patient who is dying is certainly not able to give consent. Is there any one of us here who would want their photo shared without their knowledge or consent in this situation?

Sara65 Sat 13-Apr-19 16:31:42

I certainly hope no one is unkind enough to take a photo of me during my last hours, dying isn’t a spectator sport, I can’t believe anyone would even think about whipping out their phone, and snapping a few photos at such a time!

Baggs Sat 13-Apr-19 17:09:54

Why is it a "pity" that some people want to share every moment of their lives, auntieflo? We are social animals, after all.

What harm did the photo you mention do, and to whom, do you think, jane10? I can't think of any harm it could have done so I'm wondering what there is to object about? I guess I'm arguing for freedom of choice. I don't know if I would choose to do that but I don't think it disrespects or harms anyone. Have we got too precious about seeing dying or dead people?

sodapop Sat 13-Apr-19 17:17:05

I think some things should remain private Baggs or stay within the family group.
For me its not about seeing a dying person but about allowing that person dignity and respect. Sharing such a picture on social media does not do that in my opinion.

Sara65 Sat 13-Apr-19 17:20:41

The dying person doesn’t seem to have any freedom of choice! And if you for whatever reason want to take a photo of your dying loved one, for goodness sake keep it to yourself, give the poor person some dignity in their last hours

Jane10 Sat 13-Apr-19 18:21:49

Baggs that poor woman had no choice. I was outraged and upset on her behalf. Making a public spectacle of her Gran at her most vulnerable appalled me as I think it must appal any person with a scrap of sensitivity.

Baggs Sat 13-Apr-19 18:22:03

Thank you for the reply, sodapop. I do get it, at least in part, but "curled up on a bed apparently sleeping" does not strike me as in any way undignified, nor does sharing such a picture strike me as necessarily disrespectful, even though I probably wouldn't do it myself.

In short, I can take it in my stride as someone else's choice that I don't need to feel shocked about.

Baggs Sat 13-Apr-19 18:25:59

Yes, jane10, I understand that the grandma had no choice in the matter and that people find this significant. My own feeling is that if I was close to death or already dead, it wouldn't matter. I realise this is probably not a common view.

I suppose it's similar to not caring what happens to one's body after death. I don't. I've told my daughters they can feed me to vultures for all I care. They are not shocked by that since they know me and know it is true.