If I knew then what I know now…funeral client says thanks

By , November 15, 2010 9:45 am

I had a phone call late on Sunday afternoon.  I nearly didn’t take the call, as I was half asleep and the mobile was upstairs, but I bounded up to grab it before the caller hung up.  It was from Susan, the daughter of my late dad’s old regimental army buddy Dennis.  I photographed his funeral for her 18 months ago, creating a DVD to watch if and when she felt up to it, and also creating a photographic book for her family to keep.

At the time of Dennis’ funeral, Susan was a little distant; (perfectly understandable, funerals are very stressful) and although she wrote me a lovely note at the time, I felt that she didn’t have any intention of looking at the book, or the DVD.  That’s ok, we all come to things at different times.  She may have never wanted to look at either, but if she changes her mind, it’s always there for her, quietly waiting.  I am archiving her family history.

Anyway, she told me that “the whole idea of you photographing my father’s funeral didn’t sit well with her at the time, but now that 18 months have passed, she now looks at the album each week.” 

I love to look at the album, thankyou so much Patty.

“If I knew then what I know now, it would be so different” and then she went to apologise to me for being a bit stand offish to me at the time.  I’m a little used to this, I know I am the devil’s advocate sometimes, as I am sure some members of the families think “why would we want images of this?  Why do we want to remember a most painful day of our life? Why take photos at a funeral?”

Obviously I am at a certain funeral because other members of the family do want me there, and so I try to become invisible, not intrude on their grief, not to cry myself (but some days I do wipe a soft tear away, I am human too) and I always have to capture all the special moments of each Service.  The heads bowed in respect, the Poppy Tributes, the signing of the Condolences Book and so on. 

A long life well lived is a sad funeral, but not necessarily a tragic one. The family usually gather and regroup, and honour their darling beloved one, and share his wonderful life.  I love funerals like this, and I love to learn new things about someone I though I knew…for example Dennis was a great dancer, and loved to have friends around each weekend, pushing the lounge room furniture to one side, covering the floor with pops, and spending a few dreamy hours waltzing their wives around, arm in arm.  Such a beautiful memory.

Anyway, Susan tells me on my phone that she “loves to look at the album” and appreciated my taking photos of ‘the old RSL men, and the reunion buddies”.  I am so thrilled with her call I can only smile and thank her.

She tells me she hesitated in ringing me, but thought that she should, as she and her whole family just love the album so much, and really value it now.  From what I gather, they haven’t yet watched the DVD, but that’s ok, each to their own, and in time, who knows?  It’s there for them, when they are ready. 

I hang up and feel validated, and valued.  Thanks Susan for your call, it made my day.  I am so happy and pleased my work gives you and your family pleasure and memories.

~~~

I wrote about meeting Dennis here: Meeting Dennis

One Response to “If I knew then what I know now…funeral client says thanks”

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