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Photographing the dying and what we can learn

The Seattle-based photographer and writer Caroline Catlin wrote a heartbreaking and beautiful piece for the New York Times about her work as a volunteer who photographs the last moments of the critically ill and their families.

There is no rule book about how to be an end of life photographer, she writes, but the goal is to document those fleeting moments of connection which occur in between the tubes, wires, medical orders and machines.

“When I am in those rooms, I am present with the sole goal of finding the moments within grief that feel the most gentle and human: Watching a mother brush the hair of her dying child, I was able to recognize the love and tenderness that accompanies us even in death. Listening to a child cry over the loss of his sister, and then get back up and start playing again next to her body, reminded me of the resilience we all carry with us, that my family and friends are capable of as well. They will also continue to live on if I die too soon. “

Although it is very sad to be on an end of life journey, that journey is often filled with beautiful, poignant, and cherished moments. Families often never know her name, and she never sees them again, despite being present for the worst moments of their lives. However, she gives them a gift they can cherish forever- images and memories.

As a 27 year old woman battling incurable brain cancer, she writes she hopes it is what someone would do for her and her loved ones.

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