Saturday, May 18, 2013

Victorian Bereavement Memorial Pictures

Hello There,

 A few years ago, I became intrigued by something that I discovered quite by accident. I mention them here because I thought it was very strange, but actually began to understand how it was done because of transportation issues.

In Victorian days, in Europe and America, when someone in the family passed away, they were usually "on display" in the family home, not at a funeral home. Visitors were usually received at the house to remember the loved one and to give their condolences. Also due to lack of modern day preservation techniques, the loved one's body couldn't be preserved long enough to "wait" for people to arrive. If someone passed away communication wasn't as easy because even when telephones became available, it was something owned by the rich. Most people didn't have phones after they were invented.   Letter writing and telegraph were the major forms of long distance communication. Traveling also was not as easy as hopping on a plane and being somewhere in a few short hours. There were horse-drawn carriages, trains mainly as the transportation. These certainly weren't as fast as airplanes or such as hopping in the car (our modern day kind!).   If someone passed away, a relative who was some distance away couldn't get there so easily.  With another new technology though, people were able to honor, remember, memorialize and share the loved one's image in a memorable and loving way with the relatives who can only arrive after the funeral.  This would be photography.

Photography being expensive, not as convenient as today, and also a fairly young technology, made it special. During Victorian times, people dressed up for photos in their best outfits. It was like sitting for a painting almost, except for a brief period.  Portraits and an emphasis on placed on strong family sentiment in the culture of the day made it a special way to memorialize and honor the deceased.  After one passed on, the person would often be clothed in their best and posed in position surrounded by family in a very loving manner.  Many families lost a high number of children due to lack of the modern medicine that we have today. The loss of life happened much more often compared to modern day. Unfortunately death was even more of a part of their life. These traditions were more common to their lifestyle because more things centered around the home.

Doctors came to the house.  Many things were delivered to the house such as different types of food, ice, milk. Things were also sold by traveling salesman. The family didn't run to the market all the time. People didn't go out for entertainment as much as we do. Families would play games, work on crafts, read, write, among other types of entertainment, which took place inside the home. Other traditions and rituals such those that surrounded life events such as holidays, birth celebrations, wedding parties, and the rituals of celebrating one's life after his or her death were focused on in the home.

Here is a sweet loving video of these types of photos with some loving music. I chose not to include some of these types of photos here out of sensitivity to those who might not want to see it.  You can also google or search on You Tube for more of this type of thing. I chose to share a brief one on children.  It's easy to see the love and preparation they put into making these as a memorial tribute to their lost loved one. 

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