Today I am going to venture into a subject that is way off track from my usual thoughts about my marriage and my life story. But it is a topic that has gotten me thinking.
Yesterday a few people got very upset because my father-n-law posted a photograph of his mother, who suffers from dementia.
To be real honest I could not care less what any naysayers have to say about it, but just to be fair it was stuff like " she would be upset if she knew you posted this photo ", " Why not put a photo as she was when grandad was alive then, a happy, bubbly full of life lady who lived her life to the full, that's how grandma wants to be remembered. :)" and various comments about the photograph upsetting members of the family, the photo being disrespectful and instead of raising awareness of dementia by sharing a photo why not get involved in fundraising to help find medical solutions to this disease…
There were also supportive comments from family who were happy to see a photograph of a grandmother or greatgrandmother that they do not get to visit as often as they would like. And a few people who understood my father-n-law's reasoning for posting an image of his mother in order to show how devistating and life altering dementia is when it takes over your life.
My stance is that first of all it is his mother, he can share images of her if he chooses to do so.
Second of all, why is it that if a person is suffering and even dying from cancer and someone photographs the difficult time that the person and their family endures due to cancer, then for the most part people tend to find the photo journal to be moving and touching and worthy of awareness. Much like the above photo of my dad just days before cancer took him from us.
People also tend to support photographic documentries about poverty, drug use, homelessness, war and gangs, as if documenting a visual record of these desperate and painful facts of life may some how help mankind to be understanding, supportive and proactive.
But start photographing the struggle of a person with dementia and it is disrespectful and undignified and what a terrible thing to do? Is this because cancer attacks the physical body where dementia attacks the mind?
Do people cringe at facing a disease that takes away a person's ability to make decisions and remember who they are because of the mental health aspect of the disease?
Is it so hard to understand that a disease is a disease, it does not matter if the disease is physically destroying your body or destroying your mind, the end result is the same. Life becomes a struggle for the afflicted and their family, helplessness looms over everyone's head and unjustified guilt weighs heavy on the hearts of the people who live daily with the reality of the life they are handed.
So why is it OK to photography other diseases but not diseases that attack and destroy the mind?
Besides all of that, how is it that one person's idea of the appropriate way to deal with troubling life issues is supposed to help heal everyone? Do we as humans not understand that we are all unique? We each have individual ways of coping, healing, greiving and expressing ourselves. So if your way of getting through the difficult and painful reality of a loved one suffering is to get involved in fund raising…good for you, your coping skill is easily implemented withsome hard work and dedication; but what about those of us who are not " fund raising " types of people? What if we express ourselves with art… paint, charcoal, basket weaving, sewing, writing ,photograph, music ect…
Why is it wrong for someone to express their selves and the pain and struggle they are dealing with via a photograph? Would a sad song written about the same person be more dignified and acceptable? What a quilt made of the loved ones old clothes? Do you think dementia fundraising is possible without photographs?
An artistic, creative person will almost always turn to their form of art/creativity in order to cope with difficult situations and express themselves. So go join the local fundraising organization, go for a lot of long walks, write a journal…do what ever it takes to cope with your life and struggles and let those who cope differently than you do, deal with life the best way they can in the manner in which they find the most healing.
A few people who have chosen to cope with dementia via photography: