A few years back I unfriended a schoolmate of mine on Facebook. The reason might seem very silly to you. But I was tired of seeing funeral pictures and videos of his grandmother. I am talking about a huge dump of photos and videos. Photos of the deceased person in the coffin, photos of relatives and acquaintances near the coffin, videos of people crying and so on. I have nothing against his grandmother, and I do wish her eternal peace. In fact, I would have loved to see her photos from when she was alive. But this! Hell no! I didn’t unfriend him for the first dump of pictures, even though it creeped me out big time. But by the third day of his adding more and more pictures and videos, I decided that I had had enough and hit the Unfriend button with zero remorse.
Sadly, this is a worrying trend that I have seen in a few communities in Kerala over the last so many years. No, this didn’t start with the pandemic. At the time of the pandemic, when people were stuck abroad and couldn’t attend their own parents’ funeral, I understood why people had to record videos, send photos or video call them, so that at least virtually, they got to be a part in bidding farewell to their loved ones. But this creepy trend started in Kerala much, much before the pandemic.
Even in the case of celebrity deaths, where clicking photos and airing videos by TV channels have been a regular thing considering their public reach, there once used to be a certain dignity in the way it was done – not anymore. I was grossed out by some of the pictures and videos shared by people online from a few recent celebrity deaths, all in the name of “love and respect.” I couldn’t understand how it was love or respect to put up clickbait posts to profit from someone’s death. Even if it isn’t about the number of likes, or any profit thereof, imagine doing the same to one’s own family. If people clicking selfies on cell phones wasn’t enough, there is a whole team hired to make sure that the dead person doesn’t get to rest in peace for a single minute until he/she is buried.
I don’t, in the first place, understand the point in clicking pictures of a corpse from every angle – almost as if they need as many options as possible, to select the best one, and do what??? Frame the picture and hang it on a wall? And I certainly don’t understand the mindset of people who pose with a corpse. It doesn’t matter if it’s your parent, or a distant relative – how do you pose with a dead person?? What exactly goes through the mind of someone who hires a photographer and a videographer at the funeral of a loved one, and gives them instructions to capture every single person who comes over, apparently to pay their respects to the deceased. Just like at a wedding, is this one’s way of keeping tabs on who all came to “ours,” so we know whether to go for “theirs”? Or is it, just like a wedding, another happy occasion to freeze in time, and look back upon from time to time? I mean, I just don’t understand. Do people revisit “funeral albums” like wedding albums? “I’m feeling all nostalgic today. Let’s go look at the pictures from our grandfather’s funeral!” How insane does that sound! Isn’t it equally insane that they have professionals in place at the funeral to create an album and a semi-movie in the first place?
I don’t know how many and who all will get offended reading this blog. And quite honestly, I don’t care. But there really is a place and a time for everything. And a funeral is most definitely not the place for a photoshoot. Those poor souls are gone, yes. But they still deserve every ounce of dignity as they did when they were alive. Putting up photo and video dumps on Facebook and Instagram with the caption “My grandmother’s funeral” is certainly not treating them with dignity or respecting the dead. And it is in no way, respecting the living aka the ones on your friends list, either.
Also published on Medium.