Our family recently navigated the challenging waters of watching a loved one die. My father passed away at the age of 77 after a short battle with lung cancer. His last days in home hospice care were relatively peaceful and pain-free, for which we are grateful.
In his final days, as he grew less and less responsive, we invited close family and friends to visit and sit with my father one last time. Some sat quietly, others cried, many prayed. I asked all our visitors for their permission to take a picture with my father’s hand in theirs. All agreed.
My dad was many things to many people. It meant a great deal to us to have him at home in his final hours. Sitting with him gave us time to grieve, remember, and reflect. It also took some of the mystery and fear out of dying.
I displayed twenty hand photographs like the ones above at my father’s memorial service, and then gave the photos as gifts to the thirty or more family or friends portrayed in the images.
I encourage other families who are facing the death of a loved one to consider taking a few simple photographs. My family has found that these pictures can help us process the sadness move us toward healing.