Wednesday, June 3, 2015

End of Life Photography: Greg {Melissa Texas Hospice Photography}

I posted on Facebook last week about an upcoming birth I'm excited to be photographing for a client this Fall.  New life!  Capturing those moments?  It is beyond an honor.  During the last birth I photographed, I was moved to tears.

Such a tender moment!

I expect the tears will fall again this October.

The beginning of a life is truly beautiful - a scared moment.  The end - though oftentimes not as beautiful - is equally sacred.  These are moments that should be photographed as well.

Earlier this year I was honored to photograph such a moment for a very sweet family. 

With what she thought was merely weeks left for her adored step-dad to walk on this earth, Lauren contacted me and asked me if I could meet their family out at her mom and step-dad's house for one last family portrait session.

It was to be a celebration of a life lived well - one that was coming to an end sooner than expected.  We acknowledged the pain and loss that comes with having to say good-bye and celebrated the special time left to hold on to the loving relationships that had forged deeply over the course of a lifetime.

Nothing formal.

Nothing posed.

Just one small family being open and honest with their love for one another - and taking the time to express that love in a deep and profound way.

And, again, I found myself moved to tears...

{Watch the VIDEO here}

I had worked with Lauren and Richie before.  They traveled 2 hours for a creative portrait session with me a while back.  When we first met, I was immediately drawn to their friendly, down-to-earth and upbeat personalities.  As I got to know Lauren better through Facebook, I came to adore her quirky sense of humor and positive, up-beat outlook on life.  I had seen pictures of their cuter-than-cute daughter and was excited to finally be meeting her.

While I knew it would be great seeing them again, I wasn't prepared for what I was about to learn from them - lessons that I would take with me just one month later as my own mother-in-law was put on hospice.

Lauren, Richie and Corrine live 2 hours from her mother and step-father.  Yet every weekend they would make the drive to spend time with her step-dad who was dying from cancer - soaking up every ounce of precious time left with him that they could.  Both she and her husband work full time jobs.  That didn't matter!  They put aside their need for rest and relaxation, dropped everything and made that drive every single weekend.

Every.  Single.  Weekend.

To love on Lauren's mom - who was her step-dad's primary care-giver - and give her much needed respite from the long weeks of caring for her sweet-heart.

To fellowship with the man who had raised her as his own and poured his heart into her life - helping to make her the woman she is today.

To be together.

Lauren, Richie, and Corrine understood what is important in life.  They put their needs and desires aside and were completely selfless in how they loved on Lauren's mom and step-dad during those long last months.

And, I was honored to witness and photograph that love.

What an amazing gift!

And why wouldn't they show this kind of love?  They had the perfect examples.  For years they have been privileged to watch Lauren's mother, Beth, model this selfless love in how she cared for her husband throughout his various illnesses.  He was the love of her life.  Her soul mate.  And her actions proved that it was true!

And though he faced countless physical limitations, he faithfully loved on Lauren and gave her a fun-filled childhood. He was a rock she could count on.

How precious it was to listen to Lauren relive her childhood memories of her life on the ranch with her parents.

I have no doubt that Lauren and Richie were able to give so freely of themselves because of this love they had received and witnessed themselves over the years.  So, for months, they dropped their weekend plans, hopped in their car and drove for two hours to do whatever they could to bring joy into Beth and Greg's life. 

Was it hard?


Was it exhausting?


Was it rewarding?

Beyond what you could imagine.

How do I know?

Because I lived it too.  I, too, have cared for someone in their last, dying days.

The last entry on this blog is of Lauren and Richie's sweet Corrine.  In addition to our special session with Lauren's step-dad, we took a few moments to celebrate Corrine's big birthday.  If you notice, that was posted nearly 7 months ago.

I haven't blogged since then for a very good reason.

I, too, was called to care for a dying loved one.  My husband's mother had been suffering from Atypical Parkinson Disease for close to two years.  We moved her into an assisted living home - just two months before my session with Lauren and Richie's family.  By January, Steve's mom was bed-ridden.  The progression of her illness was so quick and so severe.  It was absolutely devastating.

For the last 40 days of her life, we loved on her and cared for her - much the same as Lauren and Richie and Beth had been doing for Greg for many months prior.

Watching my mother-in-law's physical body fade away was one of the most difficult experiences I have ever had to go through. And, I know this is true for Lauren, Richie, and Beth as well.

It's so very difficult to let go!  As the video from this session posted below will show.

I'm so very grateful I was able to witness the love and compassion Lauren and Richie had for Beth and Greg.  To see the sacrifices they were making on their behalf motivated me to want to serve my own mother-in-law with greater love and selflessness.

I adored this family before.  But, now, they will always have a very, very special place in my heart.  I'm so very blessed to have witnessed their love before I had to go through it myself.

Because it is hard!

It is beyond imaginable to sit by someone's bed side knowing there is nothing you can do to keep them from slipping away.

It is heartbreaking.

I'm so thankful, Greg had his family surrounding him during those times.  What an honor to witness their love.

So touching!

If you have a loved one who is in their last days, consider end-of-life photography as a living heritage you can leave for generations to come.

The video posted above is in honor of Greg and all the care givers out there who love and care for the dying.

May the dying find eternal rest.

And, may those left behind find comfort and peace in knowing that they have been loved well by their loved ones and that they in turn have loved their loved ones well.

Many Blessings,


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