Tag Archives: child

Death in the Media

In the era of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram it seems as though images are constantly being uploaded, shared, and “liked.”  While most publicly shared photos are flattering selfies or snapshots of kittens and babies, they occasionally showcase a darker subject matter—death.

Two weeks ago a photo went viral. In this photo, the lifeless body of a little Syrian boy, later identified as 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, is pictured facedown in the sand of a Turkish beach, his small Velcro shoes still strapped to his feet. Aylan and his family had been traveling to Greece in order to flee the civil unrest in Turkey when the boat they were on capsized, killing several passengers including Aylan, his older brother, and their mother.  Their bodies were later found and  the infamous image of Aylan’s was captured by photographer Nilulfer Demir, so to “make his scream heard.”

Water color version of the now famous photo taken of Aylan Kurdi's body. Soruce: https://www.flickr.com/photos/robertsharp59/20635914503

Water color version of the now famous photo taken of Aylan Kurdi’s body. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/robertsharp

Although it has not been long, several news sites including The Wall Street Journal claim that this image will join a collection of photos, such as ones from the Great Depression and the Vietnam War, thought to have changed history. Both David Cameron and Manuel Valls, Prime Minsters of the United Kingdom and France respectively, have increased efforts to support and provide resources for refugees in response to this photo.  Why is it though, that despite the countless photos of Syrian refugees that have been published, this one has made such an impact? If I had to guess, the answer revolves around death, especially that of a young child.

In an article from NPR, Los Angeles Times editor Kim Murphy admits that she is usually hesitant to publish photographs of corpses but her take on this photo was different.  It is not violent or graphic, but rather heartbreaking in a way that makes people stop and think. I think the photo of Aylan poses a lot of questions about publishing images of death online and in the media.  Is there a benefit to displaying such images or is it insensitive?





Healing Spaces

Earlier this year our class read about the important role material items play in the grieving process for parents who miscarry or lose a child at birth. In these cases parents never get to spend real time with or form memories of the dead child, and the child does not live long enough to accumulate personal artifacts, so parents often rely on material objects to remind them of the child’s existence. But how does this role change when a parent loses an older child? Are the child’s possessions more important because they help fill the gap that is created from their death? Or are these possessions more painful because they are accompanied by memories of the child’s life?Toys

In a recent Huffington Post video “Creating Space to Heal: Mother Transforms Murdered Son’s Bedroom” Beth Dargis describes her cathartic experience of transforming her deceased son’s bedroom into a hang-out space for her daughter and her friends. For some reason I had always been under the impression that parents tended to keep their deceased children’s rooms relatively untouched after their death, and in so doing created a sort of shrine to the child. This video showed, however, that cleaning out her son’s room was a beneficial component of her grieving process and provided her with a way to let life go on and create new memories. Dargis cited the fact that her son would not have wanted a shrine for himself as one of the reasons behind the rooms transformation, which is interesting considering how often times the deceased’s wishes are ignored so that their loved ones can grieve in a way that benefits themselves. While she did get rid of most items from her son’s room, Dargis still kept a few important one and created a more miniature shrine in his honor.

This video made me wonder: in getting rid of material objects related to deceased children, are parents simultaneously getting rid of their child’s memory? Or do they not need these objects because they have memories of their child, whereas parents who miscarry do not?