Windsor

Funeral selfies an evolution of age-old tradition

Funeral directors in Windsor are seeing an uptick in the number of people taking selfies with their dead family members, but taking photos with corpses dates back to 1900's.

Taking photos with the dead has been part of people's grieving for hundreds of years

Funeral selfies are becoming a popular trend as people pose with dead family members and post images on social media. (Kiel.1/instagram)

Funeral directors in Windsor are seeing an uptick in the number of people taking selfies with their dead family members and posting it to social media.

In Quebec, funeral directors are trying to restrict the number of selfies being posted online with the province wanting to educate people about what is respectful behaviour at a funeral parlour.

But snapping a final photo with a corpse has been a common grieving practise dating back to the 1900's, according to funeral directors in Ontario, who say taking photos with the dead has been part of people's grieving for hundreds of years.

Alfred Whaley's funeral in Leamington, November 2016. (Provided to CBC)

"It was just sort of an every day thing, where people would do that," said Sherri Tovell, managing funeral director with Families First in Windsor.

Capturing a final photo dates back to when funerals were held in people's homes, she explained.

"It was more of a social gathering," Tovell said. "It just made sense that you would take pictures of them, their last time in their suit, in their chair."

A group photo at a home in Leamington, 1958.

Once funeral homes became more common, Tovell said fewer people took pictures. She said that's likely because funeral homes are a more formal setting.

The tradition continues

Even still, some families have continued with the tradition as an important part of their grieving process.

"I guess it makes it more real," said Lieta Vines who has several photos with dead family members.

"When you don't expect someone to pass, you go through the motions of it all and you can't believe its truly happened," she said. "Later on you look at the pictures and it brings the realization forward."

George Janzer funeral, in Horizon Saskatchewan, 1935 (Provided to CBC)

The 83-year-old occasionally pulls out the photos of her late husband, her mother and her dad lying in their casket to remember the final day she saw them.

"Which maybe sounds morbid to some people, but being of an ethnic background, I'm sure anybody that's ethnic would understand," she said referring to her Russian background.

Photos aren't only used for the family members who attend the funeral to grieve. Funeral directors said the photos are being sent to people who aren't able to attend the visitation.

"They need to see the deceased there," said Tovell. "By seeing the person, it makes it evidently clear to our heart."