burial, funeral, cortege, clandon wood

A cruel world

Sometimes life can be ever so cruel.

My last post was published on January 26. A fairly mundane article about the cameras I have owned, I chose to title it “So Long Old Friend”. The following day, the 27th, quite unexpectedly one of my closest friends dropped down dead.

I spoke with him often about the idea of photographing funerals, and he had agreed that in this country our relationship with the death of friends and family is too introspective and not celebratory enough. He thought it was something I should push.

In honour of him, I photographed his funeral, and the response of his family and friends has been overwhelming. It is perhaps best summed up by his oldest friend, Connal. The two had been friends from the age of 6, and Neil was 51 when he died. Connal wrote to me yesterday:

Thank you for your incredible photograph. You found beauty and grace beneath a flat grey sky and captured all that was special about a day of sadness and love. Neil always said you were a brilliant photographer and he was right.

So long old friend.

burial, funeral, cortege, clandon wood
The mourners follow Neil to his last resting place at Clandon Wood. February 15, 2013.
Photo: © Michael Cockerham 2013

2 responses to “A cruel world”

  1. Nicky avatar

    Where are you now?

    I see you pass my way
    And then goodbye, without a wave
    A flourish or handshake
    You go onward on a path
    To a new place,
    To rest and wait
    We can’t see you, where are you?

  2. Kim and Julian O'Donnell avatar
    Kim and Julian O’Donnell

    Michael, when Nicky mentioned you had taken the photos of our dear sweet friend Neil’s funeral we knew you would capture the spirit of it since we longed to be there in the moment with you all. We look forward to seeing more pictures and wish we were closer in times like these. You have a beautiful eye for telling a story and we will always cherish the fun times with everyone at our wedding. We have those fantastic pictures to look back at fond memories, thanks to you. We miss you all and look forward to catching up next time we are in town with Luke (who is now 4!) and our daughter Emma (5 months old). -Kim

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