Bereavement Photography, continued

NF: What do you think it is about this work that not only draws you to it, but also makes you able to continue to do it?

TH: I am drawn to do it, personally, I don't know exactly all of why. The power and meaning in my experiences resonate with me... I find that to be enough.

I've realized recently that the more I talk about this with people, the more pieces I discover. When my grandfather died 20 years ago, I found myself needing to create something... to memorialize him. So I went about collecting photographs that I had taken of him and photographs and personal objects belonging to him and put together a sculptural memory box that expressed how I felt. I look back on that and believe I was creating something to remember this point in time - in his life, but also in mine. Maybe my motivation today in making images for bereaved parents -- to contribute to family history, emotional history -- is the same.

I also find great satisfaction in the knowledge that my photographs provide direct therapeutic benefit to the very subjects of the images, grieving parents.

Here's the thing. I heard a talk by Ruth Bernhard just prior to beginning this work in 1997. She spoke of her path in photography, deciding early on to "listen for the little voices" and that they could come from anywhere to inform and direct her work. This notion has led me into exploring this bereavement photography work. Where it takes me I'm not sure. As long as I have a passion for it, and the spiritual connection is there, I'll keep photographing.


More Information

The Spring 2003 The Association for Death Education and Counseling's journal The Forum will contain a piece written by Hochberg. Ordering info at

On July 21, 2003, Hochberg will be a featured speaker as part of the National Center for Death Education Summer Series. "Touching Souls; Healing with Bereavement Photography" presented in conjunction with "Two Days with Robert Neimeyer, Ph.D." Info at

On September 16, 2003, Hochberg will present "Touching Souls" as a plenary session, The Beverly R. Rollnick Lecture, for the National Society of Genetic Counselors Annual Conference. Info at

A Broken Heart Still Beats--After Your Child Dies by A. McCracken & M. Semel. Hazelden, 1998.

Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby by D.L. Davis. Fulcrum, 1996.

Exploding into Life by D. Lynch & E. Richards. Aperture Foundation, 1986.

"Professional bereavement photographs: One aspect of a perinatal bereavement program." JOGNN, 23, 22-25. 1993. M. R. Primeau & C.K. Recht.

Secrets of the Dark Chamber-The Art of the American Daguerreotype by M. Foresta & J. Wood. National Museum of Art Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995.

Secure the Shadow-Death and Photography in America by J. Ruby. The MIT Press, 1995.

Sleeping Beauty- Memorial Photography in America by S. Burns. Twelvetrees Press, 1990.

The Tao of Photography-Seeing Beyond Seeing by P. Gross & S. Shapiro. Ten Speed Press, 2001.

Other Links


All photographs copyright © Todd Hochberg