Fine Art Photographer and Writer Polly Gaillard is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From her project ‘December And Everything After‘. To see Polly’s portfolios click on any image.
December and Everything After is a project about my aging parents, and more recently, about the steady decline in my mother’s health since she was diagnosed with a slow growing abdominal sarcoma in 2014.
Over the last five years, my mother had a stroke that exacerbated her dementia, she had a compound fracture to her wrist that never healed appropriately, she had a hip fracture and rods installed for hip support, and finally, she was diagnosed with cancer. She was too weak for surgery or treatment for the cancer, so my parents opted for hospice, opioids and a healthcare worker. It has been a constant rain and slow flood of health issues for mom over the past four years.
After her cancer diagnosis and her extreme mental and physical decline, I had conflicting feelings trying to photograph my mother. It felt like an invasion of privacy, it made me question my own ethics about exploitation, and it made we wonder why the suffering of my mother was something I wanted to remember through imagery. Wasn’t it enough to witness it with my own eyes?
Recently, I made a conscious decision to pick up the camera and expose my mother’s suffering for what it is, a tragedy. I’ve come to see the necessity in dialogues about end of life issues, assisted suicide, and the sad state of affairs in healthcare for the elderly. I’ve decided to share the imagery in an effort to question human suffering at the end of life, is it necessity, pointless or cruel? Obviously, I’m clearly trying to reconcile it through the camera.
By Polly Gaillard