Sunday, October 18, 2009

O! If I Could Only Have Kept Her

This unusual real photo postcard, purchased at an antique mall in Lubbock, Texas in 1993, poignantly conveys a mother’s pain at the loss of her child. Only rarely do I run across a postmortem photograph with contemporary historical information on the reverse that documents the depth of feeling and details of the photographic sitting that we find here. The reverse is stamped “Curtis C. Benedict, Mitchell, Iowa” and the following is written there: “Selma Marie Donaghy Born [and] Died Aug 16, 1911. O! if I could only have kept her./Ma and Pa./It just makes me sick to look at this dear little thing. Don’t you think she has an awful distressed look on her face. It must be because they worked so hard to get it.” This card was apparently sent to the grandparents, so they could see the little baby that had been lost. The mother commented on how difficult it was for the photographer to get the deceased baby posed. Even though she knew her baby was gone, she attributes the look on Selma’s face to the discomfort she endured during the photographic process. God bless little Selma with the distressed look on her face - and God bless her mother, who could not keep her.
© 2009, copyright Stephen Mills


  1. Welcome Stephen to The Graveyard Rabbits! Are you familiar with the "Meet A Rabbit" column I do for the GYRs? If not, it is a column that spotlights a members and their blog. I would like for you to have your turn in the spotlight. If you are interested, please email me at:

    Sheri Fenley

  2. Hi Stephen, Our family too, has similar postcards of deceased babies. As a matter of fact, it's become tradition to take one last picture of our deceased family members before the casket lid is closed. Death is a part of life; a funeral is one last celebration of the life of our deceased loved one. We've had as many people tell us we're morbid as those who have thought it's a very loving idea. I've enjoyed your blog so far! Keep up the good work.

  3. Karen, thanks for sharing and reading - stay tuned, there's more to come! Stephen