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Welcome to this week's issue of the Birthday Workbook! Today, we read an essay by Joan Leong, a professional photographer who volunteers with the organisation, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, to help parents photograph their babies who die at birth.

Please note that the issues discussed may be upsetting for some readers.

Her piece is from this year's Birthday Book, and if you haven't gotten a copy of it, you can do so here. You can also find a copy of the newly launched Birthday Book Junior: 20/20 here.

Before you read her essay, watch the following video. Please be aware that some of the images may be upsetting for viewers:

  • Why does the organisation Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep do what it does?
  • Why does the voiceover at the beginning say, "You may not want these now, but you will probably want them at some point in your life"?
  • Did the video change how you think about remembrance photography for babies?
Now read the following article:
Read on Today Online
Consider the following questions:
  1. Why do you think Joan begins by describing a phone call she might receive? What is the impact of this introduction on the reader?
  2. What is the effect of Joan discussing her own experience of having a sister who passed shortly after birth? Why, in her words, does her family hardly look at the picture they took together?
  3. How might society condition us to "hush a baby's death like it is something to hide"?
  4. Joan writes that awareness of what she does has grown over time in Singapore. How might this reflect how attitudes towards the death of a child in Singapore have changed over time?
  5. Apart from photographs, what do photographers provide to grieving parents that others might not?
  6. Joan only meets parents for a very short time. Yet, she sometimes keeps in touch with them and photographs other family milestones. Why do you think they keep in touch?
  7. Finally - why do Joan and her fellow volunteers typically shoot these photos in black and white? Would you?

Further resources
You can listen to Joan and other writers discuss this topic on The Birthday Collective's podcast, Collectively Speaking. Click here to listen to Episode 3: Family - Of Grief, Resilience & Transparency on Spotify.

That's all for this week! Stay safe, take care, and feel free to email us with your thoughts or feedback! 
© 2020 The Birthday Collective

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