Nyack, New York, US: A Red-bellied woodpecker perches on a suet feeder during a winter storm Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters (via 24 hours in pictures | News | guardian.co.uk)
Second portrait: March 10 2004
Beate felt that leaving her husband and children behind would be too difficult and painful if they were with her. At the moment of her death she was entirely alone — her husband was in the kitchen making a cup of coffee. He told me later that he was disappointed that he couldn’t be with her, holding her hand, but he knew this is what she had always said, that dying alone would be easier for her
This sombre series of portraits taken of people before and after they had died is a challenging and poignant study. The work by German photographer Walter Schels and his partner Beate Lakotta, who recorded interviews with the subjects in their final days, reveals much about dying - and living.
Life Before Death is at the Wellcome Collection from April 9-May 18