It is easy to forget that among the sexy nurses, and goofy decorations that Halloween is one of the few times a year that we engage with the idea of death. While it is certainly a festive time, its origins spring as an offshoot of All Hallows or Hallowmas, a celebration of dead saints. Throughout the world people still bring flowers to the dead, spend time in the graveyard, clean their relatives bones, and generally interact with the dead.

This still comes through in small ways in our modern Americanized Halloween. The jack-o-lanterns we carve (originally turnips) were once meant to represent the souls of those in purgatory, and all the skulls, ghosts and zombies are in thier own jovial way, a form of memento mori, a reminder that we too will die. 

So when photographer Ash sent us this series of sad, fascinating, and frankly haunting photos he was working on, we felt like it was an appropriate time of year to share them. In the words of the artist:

We often overlook the small things. About 2 years ago I began to focus on rather small memento mori that were left to decay on the graves of children. A rare thing, I find a stuffed toy or doll on one grave in approximately every five graveyards. These exotic and delicate bits of moldy innocence tell a lifetime’s worth of stories in one simple moment.

Below are some selected photos from Ash’s series;

The rest of the series and Ash’s other work can be seen at