Death Dying and Madness: The story of Janice McHaffie

Death and Dying . Janice McHaffie.
Janice McHaffie showing her artwork during her art show at the Robert McLaughin Gallery.

A Durham Region artist thinks it is never too late to talk about death and dying.

Janice McHaffie, 60, is a graduate of Durham College’s fine arts program. She had an exhibition at Robert McLaughlin Gallery in January and February. The theme for her exhibit was on the process of dying. McHaffie says she painted portraits of death because she believes it is still a taboo subject people need to talk about.

“I believe people don’t talk enough about death and dying to remove some of the fear and the clutter of emotion behind it that can make us ill,” says McHaffie.

Even though McHaffie is an artist, she has also been a nurse at a nursing home where she had numerous experiences with death.

“I have worked for years in a nursing home and I have always thought what holds you to the earth and life are all the responsibilities you face,” says McHaffie.

McHaffie adds that her brother and his wife both have a terminal illness and what has made them persevere and stay alive is the responsibility they have towards each other.

What made McHaffie get into painting was a severe accident that happened to her in the year 2000. McHaffie says while staying at a hotel a light fixture hit her on the head. The head wound left McHaffie with a short term memory which affected  that influenced her career goals.

“I have had so many different jobs I never knew what I wanted to be when I grow up and the only thing that was consistent from childhood until now is that I want to learn everything there is that I have time to learn while I am here,” says McHaffie.

McHaffie added that how she got into painting was by writing down all the jobs she has done such as being cook, seamstress, waitress, and professional ballroom dancer. She says after asking God what she should be next,McHaffie said God told her to become an artist.