In the 19th century and early 20th century photographs of the dead were common and most were carte de visites sized so that the relatives could take the photographs with them or send them to friends and relatives. I believe the most important aspect was to have ones loved ones close by even though they passed away.and that those photographs were very comforting for the surviving family members. Wife, Husband, Mother, etc... the difference to today is that the dead were posed as if they were alive. Didn't some famous French philosopher, probably Roland Barthes, say that all photographs basically depicted death.