Culturally, we have a hard time with death. We tend to not appreciate being reminded of our own mortality. When loved ones pass away, we scour through photos to find pictures that capture what we feel was the essence of the person in their prime. However, that's only part of the story. It can be uncomfortable to be present and aware of the days and moments before death but that doesn't make them any less real.
For better or worse, celebrities and public figures feel like they belong to all of us. Even if we don't know them on a personal level, their existence and our relationships with them can act as a touchstone to bring people together.
We're not claiming that these photos are indeed the final photos of these beloved stars – some are disputed to be. We're simply attempting to demonstrate that death is a part of life.
1. Kenny Baker
The British actor, best known as R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise can be seen here at the Star Wars: Force Awakens premiere, months before he passed away in August 2016.
2. Tupac Shakur
This photo was taken just moments before Tupac was killed in the infamous drive-by in Las Vegas in 1996.
3. Martin Luther King Jr.
Seen here on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee, this is the very balcony where King was shot and killed by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968.
4. Vladimir Lenin
By the time of this photo, the former Soviet leader had suffered three strokes and had lost his ability to speak. He would pass away on January 21, 1924 from an "incurable disease of the blood vessels."
On the Next Page: Patrick Swayze, Steve Irwin, and more