A New Grief Project

The other day I was having a chat with a fellow widowed friend, and I shared an idea I had for a project about grief. As we discussed, the energy started to build around it. We began imagining this powerful version of it displayed in hospitals, galleries, or a book. The more we talked, the more clearly I could envision this idea. And I don’t usually share these ideas publicly so early on, but it’s what I feel really pulled to share about this morning.

The idea originated with my self portrait photographs I did in 2014 (shown in the photos with this post)… capturing my own grief story in photos was such a powerful experience. Once I wrapped up that project, I couldn’t help but wonder what it might be like to photograph others too. To capture them and their stories and their lives of living with grief. To capture all that it means to be grieving, from the loving moments and joyful newfound connections to the pain and despair. Showing people of all ages and types simply going through their own private experience of grief, and being there in the background to document moments of it. Being there to have conversations with them about all the many aspects of grief, and of the person they love as well. What I imagine this to be in whole is a collection of photographs and stories that documents grief in a way that unifies us all...

Just imagine standing in a room filled with photos and stories of other souls, all who have been through a major loss in their life. Imagine how varied these images might be, and also, how similar. Imagine the feeling of those I have photographed - knowing their love and their story has been captured and honored. Imagine the feeling for viewers... a feeling of deep honor for any person who chooses to love, knowing that to love means to risk the pain of death. These are the fantastic-ordinary stories of bravery that go so unnoticed in our society today but have so much power. Our stories. Everyone's stories. Simply choosing love.

I’ve never done a project like this. It’s an incredibly vulnerable sort of thing to do. I take it very seriously to be allowed in to other people’s lives during a time when they are so fragile to document and share their stories. It’s something I’ll need to sit with for a while I think… but it’s also something I want to be open about, because I don’t want my own fear of doing something new and outside my comfort zone to get in the way. I want to birth this project. I want to explore what this kind of project could mean to the subjects I work with and to the public. Although it feels scary to share such a big and new and vulnerable thing outwardly, I’m taking the chance today to share in this space with all of you who have meant so much to me on my grief journey thus far.

I’d love to know your thoughts or feelings about the idea too. Feel free to leave me a comment and share what you think!

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  • April
    commented 2018-10-02 14:06:08 -0700
    Sarah, it sounds like an amazing idea!
  • Diane Taylor
    commented 2018-10-02 04:08:40 -0700
    Hi Sarah oh my this sounds like an amazing project. I am not a widow – but a am a grieving mother who lost her only child 6 years ago (in 2012). Would this project be for just widows or all who have lost someone dear to them? Every day I wear a “mask” in public to hide my feelings. I smile and laugh and try to be positive. But those moments when I am vulnerable and raw are the ones I wish people could see sometimes. I can’t wait to hear more about your project!!!!

    Diane from Baltimore MD