When you lose a parter, you lose your sanctuary in a very real way. The person you used to go to with your most vulnerable feelings, daily stresses, irrational fears, crazy hopes, ridiculous doubts and horrible secrets is no longer there. You have lost your home and all the safety, warmth and encouragement that came with it. I personally don’t think there is any more debilitating trauma than to lose our sanctuary – whether it be a parent, partner, child, sibling, or best friend.
For my fiancé and I, our home was very much each other. We were deeply bonded. The space between us was sacred – a sanctuary where each of us was protected, loved, and accepted above all else. This was the core of what we shared, and in this, we were home. Nothing has ever made me feel as vulnerable, lost, scared, sad, hopeless, tired and in danger as losing the sanctuary we so carefully and lovingly built together.
I once read a quote that said “The thing with feelings, is to make it safe to feel them all”, and that is what a sanctuary is for. A large part of this “after” life now is about learning to recreate this space in a new way. As it turns out, building the nest for this image was just as powerful as the end moments of laying down inside the curves of it. I was reminded that a sanctuary must be created – piece by piece. That it takes times, and that one must carefully select only the most loving people, encouraging thoughts, and inspiring things to build it with.
Even though my sanctuary now is very different from the one he and I built together, parts of him still surround me there… and it is still the place where all of me is safe and nurtured. For me, this image is a reminder for those times when I am impatient with myself or I begin to feel lost, angry, or scared. In those moments, I am learning now to step back into the gentle womb of my new sanctuary, breathe deep, and allow myself to rest safety until I am restored.
About the Series: Through 40 weekly photos and accompanying essays, 'Still, Life' captures a deeply emotional and psychological journey of what it means to grieve, to heal, and to live on.