This past week was a struggle for me both personally and creatively. My fiancé’s birthday was over the weekend, which means weeks of riding various emotional waves and traveling to new levels of grief I have not yet been to. It becomes hard for me to create photos when things feel very raw. For that, I often turn to painting or writing. But I had no choice but to push through, I won’t allow myself to skip a single week of this portrait project.
I’ve sat with this image actually for several weeks… mulling it over. Exploring what it means to me. Unsure even about sharing it, perhaps because I have needed to find my own meaning in it first. Often times I don’t have a plan when I go out and shoot, so it can take time before I begin to even know exactly what part of my myself and my grief I am diving into.
This image was certainly one of those, but it began to resonate with me this past week, with his birthday approaching. Those days and weeks leading up to a birthday, an anniversary, a holiday create a special kind of darkness when you have lost your partner, or anyone you loved very dearly. My mornings have been empty, hollow, filled with a vacant weight – not of nothing, but of even less than nothing, the loss of something. Someone. They are the days when you cannot want to get out of bed or eat or get to work or be awake or be asleep. Moments when you feel neither dead or alive, but hollow, and all-consumed by the darkness inside you as if it is bleeding right out of your skin. It is not a part I enjoy being in, nor a part I enjoy sharing particularly. But it IS.
This image is about seeing yourself still standing, even though you do not feel like you are there. Somehow, with all the pain, some part of you – of all of us – keeps standing. That is what I see here… a part of me that is beaten and broken, the part that is in such pain that it’s bleeding out darkness from her pores. And she is caught in a moment of showing it unapologetically. It is about facing life and truth head on – not because we want to but because we HAVE to, each day. It is about saying “This is me. This is what my darkness looks like. And I will not apologize for it or hide it away. I will be me, where I am, how I am, as I am.”
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.