A blog from your portrait photographer showing you behind the scenes images & information from current and past shoots, sharing laughs, inviting you to appreciate other artists, & more. We're going to talk about how I have created some images, my thought process, what I look for, styling, the effect of emotional trials, and combing over why this practice is so important.
Grief in Motion
noun (in Portuguese folk culture) a deep
emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or things that is abset:
the theme of saudad in literature and music.”
So this week's blog is going to be emotional. Sometime back, I found the above crazy word on
Pinterest somewhere among one of my pinning binges. Just
this morning I saw a post on Facebook from someone dealing with a serious
bought of grief & it scratched the surface of a wound. As almost anyone
that knows me is aware, I lost my mom in 2016.It destroyed me. She wasn’t old
or sickly or brittle. She was strong and vibrant and silly and so loving and
losing her suddenly was unexplainably difficult.
Early in the year she fell
sick with flu like symptoms and lost 10 lbs. (she was already a tiny person). My
dad became concerned, but she didn’t. She was never one to worry, especially
about herself. Then we attended the Strawberry Festival about 6 wks later and
she took my youngest to the toddler rides and got lost. It may sound like no
big deal, but this was a woman of the woods. She was never lost, especially at
some festival with a couple of rows of rides. I was terrified because I knew
something was wrong. Really wrong.
A couple of more months passed and she could hardly get off of the couch. Dad took the phone one day
when I called and let me know he made her a doctors appointment because she could hardly change her clothes. I prayed. I prayed and I bawled my eyes
out. They told her that her liver was swollen. A few days later she went
outside to tackle some project with her biddies (chicken lover) & when I
talked to her that evening, she couldn’t form words. It was like her mouth was
trying to jeopardize her. We got off the phone and later that night I was hot
on Google and came across stroke signs. Mom had a stroke. I called her at 1 a.m.
and begged her to go to a hospital. I had to guilt trip the woman. Dad took her
and they transferred her an hour out of town. I was on the phone every day
losing my mind (I live over 2 hrs from the hospital). I was on the phone and she was alone when the doctor came in to
ask about past stomach surgeries. My heart sank. I knew why he was asking. I
had already found it in my research. Stomach surgery can lead to pancreatic
cancer. He confirmed it shortly thereafter.
She went home after a week
and returned for her first round of chemo. Dad wouldn’t let her refuse the
chemo. But when they arrived at the doctor’s office, they were informed that it
was too late. She had, perhaps, weeks left. Dad wouldn’t let me visit. I
had small hyper children and mom was exhausted. He was looking out for her
rest. But I was an absolute disaster and I couldn’t see her. She couldn’t talk
like she did before the stroke. She recovered insanely well with her speech and
texting, but it was never 100%. We got 2 wks. 2 weeks after the diagnosis. That
was it. She had the stroke on my oldest son’s birthday, June 14th and was
gone July 7th. I sit here in tears typing this.
I know it’s insane to share
something like this with the internet, but this morning I saw my friend’s post
and it made me realize how important it is to share the less than
wonderful feelings. People hate being alone with dark and difficult feelings.
Grief will leave you grasping at straws trying to hold onto your loved one.
Half of you will fight to move on and the other half is diving into the abyss.
People try to be supportive and tell you it gets better, or reassure you with
“it’ll be okay”. The truth is, those words do not help your battle and they are
I tried to focus on what made
my loss so hard. I realized it was because #1 –it was my second hard hitting
loss. I lost my little brother when he was 17 yrs & I was 20 yrs old. He was
friend and my mom had kind of slid into his place. And #2 – because the
relationship I had with my mom was so amazingly strong. We were best friends.
Like soul mate stuff. If I wasn’t on the phone with her, I was texting her all
kinds of things: pretty things, funny things, questions about poisonous plants,
craft ideas, etc. She was my go to. But how lucky was I to have had a
relationship like that?
That kind of love is special
and it deserves to be memorialized and celebrated. I used it to start a series
of images I call Grief in Motion. It was to help me & others by showing all of the waves of emotion grief brings. I refused to lie
down and be defeated by it. That would be such a waste of my gifts and so
disappointing to my mom. I needed to express myself for myself and the entire
world. Pictures really do translate what words cannot.It didn’t happen right away, but about 2 yrs
later I started to find my spark again.
The image above is called
“The Visitor” & is actually a self portrait. The skirt is a red tulle skirt
that I ordered for my mom. She was going to sit for me and never had the chance.
It came in just before she went to the hospital. The light is behind me for a
silhouette effect, which represents me as a shadow form. Pretty much how I
felt. They (whoever they are) say cardinals are a sign our lost loved ones are near
and some say they are our loved ones visiting; so I added a red bird to my
finger as my visitor. It’s very simple but very emotional. It’s still one of my
favorite images because it’s very connected to the journey through my loss and
embodies so much of what I’ve felt.
This one is called The
Ascent. It is about flying high and losing your wings. Our subject has gained
claws, in place of the wings she lost, for climbing her way out of that deep hole of
sadness. About not being consumed and buried. Not necessarily getting to the
top of a mountain and leaving it behind, but creating tools or methods to get
through the darkness & find some light again. She can never return to her previous form, but has developed because of the experience. It’s impossible to see this
outcome when grief first strikes. If sharing these images and feelings makes
that road a smidgen easier to see for anyone else, then my time was well
The above image remains untitled. I captured it on my vacation to the Smokies
last summer. Panic attacks had been a recurring thing for me for a while. On
the 1 yr anniversary of mom’s passing, I had a major one and it scared me to
death. So with that second anniversary approaching, I wanted to get out of town
and stay busy. So I planned our family trip during that time. I saw so many
things I haven’t seen before; things that were special. Our last day was spent
driving through the National Park and I saw this scene and knew mom was with
me. I know this is mom.
We normally don't share posts like this. Not when they're personal. We like to present this package of sunshine and rainbows and blow over the cloudy stuff in private. I think it's important not to air out your dirty laundry publicly, but I don't think it's necessary to pull the curtain over the rest of the undesirables. Negative feelings are real and we all have them. It can't hurt to reach out and connect with others experiencing similar emotions. Just maybe holding hands through the darkness can bring us all to the light. To return to my website, click here: Eye Candy by Karmen