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Grief has NO timeline

In a world which is so image-centric, it’s easy to disassociate oneself from tragedy. We are constantly bombarded with images that depict the hurt and pain in our world - from natural disasters in Puerto Rico to the terror in Las Vegas. And after viewing them for so long, it’s all too easy to become numb.

How much harder is it, I think, for those tragedies that go unbroadcasted? For those tragedies that tend to affect singular units, like families, rather than large swaths of people.

As a photographer, my heart is drawn to one of these in particular - infant loss.

It is often heard that 1 in 4 women are affected by miscarriage, when actually it is 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That is a lot of loss, that effects women and so many men and other family members not covered by this statistic.

It seems that most everyone knows of someone who has experienced loss of this kind in some form. Perhaps it was a sister, an uncle, a grand-daughter, a work acquaintance, an old school bud, or a best friend. The loss may have been a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or a death that took place shortly after birth.

In those times, it’s hard to find words. And it’s hard to understand.

(And truthfully, those of us who know this type of loss intimately would never wish that understanding upon you.)

And so often, in attempting to find the words, we stumble and stagger, hoping we eventually convey the ‘right thing.’

As a photographer, I walk a path that commonly intersects with both of these individuals - those that are attempting to understand, and those who are trying to be understood.

And the following photoshoot—in honor of Infant Loss Awareness Day on Oct. 15, and all the families who’ve walked the path of infant loss—was my attempt to bring these two individuals together in a meaningful dialogue.

The photoshoot itself was incredibly special. The skies were cloudy and overcast, letting down a light drizzle.

Nearly thirty women gathered together. Older and younger, chipper and weary, child-full or childless—the crowd was amazingly diverse. Yet, I was amazed by the humble courage and bravery these women all shared.

Each woman wrote down one statement that they felt they wanted to communicate about their loss. How incredibly moving it was to watch them write and share with each other.

While their statements speak for themselves, common themes began to emerge. I found three things that were expressed over and over again:

My child has significance.

I want to you to remember my child, too.

I cannot, nor will not, ‘get over it.’

My dear pastor from my church came along to speak to us about loss and hope. Loss happens for men as well. Men feel, hurt, and grieve. Just sometimes in a different way.

Please, take a moment and watch this video/look at these pictures. Explore the hearts of these amazing, war-torn, courageous women.

I hope these pictures open up and explain a little about the world of infant loss, which can for these women and their families seem so isolating and lonely. Additionally, I hope these pictures inspire you to find a way in which you can support these individuals on their grief journey.

With or without a child, it takes a village. <3

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