Dealing with Grief through Photography
Everyone deals with grief and bereavement differently. For some people, it is a private journey that takes place almost entirely inside the heart and head. For others, mourning the loss of a loved one involves community, family, and as much outreach as possible. For still others, it is important to find a physical medium to commemorate a loved one.
No matter which style fits, photography can (and often does) play an important role in the process of grief. It makes sense—after all, almost everyone plays some kind of slide show at a funeral. Not only is it greatly moving to see images of the deceased throughout his or her life, but the act of sorting through the photos and recalling memories of your life together can be hugely therapeutic.
Photography is not just for the funeral, however. In the days, weeks, months, and even years that follow a loss, photography can be a continued source of comfort.
Scrapbooks and Albums
You don’t have to be good at taking pictures or have fancy equipment to explore grief through photography. In fact, if your family has an album or box of old photos, all you need is time. Whether you simply choose to look at the old photos, catalog them for future generations, place them in a nice album, or even turn them into a beautiful scrapbook, the benefits are the same. Each photo is an opportunity to recall a memory and to share it with others.
You are probably very familiar with most of the photos in your own collection, but what about all the pictures others have taken of the deceased over the years? Although photo-sharing sites like Facebook and Instagram have made it easier to tag photos and share them with the world, there’s still a good chance your friends and relatives have pictures you have never seen. By asking others to share their photos (either virtually or by mailing you their physical copies), you can keep the memory of your loved one alive in a big, shared way. This is an especially great way to spark conversations, share memories with others, and learn something you may not have known about the deceased.
Another great way to use photography for grief is to pick up the camera and take new photos. This can take a variety of different forms. You can take pictures of the gravesite and headstone, or the funeral flowers that were sent from loved ones. You can capture your feelings by snapping shots of the home and cherished items the deceased left behind. Or you can head out to their favorite destination or garden, soaking in the sights and experimenting with lighting, perspective and focus to create that perfect image.
By honoring your loved one through this kind of artistic expression, you may find new ways of dealing with your feelings. Along the way you may also discover a passion for photography that you’ll carry with you as you move forward through your grief.