Capture Your Grief Day 3: After Loss Self Portrait

There are many pictures of me after my loss and as I scrolled through the ones I have on this computer (many of my “after grief” shots got trapped on the old laptop that with everything else from that part of my life is broken and/or lost) I noticed a trend. It doesn’t matter if I took the picture or someone else did, if it was days after my loss or months or years. In most of the photos I’m smiling.

Don’t get me wrong, I have the heart wrenching ones where I’m streaming tears as I hold my lifeless daughter or the ones where my husband and I are huddled close in tears at her one-year-after-passing candle light ceremony. But for the most part, even the ones at her funeral where you can see I’ve been crying, I have a gentle, sad smile on my face.

I’m not pointing this out to toot my own horn. “Oh, I do so well with grief.” No, that’s not it at all. I point this out because looking back it kind of astonishes me to see so many smiles during a time I remember as the most painful agony I’ve ever endured. And not fake smiles, but genuine, gentle lines on my face. Even days after her passing I look years older though, that is something I notice with all the photos. The happy 22-year-old is replaced with a much older looking soul, but there is something behind my eyes – HOPE. I believe that is the tiny spark of life that can be seen. Even at my worst moment, my agony, my pain, my emptiness, in the midst of it all there was always a spark of hope.

From October 13, 2008 until today, that is the resounding theme in my loss of Skye. Hope. I see many other moms who have and are going through this and my heart aches for every one of them, but especially for the ones who describe life after their loss as hopeless and despairing. I am not a “preachy” person by any means, but I have to say, it behooves me to testify that the ONLY thing that got me through my loss and continues to bring me through is the grace of my Savior Jesus Christ. The hope that I will be with her again one day, in perfection, that is big, yes, but it doesn’t take away the pain of right now wanting her, to hold her, to love her physically in my arms. The only thing that has ever relieved the day-to-day grieving process we are left to carry on with here on Earth is the grace of Jesus by my side, every day, bearing the load that is far too heavy for anyone, especially me.

The picture I have chosen for this day was taken by my mom not long after I had buried my daughter. I want to say it was either late October or early November. Mom and I used to take walks in the woods and fields of beautiful Central Kentucky, crying and just trying to process what had happened. My life was as shattered as it could be at this point. ( refer to this post for details )

Yet I am struck by the smile on my face captured at this impromptu moment. I remember Mom wanted to snap a picture of me before the light was completely gone, she had said I looked so beautiful right at that moment and I thought she was nuts. I had been crying, it was cold and my face felt half-frozen from all the tears and nose running, I think it was her saying that I looked beautiful that helped me smile, out of the sheer insanity of how it sounded.

Day 3: After Loss Self Portrait
Less than a month after burying my precious girl. I marvel at the smile.

Before and after Loss. These images were taken with the same camera, and they are about 7 months apart.