Those Left Behind is my journey to understand the grief of my family members and I, after the death of my grandmother, their mother. I question what bonds keep us together as well as drive us to separate. My grandmother, Michal Louise Carney, was at the center of all our lives. She still is the center. Her death has shifted the dynamics of my family, one that I took for granted. It has changed how often we see each other, for how long, where, and in what context, and it has shifted the amount of effort it takes to get everyone together. Our connection has been fractured.
My work focuses on a struggle with loss, coping with grief, as well as the joys of being alive and the intimate moments spent with family. Those Left Behind not only shows the effects of death but also visualizes a celebration of life. In capturing those intimate moments with family, as ordinary as they may appear, there is a realization of unity, of togetherness that death may change but never fully take away.
It is our joys, and it is our pains that keep us together, not only specifically for my family but for all of us. Joy and grief walk hand in hand to shape who we are and to connect us. We are individuals but our life is not our own. Though we may believe we are alone and try our best to be alone, we share that.
After the death of my grandmother, I recognized that I don’t want to be alone, and because of my process of photographing and interviewing my family, and rummaging through old family albums, I noticed the nuances of our family bonds and the differences between when my grandmother was alive and after her passing. I began learning about my family as individuals, not simply as my mother, my uncles, and my aunt but also as daughters and sons, and as people. I believe that due to that process, they also feel less alone.
I hope this project can be a healing component for me and my family, and the viewer can find similarities within their own family and life and find a deeper appreciation for their relationships.