Grief Self-Portraits

Photogrief / Photogrief : Eleanor Haley

grief selfie

Alright, we'll admit it, we have been abysmal at updating this site on a regular basis.


I'm embarrassed because if there is one thing I dislike it's a poorly maintained website.  With PhotoGrief it's somewhat of a chicken or the egg dilemma because in order to share more photos we need more submissions, but in order to get more submissions we need to post more regularly.  Anyway, we're going to look at 2016 as a clean slate for getting back on track. New year, new website...or something like that.

Moving on, you may have noticed I've posted a self portrait today. Actually, being that I took this photo on my iPhone and processed it with an iPhone app (VSCOcam), I think it would technically qualify as a "selfie".  Don't cringe, we like selfies and believe they are a completely valid tool for self-expression and emotional exploration.  In fact, you can read Litsa's defense of the grief-selfie here.  Regardless of whether you are using a "real" camera or a Smartphone, the self-portrait is a great way to express how you feel without having to say a word.

Now I know many of you may be shy about taking and/or sharing photographs of yourself, particularly photographs that reveal the emotion hidden below your 'say cheese' smile, but today I'm going to challenge you to try.  This prompt is inspired by a therapeutic photo activity called the transformational self portrait.  The transformational self portrait involves 3 steps:

  1. Create a self-portrait based on an experience that negatively impacted your life. This portrait could reflect how you felt in that moment, details of the experience, or how the event impacted you at the time.
  2. Create a traditional self-portrait of you in the here and now.
  3. Create a self-portrait inspired by your hopes for healing.  This portrait looks into the future and represents how you want to change or how you want to feel in the future.  This portrait may involve a little bit of imagination.  For example, you may photograph yourself looking strong, even though you currently feel helpless and broken.

I love the transformational self-portrait and if you feel up to it, I encourage you to give it a try. However, I want to simplify this activity for today's prompt.

We're at the very start of 2016.  Some of you may be unsure how you will make it through to 2017, others may have hopes of finding renewed strength and hope in the year ahead.  Regardless of where you in your grief - we want you to take a self-portrait of how you feel today.   We believe that many of you will find healing in the year ahead, but when each day feels like a struggle - like a battle you aren't winning - it can be really tough to feel like you've made any progress at all.  The photo you take today can serve as a reference point for you throughout the year to look back on and to see how far you've come.

We'd love for you to share your photograph with us in the form of a submission.  However, we also love when you share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

As for my photograph above, I feel a little bit sick with a cold today.  Also, I feel a little unhappy with how I've been taking care of myself, so much so that I feel more comfortable in the shadows and at a distance.  I'd love to feel good enough this year to step into the light, we'll see how it goes.

Submit and subscribe. 

We wrote a book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
real-life book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

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One Comment on "Grief Self-Portraits"

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  1. Eaddy  January 22, 2016 at 3:36 pm Reply

    I love this photo, it drew me right in – it’s a beautiful moment of rest and reconciling, of not feeling great and going for it anyways. Great selfie project, too. I’m a big fan of WYG and this new site, hopefully I’ll pull together a submission soon!

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