'to have loved and lost' is an ongoing personal narrative project about love, loss, and mourning. These images explore personal loss and grief, utilizing models as surrogates for my own self in staged narrative tableaux and found landscapes. I am currently searching for answers to my feelings of helplessness, sadness, loss, isolation, loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
The project began as I mourned the death of my grandmother. I had been very close with her and often spent summers at her home in northern Ohio. I miss her deeply to this day, and remember that last drive to her home vividly.
The following year was spent creating photographs that explored this loss, though I did not openly acknowledge them as such. The circa 2005 images are a selection of these earlier works.
In 2014, three of my family members died unexpectedly over the course of just a few months due to a suicide, a homicide, and an aggressive form of cancer. I was emotionally reeling and felt completely hopeless.
The depression hit me hard, like a dark wave that I watched rolling in from the distance. It occupied my every waking moment, and even my dreams turned into reoccurring nightmares. Tears welled up and stung my eyes in the most inappropriate of times. My throat would close and ache, leaving me unable to talk. Nobody knew what to say to me. I'd be left alone, with tear stained cheeks and a heavy heart. It all sounds romantic, but those I loved were still gone.
During this dark time, I received news that my father whom I hadn't spoken with since I was a little girl was terminally ill. He died a week later. This brought about a completely different set of emotions about the death of family and the loss of home.
I did not photograph creatively for nearly three years.
Slowly, I began to unearth myself. I never felt that this project had truly found closure and sought to answer some questions about my personal beliefs of dying, death, and what lies beyond.
I continue navigating these periods of unknowing in this expression of mourning and hope to come to some kind of understanding, whatever that may be. I am a work in progress.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote "In Memorium A.H.H." in response to losing a dear friend unexpectedly. The poem narrates the period of three years after his friend's death, illustrating how both disbelief and grief come easier with the passage of time. I hope that the same is not true for myself; I do not want the sting to lessen over time lest I forget.
I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
from "In Memorium A.H.H." by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1849)
I thank those who have carried me through these difficult times, those who have shared their own experiences, and those who I have loved.
In memory of,
© Chrystal Nause Photography