In this blog, Jo describes a project that she and her writer, Faye, have been working on to better understand and capture how creative pursuits may help those of us who are grieving.
“My brother took his own life in November 2017. Real grief was not something I had really had to face until that point, and for a long time it was completely overwhelming.”
Jo Ritchie is a photographer. When she lost her brother, she started to search for others in similar situations feeling the need to connect. She was fascinated – and uplifted – to discover how many people channel their grief through creativity.
“Sometimes the last thing I wanted to do was pick up my camera and attempt to be creative, so I was intrigued to meet people whose grief was the catalyst of a creation.”
In 2019, Jo began searching for those that had used a creative skill as a distraction, a relief, or an expression and taking their portraits.
She has met comedians, actors, crafters, writers, and cooks.
“I am honoured to have met these people and been allowed to take their portraits. It’s interesting that what started as a need to connect has now gone full circle and Projecting Grief has become my creative outlet.”
Jo felt that the portraits required context so decided to team up with a writer to bring the stories and images together. She teamed up with Faye Dawson, a Communications Consultant, whose own grief had taken her down another path.
“When a whole host of otherness decided I wouldn’t have my own child, the thing that upset me most was ‘what will I leave behind?’”
This is the opening line to Faye’s writings. She had two miscarriages in the space of nine months and says she did not understand her grief.
“I thought ‘how can you grieve for someone you never met/never knew?’ There were people suffering far worse than me; I shouldn’t have left it too late to try; it was my fault.”
She decided to not try again.
“I could have continued trying, I was offered support, but I chose not to and fundamentally I am ok with my decision. But it did leave me wanting to make sense of ‘family’, and so I started writing about my own which is blended and bonkers!”
The pieces were very well received, and she wanted to do more, believing it would be her ‘something to leave behind’.
“I decided to set up as a freelancer with the idea of giving myself more time to write and in 2017 I set up my own Communications Consultancy. I haven’t touched my writings since! But what that decision/life change has led me to do is connect with some amazing people that I probably would never have met. Jo is one of them and I’m delighted to be working with her on Projecting Grief.”
Together Jo and Faye are looking for anyone who wants to share their story around grief and creativity, specifically people who created something as a result of their loss.
“Grief has no prejudice”, Jo concludes.
“We want a wide range of voices. Any creative process is valid – from cooking to sewing, dance to pottery, embroidery to writing; anything that has/is helping you deal with the grieving process that you’re happy to talk about.”
If you want to take part in the project email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To see the story so far visit www.projectinggrief.com
You can find them on Instagram at @projecting_grief
To see more of Jo’s photography visit www.joritchiephoto.com
To read Faye’s story visit www.fayedawsonpr.com/fayesbook