Back to grief.

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After a month working on the crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds to publish my Tulip project, it feels like many things have been on hold, especially my feelings & emotions, I’ve been so busy I didn’t really even have the time to check how I was feeling about actually doing this. It’s nice to have a chance to get back to this now, and continue writing about them as I have been for so long now. These past few weeks I’ve felt incredibly stressed, tired, and pretty much on auto-pilot. I’ve forgotten to eat, slept so little & drank way way too much coffee. It’s funny because the last time I felt like this was when my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and watched her slowly die. The campaign has in a strange way resembled my mother’s death. Even the way people have responded to it has resembled that time, some of the people I really though I could rely on for support, and I don’t mean financial support, just moral support, vanished. And others who I really didn’t expect to care or even notice it came out the woodwork and were amazing. It’s strange how familiar it is.

Tulip being such a personal story, the idea of having to relive all that time again, but make it so very public should have been daunting, but it wasn’t at all, as I couldn’t feel anything. The campaign became a job that I needed to do, there was no time to think about how it made me feel. It resembled having to organise my mums funeral and register her death, my brother and I trying on our own to do it all, without a minute to think about what we were actually doing.

Many very caring people messaged me to ask how I was finding it through the campaign, if it had opened up old wounds. For it to open up old wounds the wounds would need to have healed. You never heal from your mum dying at an early time in your life, I don’t think. It changes you, everything, everything about you, this might not be visible to people around me, I’m very good at trying to hide my vulnerable side (even though I’m probably not very good at that!), but it alters all and you have to get used to this new new as there is no returning. But through this campaign I never really got the chance to think about that, about how it made me feel, what the images meant to me now. I was interviewed by over ten different newspapers, magazines & websites, all asking me why I did it, how it made me feel, why I wanted to make it in to such a public book. I found these hard to answer on paper as I found it hard to answer in my head. Not because I wasn’t sure I should make this project into a book, I knew that was always what I wanted to do. But why does there have to be a reason to publish private work? Of course this project is private, and painful, and intimate, and heart-breaking, but so are most people’s lives, and mine was and still is in ways. Why can’t we just share things for the sake of sharing? People are scared of death, and grief and talking about anything painful, why? Do they think it’s contagious? If I talk to you about how anxious or depressed I feel you’ll take some with you? I wish you could.

Death, grief and painful emotions are the most inspirational things to me in my work, all my work since my mums illness have been about these one way or another, some very obviously and others just with nuances, but they are there. This is obvious in my new project, where I’m retracing my mums life and trying to record my journey through grief. I’m sure many people think why is she still doing this, can’t she just ‘get over it’? Well no. Pretending something never happened is not getting over it. I feel I need to explore her life, but also my life since. The grieving process fascinates me, you are thrust into it blind, knowing nothing about what is coming and how long it will last, no ones warms you, helps you along the way. I found it amazing when I talked to people who have been through a similar thing and I realised it wasn’t just me, so many others have felt the same.

What I liked about the very public crowdfunding campaign is it made people look at my project, and perhaps I want people to look at my grief now, why must it be so very private. This new project is about my mums life,my journey through it, her food history, cooking her recipes & our joint love of food, but also my journey through the grief. Some how these will all make up a book…somehow. I’m looking forward to getting back to the grief and trying to find the story I’m looking for.

 

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