Remembrance – Art Journal Page

Trigger Warning: This blog post makes mention of stillbirth / baby loss.

The next Documented Life Project prompt I tackled was all about photographs and memories.  The accompanying phrase prompt, however, was distinctly sombre: “All that I have to remember you”.  I immediately felt inspired, maybe even compelled, to create an art journal page that functioned as a sort of visual memorial to a dead loved one.  I wanted to resist the impulse as I try to not make my art journal too personal and I certainly aim to avoid such personal subjects.  Then I thought I should challenge myself and take a chance on handling an emotive topic.  Gulp.

Sadly, I had lots of loved ones I could have chosen as the subject of my page.  However, it is that time of year when I begin to brace myself for the anniversary of the birth of our stillborn son and when I really have to consciously wrestle with my grief welling up inside me again.  If I was going to feel exposed creating such a personal art journal page then I thought I might as well go with my impulse to tackle an aspect of my life that makes me feel emotionally vulnerable.  Gulp.

I think the page is self-explanatory and the materials used obvious.  The focal element is provided by the tags.  One of them contains simple stamped words.  The other two have my baby son’s hand- and footprints, each little digit not much bigger than the buttons I attached to the tags.

Week 29 - All that I have to remember you - Full Page

Week 29 - All that I have to remember you - Detail

Probably for obvious reasons, I spent longer pulling together this art journal page than I usually do.  I would like to report that it was a cathartic, healing experience but honestly I am not sure it helped at all.  I think I am glad that I attempted a more emotionally involved page but I don’t think I shall repeat the exercise.

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14 thoughts on “Remembrance – Art Journal Page

  1. I can relate. Three years ago, I found out I was pregnant. This came as a shock, given I had only begun to date the man who would later become my husband. We wrestled with what to do, but in my heart, I knew the only option for me was to become a mother. The doctor explained that I was likely 5 weeks along and had better get in for an ultrasound. At the ultrasound, the saw nothing, which meant an ectopic pregnancy. They were worried it would rupture and I would bleed out. As such, I was scheduled for emergency surgery. And just like that, I was a mother and then not a mother. I still grieve when that month rolls around and really any time any of my friends are pregnant…any time I get invited to a baby shower…any time I’m inundated with photos of babies on FB. Hugs to you. I did compete art journal pages. I’ve not gone back to look at them since.

    • Thank you for your heartfelt comment. I appreciate you sharing your experience, your thoughts and feelings. A pregnancy loss at any stage is devastating. As you write, it’s the abruptness of the change, the switch from hope and excitement to anguish and emptiness that’s so difficult to process. I was “lucky” in that my experience of miscarriage and stillbirth happened when I already had at least one child. Having kids to care for provides a reason to pick up and keep going, the whole life goes on thing. I can only imagine how hard it is to deal with such grief without that source of solace. *Hugs*

    • Thank you, Hannah. I appreciate your kind words. I hesitated to share it on my blog, to be honest, but I made a promise to myself when my son was born that I would help all efforts to stop stillbirth being such a taboo subject.

    • Thank you. It was definitely a challenge to create a more emotional journal page. I’m glad I tried it. I don’t think I will do it again, however. I use my art journal for escapism and stress-busting rather than personal reflection.

  2. Big hugs Laura. Thank you for sharing this to us. I may never understand how it feels to be pregnant or be a mother but I understand how you have felt then and still do when that time of month comes around. I hope your documenting this will eventually help you through total healing when you look back at your journal.

    • Thank you, Carrie Lynn. I’m sure that anyone who has been bereaved finds certain dates and things emotionally difficult. I find that to be true of my brothers’ birthdays and the anniversaries of their deaths.

      I think I just prefer to use my art journal for escapism and decompressing from stress. I think, therefore, it isn’t necessarily my thing to use it to process emotions like that. I know that’s how many other people use art journaling and they are very effective at what they do but I guess it’s just not me.

      Thank you, as always, for your kind words and encouragement.

      • Yes, art journaling helps us in different ways. I am more like you, using the journal as a stress reliever, that is why it took me until today to give last week’s prompt time to think about. Though we can really not follow the prompts and challenges if we feel comfortable, right? 🙂

      • Correct. I’ve found I’ve drifted away from or very loosely interpreted the prompts this year. It’s still useful to have a prompt though, even if it’s just to remind me to get my materials out and create a page once a week.

  3. A tear escapes as I type this. My son would be turning 18 this year and graduating from highschool. He passed at three months of age from SIDS. It’s funny how life goes on but there is this hole that is forever empty.

    • I am so sorry for your loss. That must have been terribly hard. Those milestone events do have a way of opening the emotional floodgates, don’t they? Thank you for taking the time to read and to respond with your own experience. I appreciate your openness.

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