in the wake of

a projection portrait project about loss, grief, and growth in the wake of death


“i met amanda on the first day of 7th grade. she really helped break me out of being a wallflower. she helped me realize i had value, that i was funny and i had an awesome personality. i had a lot to offer and i didn’t need to make myself small.

we were inseparable. she literally spent an entire summer living in my room. we shared everything, including drugs. when i was finally ready to move past my own addictions, i had to distance myself from her. i couldn’t be around the choices she was making. it really took me a while to learn it wasn’t a question of her choosing a drug over our friendship.

i am still trying to find the lesson in her death. i haven’t really accepted that i can’t call her. i can’t talk to her. she won’t meet my daughter, or see how much better things are on the other side of addiction. i don’t feel great with how things were left, but i believe she knows i loved her.”


“my mom was the kind of lady who just called everybody sweetie, sugar, honey. she really was a mother to every kid who was ostracized from their parents. there was no way to come away from her feeling unloved or unaccepted. that was the narrative that i grew up with.

its hard because i never don’t think of her. i feel her when i am enjoying a cup of coffee in the quiet of the morning. i see the sunshine and it’s like “there’s mom.” part of my coping mechanism is finding her in everything i do, so i am reminded of her a lot and i see her in everything. i was a very happy person before my mom died. her death was the catalyst for my suicidal thoughts. it was like, mom died. i want to be with my mom. i want to tell her i’m sorry.”


“my mother had a heart aneurysm. it's not really something doctors can detect. she was just sitting up at the kitchen table, and she died.

she was always so strong. her fall 6 months before wasn’t even a wake up call. it was like: mom’s brain is bleeding and she is very sick, but mom is tough and the doctor’s will fix her… sometimes i wonder if it was universe’s way of reminding us to not take her for granted, but we did.

people can just go. it’s a constantly overwhelming dread. i don’t want my last interaction with someone to be contention. it only takes two seconds to make someone’s day or give them the time of day. make time for people you care about. we didn’t realize how mortal she was, and now she’s just gone.”


“people are very understanding of loss but they are not necessarily understanding of grief. i have felt loss and death before, but hers has been such a void. it fundamentally changed me.

the sadness i can handle, but i fall apart over how i treated her. the guilt of not answering her last phone call, scoffing at her trying to make me dinner… those were the last moments with my mom. i didn’t have a good last moment.

we are so used to our instant gratification and comfort. if you have a headache, you take a pill. if someone dies, you send flowers. people don’t really want to talk about deep seated grief or regrets. they just want to you be happy and move on and they perceive you as not wanting to heal when you can’t just fix it. people want a success story, but there is no success story here.”