Touching Self-portraits Document the Psychological Journey of Grieving Death

After losing her fiancé in a helicopter crash in 2012, Sarah Treanor quit her job as a graphic designer to pursue a deeply emotional exploration of grief through photography. The creative endeavor is symbolic of her psychological experience in process and in imagery, and captures the essence of the dark, peaceful, and disorienting journey of mourning. The heart-wrenching feeling the images evoke is universally familiar and carefully dissects the most difficult aspect of the human experience – death.

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“Shortly after the death of my fiancé in 2012, I began taking pictures of myself. I didn’t know why, all I knew is that some part of me needed to see myself,” Treanor explains. “I felt like I had died too… the images gave me proof that I was still living and a tangible way to express everything that was going on inside of me.”

This was the inspiration for Treanor’s in-process year-long project titled “Still, Life.” She takes one black-and-white self-portrait each week that describes an aspect of the “journey of grief.” It is incredible to see these images and know that she took each elaborate photo by herself, completely alone in forests, lakes, and fields. In one image titled “Sanctuary” Treanor constructed an entire human-sized bird’s nest for the photograph. Nearly all of her images are unaltered, unedited, original captures.

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Treanor has exposed her psyche for the world to observe and reflect on. This bravery has enabled her peers to tangibly understand how she feels inside and also has amassed her an online following and community of individuals suffering similar losses. Ultimately, her work has an emotional impact on every human who has experienced a death and serves as a visual explanation of this tragic and emotionally disorienting experience.

“Photography helps me find my peace, and also helps me to express parts of my story and emotions in ways that cannot be said with words. My goal in sharing my work is to help others who are going through their own darkness to feel less alone.”

Follow Treanor on her blog or Facebook to see each week’s self-portrait and for prints of her photographs visit her Etsy shop.

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