My dear friends, I cannot believe that I am actually writing this blog post. Today, Becky Higgins will be announcing a new Project Life mini kit on her blog: the Remembrance Edition. And as surreal as it is for me to say this, it was designed by me.
Little ole me.
It all began some six months when I was chatting to another mum on the AUS/NZ Project Life Facebook group who had also lost a baby. At the time, she was looking for a kit of some sort to document her journey. Neither of us knew of any, and I candidly suggested that perhaps I could design something for the both of us. She thought that that would be a lovely idea, and so I popped it on my ever-growing projects list.
Over the next couple of months, Rick and I would talk about it here and there and we both agreed that it would be a nice thing to do. One day, out of nowhere, I found myself wondering whether Becky would actually be interested in having something like this as part of her product line. I decided to reach out to Kari, Becky’s lovely Marketing Director, whom I had gotten to know a little since becoming part of the 2013 Creative Team. In an email that would signal the beginning of this wonderful project, I very tentatively asked her whether there was any possibility of working together to develop a special Project Life digital kit for the babyloss community. There were so many of us, I told her, yet there really wasn’t anything out there…
It didn’t take long for Kari to reply. She already knew about Cameron from my blog, and so she understood exactly where I was coming from. I tell you, Kari is one of the loveliest people whom I have met online and I honestly wish we lived closer to each other so that I can meet her in person. But anyway, she said that she would talk to Becky about it and get back to me. I can’t tell you how much I held my breath in the days that followed…
In just over a week, I saw an email from Kari in my inbox and I almost jumped out of my skin. I opened it and saw the happiest reply: Becky liked the idea and would love to see some sample cards from me as a first step to possibly making all this become a reality. Even though there was no official commitment yet as such, I was nonetheless thrilled that Becky was interested in seeing some concepts. As timing would have it, however, Trish and I had just sold out our first Life:Captured workshop and so began two months of dedicating almost all my spare time to prepare for the event.
Finally, towards the end of August, after we finished winding down from the workshop, I sat down and began sketching out my concepts for Becky. I’d already been a working on a mood board, and so I had a pretty rough idea of what I wanted the kit to look like. Still, it was nerve-wrecking putting the concepts together because I knew I was proposing something quite different and I had no idea how Becky and Kari would respond. When Becky herself wrote back personally to say that they loved it and would love for the project to go ahead, I was simply over the moon.
Obviously, I was happy that I would get to design this very special edition of Project Life.
But more than that, I was just so encouraged that Becky and her team felt that something like this was worth creating.
As you may have already noticed, my concept for this edition is quite different to other Project Life kits. The main difference being that I’ve used my photography in these designs, which I know is somewhat of a unique approach.
The reason for this is simple: When you’ve lost a child, the documentation process is quite different to when you’re documenting the life of a child that’s alive. Apart from the photos that we have of Cameron on the day he was born, we have no more photos of him. There are no baby toes to photograph, no milestones to capture on your camera, no candid shots of the parent holding or feeding the baby… We have only our grief, our tears, and ultimately, our words. So while all the other Project Life kits are graphically designed to complement people’s photos, I’ve adopted almost the opposite approach: cards with beautiful imagery to complement a grieving mother’s (or father’s) journaling.
In terms of the wording, I wanted to avoid trite sentiments like ‘everything will be okay’ or ‘keep smiling’ or ‘stay positive.’ Such words are meaningless when you are grieving for your child. Instead, I’ve written words that I think are true. And real. Simple truths like ‘it hurts’ and ‘taking it one day at a time’ and ‘missing you.’ Heartfelt truths.
With the journaling cards, I wrote down prompts that I felt might help a mother who’s grieving to articulate what she feels. To encourage her to document her pain, and her tears. Grief can be so all-consuming that sometimes it’s easy to just bottle it all inside. But writing it down, journaling one’s pain, is so crucial to the grieving process. If I had not written, if I had not journaled as I’d done after Cameron died, I would’ve found it so much harder to cope with my grief. An empty notebook, however, can be confronting so hopefully these smaller journaling cards can help parents express their sorrow a few sentences at a time.
After Cameron died, writing was one of my lifelines. There is no doubt in my mind that ‘writing my heart out’ helped sustain me through each day. Six years on, I actually cannot imagine not having my journey documented through my journaling. Those words that I wrote in the throes of my grief are utterly precious to me today. They can be hard to read, that’s true, but they are a true reflection of our journey. Of that time of grieving for Cameron. And because of that, they are beautiful words to me. To have my pain, love, tears, grief, and struggles recorded for me to revisit at any time is a bit part of my tie to Cameron now.
And so, I guess, it is my hope that this Remembrance Edition might somehow help other people to do the same: to give their sorrow words.
Even though there are a few cards that are specific to losing a baby, when I was designing the kit, I actually had in mind anybody who has ever lost someone they loved…
Right now, as I write this blog post, I can’t help but shed tears. It overwhelms me to think of everybody in the world who has suffered the horrendous pain of losing a child. My heart goes out to all of you. You are not alone. We are not alone.
To my own little guy, Cameron Angus Mason, this entire project was for you.
I miss you like mad, and I will never, ever cease weeping and longing for you.
You are loved. Always.
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Note that you can click on any of the images above for a bigger version.
If you would like to see the entire collection of cards in the Remembrance Edition, you can visit my Facebook page and click on Albums.
And lastly, I printed my cards on matt photo paper and they turned out beautifully.