The loss of a loved ones is a deep and emotional event that may leave us with an insurmountable hole in our hearts. Grieving people frequently find comfort in physical mementos of the deceased. Though appearing little to outsiders, these items have significant emotional weight for their keepers. This custom attests not only to the depth of our emotional ties to our loved ones who have passed on, but also to the strength of the bonds that bind us to them even after they are gone.
The Catalyst: A Hairbrush and Dentures
Servon, an artist and university lecturer, experienced grief in 2006. She lost not just her grandfather, but also her mother, her sister, and her best friend. A hairbrush and her grandfather’s dentures, both inanimate yet curiously intimate, emerged as anchors of consolation in this sea of loss. The latter was a surprise present from her ancestors that arrived in the mail.
The Birth of a Project Loved Ones
The start of something truly original was signaled by this unanticipated shipment. Servon set out on a quest to record the reasons why individuals kept certain items long after the death of a loved one. She found comfort there, time to heal, and a forum from which to spread the word about the extraordinary tales hidden within commonplace objects. Servon’s new book, “Saved: Objects of the Dead,” portrays a moving portrayal of loss via interviews spanning over a decade.
Beyond Heirlooms: Mundane Treasures
Even if diamonds and other treasures have a place here, it’s the commonplace items that really hit home for me. Even the most mundane objects, like a worn leather card holder, a twisted metal colander, or a plastic scraper tool, can store a lifetime of memories and a small bit of someone’s soul. They serve as more than just objects; they hold precious memories.
Prosthetic Limbs and Hairbrushes: Physical Reminders
Having physical access to an item once owned by someone may be a powerful emotional connection. An amputee’s artificial limb, which served as fodder for jokes with his daughter before his amputation, now serves as a stark reminder of his absence. For some, though, such as the hairbrush that still rests in its owner’s hand, they serve as a constant reminder of happier times.
Heavy Reminders of Lives Unlived Loved Ones
Many of the items serve as somber memories of lives cut too short and dreams never fully fulfilled. For nearly twenty years, a grieving mother has kept the little tuxedo her infant son wore on his way to Heaven. A friend of a lady who died of breast cancer retained a pinecone as a memento of the mother and her teenage daughter, who was killed. These artifacts embody a level of sadness that is difficult to put into words.
The Power of Memory Loved Ones
Beyond mere documentation, Servon and her coworker Delany-Ullman see this endeavor as a therapeutic exercise. Subjects are asked to choose a single item that has meaningful memories of a loved one and have a conversation about their connection to that item. This method adds depth to our conversations. It becomes a channel for actual connection rather than just a means of exchange of pleasantries or condolences.
A Tapestry of Shared Grief Loved Ones
Strangers band together in grief for this cause. A random meeting with a cafe worker in a museum leads to an emotional discussion on loss on both sides. In times of shared tragedy, barriers between people dissolve. A shared feeling of loss may unite people from all walks of life and cultures.
Sharing Stories: A Collective Catharsis
Servon and Delany-Ullman, in the spirit of this endeavor, would like to extend an invitation to the entire globe. Through the project’s many social media outlets, they solicit users to submit photographs of personal treasures, each accompanied by a personal narrative or poetry. Although the contributions vary greatly in tone and subject matter, they all share a common theme: sometimes, clinging to something is the best way to let go.
Conclusion: Love That Never Leaves
The things we hold on to after a loss are more than just material goods; they are stores for precious memories, expressions of affection, and safe havens from the waves of sadness. They are a symbol of the bond between the living and the dead that continues to exist even after death. Grief is something that stays with you, as Servon so beautifully puts it. Alters and develops through time.
- Why do people hold onto objects after a loved one passes away? Having something physical to remind one of the deceased might bring forth feelings of solace and a renewed sense of connection.
- How does documenting these objects help in the grieving process? Keeping a record of mementos helps open up avenues for thought and sharing, which in turn facilitates healing after loss.
- Are there any specific types of objects that tend to hold the most significance? While jewels and other artifacts are supposed to be treasured, the unexpected emotional weight of commonplace things is not uncommon.
- How can sharing these stories with strangers be therapeutic? Grief is a universal human emotion, and sharing tales about it with complete strangers may help us feel less alone and more understood.
- What can we learn from this project about the nature of grief? Because of this work, people are reminded that grieving is not something one simply “gets over.” This is a dynamic process that has to be recognized, comprehended, and encouraged as it unfolds.