"Self-Portrait with my Mother": How this photographer found peace after devastating loss
The experience of losing a parent is impossible to understand unless you’ve gone through it. Part of your past, present and future feels like it disappears, and all that’s left in its place are memories and a deep, gaping hole in your heart. The pain will eventually lessen, but it’ll return with a vengeance at the slightest scent, memory, or anything else that reminds you of your lost loved one. I know this pain all too well. My mom died three years ago.
Poland and England-based photographer Karolina Jonderko also knows the pain and struggle of coming to terms with the loss of her mother. In her photos series Self-Portrait with my Mother, she took photos of herself wearing her mom’s clothes, and through the process, she was finally able to let go of some of the pain. The project began when Jonderko decided to go through her mom’s clothes to help her remember some of the good moments they had together. She wanted to not only recall the moments, but to physically feel them. While wearing her mom’s green coat, she saw a blonde hair that belonged to her mom — and she felt completely calm for the first time in four years. She then realized what she needed to do next. She took the clothes over to her grandmother’s house, who had passed away a few months prior, because that’s where her mom grew up. She then tried on her mom’s clothes and photographed herself wearing them.
Jonderko posted the photos and her story on Bored Panda. She wrote, “Many feelings went trough my head while photographing myself in those clothes, but the predominant one was the closeness of my mother. I could feel her presence. After taking the last picture and after taking the last piece of clothing off, I was ready to let her go. With this project, I said my goodbyes.”
Jonderko was able to come up with beautiful memories behind the clothes with the help of her sister. She told HelloGiggles, “I needed help from my sister to remind me the good moments. Last two years of my mom’s life were extremely hard. I remember her being sick better than when she was healthy. That’s why together, with my sister, we wrote down the best memories of her wearing those clothes.”
Everyone has their own process of grieving, and this was Jonderko’s. It’s a beautiful tribute, and we are so happy this project helped her feel what she needed to feel.
Here are some of her moving photos, along with the memories that flooded back when Jonderko wore her mother’s clothes.