We all grieve for lost loved ones. Here’s how one photographer dealt with it in his own way.

“The death of one partner before the other—is inevitable, and the subject is maybe a bit taboo. No one likes to talk about it, but it happens.” -Erik Simander

When a loved one dies it can create a painful void in our lives. I know this because several years ago my father died. He was not yet 70 years old. His sudden loss was devastating to me and my family. On top of the shock of losing our father, we were also left with a kind of empty feeling. With time, the strength of the feeling fades but it never really goes away. It is a universal experience of humankind.

Erik Simander’s photographic exploration of his grandfather dealing with the loss of his wife is an extraordinarily poignant and poetic look at this universal experience. As with my own father, his grandmother passed away suddenly. Simander had been working on another photo project but decided to quit working on it to spend time with his grandfather as he mourned his wife’s passing.

Simander also saw pursuing the project as a means to cope with the loss of his grandmother. In the course of spending time with his grandfather, Simander stayed with him at his home, talked with him about his memories and helped him run errands. At the same time, his grandfather was suffering from age-related macular degeneration, a disease that results in loss of vision, glaucoma and impaired hearing. In a way, says Simander, “my grandfather lost his eyes and ears when she died.” Simander’s grandfather would eventually pass away.

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‘I buried my negatives in the ground in order that there should be some record of our tragedy.’ The photographs of Henryk Ross.

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