Jennifer Loeber Photographs Her Dead Mother’s Belongings To Cope With Her Grief

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When photographer Jennifer Loeber’s mother died, Loeber began to photograph her belongs as a way of coping with her grief. She matched her photos with vintage pictures that her father had taken of her mother and posted the pairs on Instagram. The resulting series, “Left Behind,” is a poignant memorial, both deeply personal and universal.

The everyday objects that remain when loved one dies become an instant museum of sorts, freezing that person in time. A favorite pearl ring will never be replaced by a diamond; an unmatched glove will never be matched to its mate. A used lipstick, valueless in itself, becomes a cherished object, chosen and applied by the person so missed. Many times these everyday objects are the most touching and the most difficult to dispose of.

“I found myself deeply overwhelmed by the need to keep even the most mundane of my Mom’s belongings when she died suddenly this past February. Instead of providing comfort and good memories they became a source of deep sadness and anxiety and I knew the only way I would be able to move past that was to focus on a way to interact with them cathartically. I had recently become active on Instagram and realized that utilizing the casual aspects of sharing on the app was a way to diminish my own sentimentality towards the objects my Mom left behind.”

Reframing the objects allowed Loeber to experience them without searing grief. Instead of the items feeling haunted, they became imbued by fond memories of her mother’s life. By matching them with her father’s photos she was able to make a fitting memorial to her mother, one that was less about personal pain than about remembrance.

“My dad refused to hold a traditional funeral service because he and I believe you should celebrate a life, not mourn it. I’m sure this body of work falls in line with that concept.” (Source)

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