Grief is an Ivy

Digital Photography | May 2016

Grief is an ivy; a sorrow that clings. Its tendrils take hold, a coating layer both separate from and a part of the body. A life of its own, it grows up all around – hiding, protecting, isolating. 

How many of us stand like stone castles: enduring the storms that weather us and carrying our outer shells of leaves. 

Behind our walls of foliage we wonder if we are the weaker ones. But the ivy adds to our beauty, for “Truly, truly,” the man of sorrow cries, “Our grief will be turned into joy.” 


Artist statements:

I came up with the phrase, "Grief is an Ivy," about a year or so ago as a way to help understand and cope with my sorrow. The imagery felt both tragic & lovely, lonely & comforting, as well as mysterious & deeply honest.  

As serious as the concept is, the fairy-tale like whimsy of the layered imagery aims to lead the darkness towards hope, especially when paired with the text.

The quote in the text is paraphrased from the Bible verse, John 16:20.  Currently, my greatest comfort when feeling the terrible weight of painful sadness is thinking about how Jesus himself was called "the man of sorrows." As Isaiah 53:4 says, "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows," and that  "Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one... make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities" (v. 11). As isolating as grief can be, we are not alone or abandoned in it or because of it.


Many thanks to the wonderful Karly Nelson for taking the original photographs & for sitting with me in my sadness, joy, fear, delight, & pain throughout the years. Thank you for allowing me to be myself, especially when I am struggling. Not having to hide or pretend helps me grow in such meaningful ways.