Bereavement Portraiture is an alternative to physical forms of memorials which tend towards one-dimensional sentimentality. As I child, I sat flipping through the brochures in my grandparent's funeral home, comparing the various products available to the bereaved: blankets, necklaces, and windchimes customized with a portrait of your loved one.
Grief is sacred
Grief is beautiful
Grief expresses love
All these are well intended tokens of remembrance, but ill-equipped to handle the multifaceted nature of grief. When my mother died, I was shocked to discover that beauty can be bound up in anguish, and lament sometimes mirrors a deep sacredness. In this light, the most well meaning remembrance tokens can wind up feeling empty, or in the worst case, insulting.
Bereavement portraits welcome the sacred-desolation of grief by capturing the whole of life, love, and loss experienced by the deceased and those now left behind. The portrait, and the process of creating the portrait, is designed to bring beauty and healing into a fragile and traumatic season.
Grief makes significant the life of our beloved, down to the smallest details. Leftovers in the fridge, a bookmark left in a novel, a pair of well worn shoes; small detritus of life which is now emboldened as witnesses to the life of your beloved.
By stepping into the stories of your beloved's quirky habits, shared adventures, and communal trials, I learn how to choose settings, colors, and expressions to reflect the life you lived with your beloved -- a life, which now unreachable, remains unmovable in memory.
Grief is love that can no longer be placed on its object. No matter the ups and downs we may have had with our loved one, the grief we feel is a testament to the love we had. It is a raw, vulnerable love that needs to be represented honestly,
By listening to you describe the life you loved with your beloved I am able to incorporate details which echo and embody the love you have for your lost loved one -- a love that survives death.
The death of a loved one is a season, not an event. Time moves differently, our senses shift, and the world seems changed. Often, events prior to, or after the death become embedded in our memory of the death. These memories, at times traumatic, at other times treasured, are an inherent part of our sacred journey of grief.
In giving place to your treasured and traumatic memories surrounding your beloved's death, I allow room for a sacred brokenness to emerge.
Gather photos of your loved one into an online photo gallery. A wide variety of images is best - posed and candid; headshots and full body; professional and low quality. I use these images both as reference, and as a way to get to know your family and lost beloved.
While grieving, various things become inexplicably “tied” to a person - a certain color, season, or movie. These things, what I call, associatives, offer a key way for me to enter into and depict your walk of grief.
I have prepared a guide to help you identify the associatives you may carry.
Meet up for a Listening Time
Once you have collected photos and meditated on associatives, we meet together (virtually or physically) for me to learn more about your story of life, love, and loss with your beloved. Lasting around 2 hours, this meeting is the most vital part of the creative process.
Consider the Proposed Composition
1-2 weeks after the meeting, you will receive a proposed sketch for the portrait's composition. Often the idea for the sketch is developed in the meeting itself. Once the proposed composition is approved, the painting begins production.
Watch the Painting Progress
You will receive periodic updates about the portrait's progress as it is painted over the next few months.
When the painting is nearing completion, final adjustments to the portrait are made with your guidance to ensure a true likeness.
Receive your Completed Portrait
Once the painting is completed, the portrait is conveyed to you at the earliest convenience, either by mail or in person.
Framing is available upon request for an additional fee.
"Meredith is compassionate, thoughtful, and intentional. I have admired her work for years and was excited to work with her. My expectations were exceeded! She was inclusive and open, seeking our feedback throughout the process. It was fascinating to watch her work. The finished product is so beautiful and I love passing by my brother’s portrait everyday and saying 'Hi.' My favorite part was having Meredith sharing about the painting in person. I was blown away by the meaningful details she incorporated.
Highly recommend working with Meredith!"
- Britt Eben