Pictures of Before

September 7, 2016

September 2011 by J. Morey

Today I ran across this photo.  It was taken by my husband in late September 2011.  That’s me on the right, showing off the baby clothes I’d bought for the baby that we’d just found out was a girl.  I had officially crossed the halfway point of the pregnancy, and was so excited to meet our daughter.  I had no idea that in less than two months I’d be holding her, dead, in my arms, and then saying goodbye.

From the very beginning of this new life in which loss and grief are major players, I’ve had difficulty with such photographs.  I love taking pictures, especially self-portraits, and I take them almost constantly.  So when our daughter died abruptly and without known cause, it hurt to return from the hospital without our daughter and see the photographs from Before.  I felt like they had betrayed me.  Shouldn’t I have known that something so horrible was about to happen?  Shouldn’t there have been a warning hidden within those photographs?

I combed through them, looking for some sort of sign of the horror that had come upon us so suddenly.  I had taken pictures up until the day she died . . . but of course there were no warning signs in them when I searched them from my new life in After.

I think that one of the worst parts of babyloss is that there is no way to predict it.  It is sudden and traumatic, and it shows us just how little control we have in this world — and that is terrifying.  The photographs from Before, they highlight this devastating truth for me.  When I look at these pictures now, it causes me pain to remember the naivete, the way that I never thought to question whether or not we’d have a happy ending to our first pregnancy.

That innocence is gone, and these photographs make me queasy with the hard-won knowledge that disaster strikes, and it can strike suddenly and unpredictably, and that it struck us, of all the people in the world.

I am left wondering — who is that young woman in the photograph, happily sorting the clothes she didn’t know her baby would never wear?  Where has she gone, and who is the woman I’m becoming?  Deep lines that weren’t there a year ago crease my face, and when I meet my eyes in the mirror they are too often filled with sadness and fatigue.  I don’t much like taking my own picture anymore.

How do you feel about pictures from Before?  Are they a comfort, or does it hurt to see them?

  • Beth

    Beth Morey is the mixed media artist behind Epiphany Art Studio . Her soulful and whimsical creations are born out of the griefs, joys, and not-knowings of life. She is also the founder of Made , an online course exploring the intersection of faith and art, and the author of the creative healing workbook, Life After Eating Disorder. Beth loves meeting new friends through her blog , where she writes about faith, creativity, and life after stillbirth. She lives in Montana with the Best Husband Ever, their rainbow son, and their three naughty dogs. You can find Beth at Epiphany Art Studio — or at her blog, You can also see her work at Life After Eating Disorder --


    • Kathie

      October 14, 2016 at 1:31 am

      THANK YOU, Beth. I had no idea this website existed. What a service to all of us, both newly grieved and those of us who have learned that, no matter how long ago, that grief can be freshly awakened in a moment. I share from the Bahai Scriptures: O thou beloved maidservant of God, although the loss of a son is indeed heartbreaking and beyond the limits of human endurance, yet one who knoweth and understandeth is assured that the son hath not been lost but, rather, hath stepped from this world into another, and she will find him in the divine realm. That reunion shall be for eternity, while in this world separation is inevitable and bringeth with it a burning grief.
      Praise be unto God that thou hast faith, art turning thy face toward the everlasting Kingdom and believest in the existence of a heavenly world. Therefore be thou not disconsolate, do not languish, do not sigh, neither wail nor weep; for agitation and mourning deeply affect his soul in the divine realm.
      That beloved child addresseth thee from the hidden world: “O thou kind Mother, thank divine Providence that I have been freed from a small and gloomy cage and, like the birds of the meadows, have soared to the divine world—a world which is spacious, illumined, and ever gay and jubilant. Therefore, lament not, O Mother, and be not grieved; I am not of the lost, nor have I been obliterated and destroyed. I have shaken off the mortal form and have raised my banner in this spiritual world. Following this separation is everlasting companionship. Thou shalt find me in the heaven of the Lord, immersed in an ocean of light.”

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