In my project Shiny Ghost, I have documented the final years of my grandmother’s life as she suffered from a degenerative brain disease.

The images were made during moments of conversation, gesture, and experiences of death. The variety of photographic approaches towards the subjects are representative of a frantic need to record all aspects of my knowledge of her (whether performative or candid) in a hope that these moments could later be pieced together again, attempting to construct a more accurate portrait of how I would remember her.

My grandmother and I had a tumultuous relationship: we never thoroughly understood each other and missed connections of tastes and values that flourished throughout our entire lives. Looking back on this project, the photographs reveal a deeper language that we had been sharing for years. It was constituted of mutual vulnerability and trust, acted upon even in death.

—Rachel Cox

Editors’ Note: This haunting and sensitive photography essay was given the 1st place, Series award in the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2016. Discover more inspiring work from all 39 of the winners and finalists.