Shock is the first of eight series that collectively form my body of work Good Grief—a visual articulation of my journey through grief following the loss of my mother.

The series of self-portraits in Shock depict my entry into mourning. At once private and confessional, its images expose the profound devastation I experienced with my mother’s passing. In the aftermath of her death, my life was stripped bare, as though light and colour had been extracted from my world, rendering me alone in the darkness. I grasped for some way to live in a world without her guidance.

Held In Heartbeats. The series of self-portraits in ‘Shock’ depict my entry into mourning. At once private and confessional, its images expose the profound devastation I experienced with my mother’s passing. © Shira Gold

These treescape portraits attend to the foreign and strained experience of suffocating under the loneliness of grief, while also feeling closed in and observed like an object of curiosity by well-intending loved ones offering sympathy. I yearned for my mother’s presence while also leaning away from the solace of friendship. Each image in Shock is set against a stark black background—a contained terrarium of grief, observed in isolation. The beauty of the natural landscape sharply strikes against the darkness, a silhouette of longing, of solitude, even of hope—a document of the traumatic impact that marked the crisis of losing my mother.

Dilapidated Wonder. © Shira Gold

My grief is a continuing landscape. The process of observing and documenting the beauty in the pain is my applied therapy; the grief as expressed through natural landscapes gives testimony to nature’s extraordinary healing power and sense of sacred space. Such seemingly ordinary occurrences reflect powerfully the extent of human suffering and inspire our gradual resurfacing.

Shira Gold

Editor’s Note: Shira Gold’s series was selected as a Finalist for the LensCulture Art Photography Awards 2019. Take time to browse the work of the other Finalists, Winners and Jurors’ Picks here.