THE INSPIRED:

Featuring Mary Young; written and photographed by Emily Battaglini; inspired by “Forest Fires” by Margeaux Feldman

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Understanding Grief after Mourning has Subsided

I emailed Mary right away after reading Margeaux Feldman's piece about grief and loss, “Forest Fires.” I had been waiting for an opportunity to speak on the passing of Mary’s father, and this was it.

Most of my work [as a writer and photographer] is very personal in nature, and personal to me, that is to say: about me, or something I’m experiencing, or reflecting on. Embarking on this project felt different from the outset — an opportunity to live outside the realm of my head. I hadn’t endured the loss of someone close to me, but I felt the bond created between these two women who had never met: a writer who had lost her father, and a reader who had lost her father, too. Tied by writing and art, grief, and the grounding understanding that we are never really alone.

Mary and I emailed back and forth furiously. She sent me excerpts from Margeaux’s story that spoke to her: “Like most deaths, you never really knew the ‘when’ of it. You felt that ‘when’ must really mean: ‘so far away,’ or ‘it couldn’t be now,’ or ‘not yet.’” Later, when Mary and I met to shoot, she brought reminders of her late father. We built a new kind of trust between us. Sometimes we took breaks and sat in silence on the hardwood floor.

Grief has no understanding of time. Questions remain, years later. How do you pick up the pieces, when you need your father? There is a hole in your heart where you miss him constantly.

Since I’ve known Mary I've seen her build an empire, and I’ve seen her grow through change. Maybe the only way through grief is acceptance. Not by forgetting, or waiting for time to heal all wounds, but rather the complete opposite: staying in the feeling for as long as you need to.

Mary Young is the is a designer behind Mary Young, an ethically designed & produced line of intimates based in Toronto. Outside of her brand you can find Mary speaking on entrepreneurship, self love, and motivation. @itsmaryyoung

Emily Battaglini is a photographer and writer living in Toronto. Em was able to produce this edition of The Inspired as a part of Ryerson University’s Internship Program. @embattaglini

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In each installment of this series, we ask a photographer we love to produce a visual story in collaboration with an artist who inspires us. The artist gets to play the role of the subject behind the lens, and the collaboration manifests in response to something (a story, quote, paragraph, visual) in our body of work that moves our subject to create, elaborate, design, engage.

Are you a photographer interested in producing work for this series? Get in touch with us at community@withoutpretend.com and let us know what inspires you!