This Memorial Day Weekends seems an appropriate time to launch my latest personal project "War Widow", a photo essay about a woman who loses her husband during WWII. The storyline begins with the notification of his death and documents the resulting aftermath. War Widow deals more specifically with those moments of isolation—where no one is watching – when the emotions of our War Widow are on the surface and very evident to anyone touching her world. The essay broaches the difficult subjects of loneliness, denial, vulnerability -- and even a bit of madness – all of which are interspersed between moments of strength for her family.
I think there’s an expectation of someone when they suffer loss that they will, no matter what the circumstance, remain strong for their family and put on a stoic face, resuming their lives. Grief makes people uncomfortable, so those who are suffering put on a brave face in public; but the reality is that those suffering are truly falling apart behind closed doors. I believe that this is a natural and human response, but I believe that these moments of vulnerability need not stigmatize the sufferer, but make those suffering understand that they are not suffering alone and their grief is a normal, healthy reaction that touches each of us.
My choice to approach the narrative from a nostalgic perspective was twofold: first, it’s just my aesthetic, I am visually drawn to vintage clothing/interiors/etc.; and secondly, it lends a cinematic quality to the visuals. And, of course, this era is iconic -- where this was an unfortunate and commonplace reality for many women -- and we immediately recognize it for what it is, given our understanding of historical events in this country. However, the theme is not really time specific. The pain and grief displayed transcends time and era… it is meant to be relatable, no matter the era or setting.
A big thank you to my friend Nicole over at FStoppers for the feature, which you can find here: https://fstoppers.com/editorial/war-widow-looking-loss-through-lens-kate-woodman-178402
You can find the images in the gallery below: