During the spring and summer of 2007, more than 100 people worldwide, who had experienced the death of siblings, spouses, children, friends, colleagues, and other loved ones, answered a call to become part of an exploration of:
What happens when individual pieces of cloth and story come together to form a collective fabric?
They opened their hearts and tenderly folded these precious items of clothing, and honest expressions of love and loss, into envelopes, bags, and boxes, mailing them away to become the treasures that formed the foundation of Collecting Loss: Weaving Threads of Memory.
“I slept with this sweatshirt for months after your death. I want you to know I am trying to say good-bye to you and find a safe place for our story”
– Tammy Lawless, remembering her boyfriend, Joshua Joseph Hughes
The Contributions online gallery contains a portrait of each item of clothing given to us, the name of the person it belonged to, and the age they were when they died. It also includes passages from the stories that the clothing evokes, intensely personal narratives of a person, of a life, of a moment, and a relationship, submitted lovingly by each contributor.
This gallery is a space to honour and remember the dead, by giving the living permission to share their stories, and have their stories heard by others.
While these stories document the items of clothing of those who contributed to the project in 2007, it is our hope that what they tell, or evoke, can extend much further. It is our hope that it might help you understand what a friend, co-worker, or family member may be going through after the death of someone that they love. It is our hope that it can encourage you to engage in an active story-telling, as well as, story-listening process. It is our hope that you can gain some comfort and solace in daring to speak about the dead.
More often than not, in this culture, the subject of death is followed by uncomfortable silence. By inviting words, and stories, into this seemingly inhospitable public domain, it is our hope that these voices become small offerings of repair. Our stories told together form a fertile ground for creating legacy, by making room in the present to honour and remember the dead, together.