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Week 11 // Sanctuary


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When you lose a parter, you lose your sanctuary in a very real way. The person you used to go to with your most vulnerable feelings, daily stresses, irrational fears, crazy hopes, ridiculous doubts and horrible secrets is no longer there. You have lost your home and all the safety, warmth and encouragement that came with it. I personally don’t think there is any more debilitating trauma than to lose our sanctuary – whether it be a parent, partner, child, sibling, or best friend.

For my fiancé and I, our home was very much each other. We were deeply bonded. The space between us was sacred – a sanctuary where each of us was protected, loved, and accepted above all else. This was the core of what we shared, and in this, we were home. Nothing has ever made me feel as vulnerable, lost, scared, sad, hopeless, tired and in danger as losing the sanctuary we so carefully and lovingly built together.

I once read a quote that said “The thing with feelings, is to make it safe to feel them all”, and that is what a sanctuary is for. A large part of this “after” life now is about learning to recreate this space in a new way. As it turns out, building the nest for this image was just as powerful as the end moments of laying down inside the curves of it. I was reminded that a sanctuary must be created – piece by piece. That it takes times, and that one must carefully select only the most loving people, encouraging thoughts, and inspiring things to build it with.

Even though my sanctuary now is very different from the one he and I built together, parts of him still surround me there… and it is still the place where all of me is safe and nurtured. For me, this image is a reminder for those times when I am impatient with myself or I begin to feel lost, angry, or scared. In those moments, I am learning now to step back into the gentle womb of my new sanctuary, breathe deep, and allow myself to rest safety until I am restored.

“Still, Life” is a year-long self portrait series about living on after loss. If you’re new to this project, you can read more about it in this post.
Please share
 with anyone who you feel can relate to the imagery, my hope is that it gives many others a visual for something they are going through in their own lives.

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. beautiful image!

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
  2. Beautiful. xxo

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
  3. Gorgeous and thoughtful photograph/essay- what lovely gifts you have to share with the world. It’s clear you got your flow on girl! <3 :)

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
  4. Nita McGrew #

    This is just stunning & your words, as always are so sensitive and so incredibly painfully honest. Thank you.

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
  5. Donna #

    Wow….the image, the words. Love this!

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
  6. Your vision, both inside and out, is truly remarkable. Beautiful image!

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
  7. Sarah, what a powerful image of being in the nest, wonderfully embellished with your wise words. Your sorrow really is your gift to us. I can’t say for a minute I am happy you went through it, but I can say I am astounded at the beauty of your images. Bravo and thank you. <3

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
  8. Incredibly powerful image, i can’t stop staring and thinking when I look at it.

    Friday, May 23, 2014
  9. This is incredibly compelling work here on your blog, your images are stunning, and eloquent, and your story is vivid. You’ve made something very beautiful.

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014
    • Thank you so much – that means a great deal to me Chaos Girl!

      Tuesday, May 27, 2014
  10. sharing this with my mom, who lost her sanctuary of 44 years…

    Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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