Nancy and her daughter Kristin were chosen to be a part of the, "Faces of Fortitude" project by photographer Mariangela Abeo. This project focuses on capturing the story and the essence of those who have been affected by suicide.
Faces of Fortitude lays a foundation of healing through shared portraits of those personally affected by attempted or completed suicide, and provides a safe, stigma-free space for mental health to be discussed, and stories of loss and survival to be shared.
A few of Mariangela's photos can be seen below.
“A few days after Garretts death we were sitting in the house, and I said I needed to do something, anything, to help process. I leaned over the stairs railing and yelled downstairs like I used to for dinner. “GARRETT! GARRETT!! GARRETT!!” I would have given anything to have him open his bedroom door and say “Ya ma! What do you need Ma??” I would give anything to have my boys back but I’m so grateful for this process because of the discovery I have had of myself. I am learning about what people need to hear. I am remembering to smile, and tell people I love them. I am learning the need for self care. I want people in grief to lock arms and be there for each other. No one has to do this alone.” - Nancy
Nancy is a mother of 5 children, a wife and a grief advocate. I emotionally connect to all mothers that have lost. I learned that with Stacie, who was one of my first portraits. As mothers, it tugs at something deep inside of us. Something in our womb. I felt it with Stacie and I also felt it with Nancy. She lost her son, taking his own life, and then 3 months into her mourning and another son perishes tragically in a snowmobile accident. My insides felt wounded for her. But wow - this woman is a powerhouse. The majority of our talk she was powerful, strong and firm. Where Nancy’s heart was tender and pierced was when she talked about missing her sons, and when she talked about what holes it has left in her family and heart. I hated to do it but I found myself digging a bit for Nancy’s sadness. She has put on this amazing shield of powerful armor for the talks, the interviews and social media. But at just 3 years fresh, I knew there was more down there, and I tried my best to show her it was safe to express and feel them with me. And she did. Her tears were so impulsive and almost caught me off guard. She moved through them and smiled on the other side. It doesn’t matter where or when tears come, thats not for us to judge. They just needed to have an open door and someone to hear them. None of us grieve the same, no matter if we lost the same person or not. Thank you Nancy for being a Face. Its clear the universe wanted us to meet."
“There is a thing that happens with loss. Families curb their words and don’t say certain things to protect each other. We both grieve very differently. Its hard to comfort each other because of that. We both lost Garrett and JT - but the grief and each of our processes is so different and personal. Grief I can be so isolating.”