by Sara Qandil

I entitled my piece of photography ‘lost’ as I feel it encompasses some of the emotions experienced having ‘lost’ a loved one. As the title suggests, there is literally a feeling of being ‘lost’. The photograph is a page from my diary during the week following my father’s death. To reminisce on some of the emotions I experienced during this time, reading my diary felt like a good place to start.

Ishtaetelak ad elba7r O samakatoh, Ishtaetelak ad essama O njmatto  is something that my dad would often write to me. 

Translated, these words read - I miss you as much as the sea is big and as many as its fishes, I miss you as much as the sky is big and as many as its stars. In addition to being very sentimental, I feel they encapsulate the impossible and hopeless feeling of yearning for someone who is gone.

For five years my father’s illness was the focus of our lives. When he suddenly disappeared, the world no longer had order and didn’t make sense. I edited the original drawing in my diary by producing multiple images of the fish and arranging them in swirls to highlight the surreal feelings that arise in bereavement.  Again, the numerous stars serve to highlight that the feeling of missing someone is infinite. The moon and star together are utilised to connote with the holy star and crescent symbol in Islam. It felt necessary to illustrate this in my picture, as religion played a dominating role in my bereavement process. I chose to blur the remainder of the page to symbolise that we usually consider bereavement to be a personal and private time. In addition, I wanted to emphasize the central images to highlight my main point. I feel that amongst the wide range of negative thoughts and feelings I had that day; the most overpowering and persisting emotion was missing him. The anger, confusion and frustration faded with time, but I’ll always miss my dad. 

Taking positivity from my father’s terminal illness seemed impossible initially, but I realise now that persistence in the face of adversity can help build resilience. I wonder if this quality was always within me and if we all possess a certain level as an inborn trait. Perhaps in some cases, we must be confronted with a challenging situation before our resilience becomes apparent.

I’ve always found it a challenge to articulate the events that occurred during this period of my life. Therefore, in many ways I found the process of reflecting through my artwork therapeutic and hope this may provide a resource to help me practice holistic care in the future.

Sara Qandil, Whole Person Care, Year One, 2013