One mum has created a photo project to highlight that while child loss is a painful, heartbreaking experience, it’s also totally okay to talk about.
Susana Butterworth experienced a stillbirth with her first son in March 2017. Because of this, she wanted to commemorate him in a meaningful and memorable way, and so she started the Empty Photo Project.
Talking to Huffpost UK, Susana said: ‘I started this project after my firstborn son, Walter sadly passed away.’
As a photographer and artist it felt natural to Susana to make something meaningful out of her heartbreaking experience.
The 23-year-old admitted: ‘I want the viewers of the Empty Photo project to see that child loss hurts, it’s a little scary but it’s ok to face it.’
During her pregnancy, Susana found out that her unborn son had trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, a rare but serious genetic condition that causes severe medical problems.
At 35 weeks’ pregnant she gave birth to her son, on 8 March 2017.
Susana noticed that, during Walter’s funeral, people treated and spoke to her differently.
‘It seemed to me that those around me were patting me emotional oven mitts,’ she said. ‘Most would completely avoid the topic of children, family or my loss in general.’
She shares her work through her Instagram account, and the series has given many women the opportunity to open up about their own experiences, with one saying: ‘Losing a child is something that nobody wants to talk about. Even myself most of the time, if I’m being honest.’
However, Susana explained to the title that starting the Empty Photo Project was to a way to open the conversation about a topic that many shy away from.
‘Those who have lost children can’t heal if they feel alone and have no one to talk to. I created this project to open up the dialogue on child loss because of the stigma.’