A photographer from Tunbridge Wells who lost her husband suddenly five years ago has been using lockdown as a way of raising money for WAY Widowed and Young, which helped her cope with being widowed at a young age.
Former WAY member Lucy McKenzie, 37, started the 'doorstep portrait' project as a way of keeping busy during the pandemic when her five-year-old daughter returned to school.
“What struck me about the Coronavirus pandemic was how indiscriminate it is,” she said. “Otherwise healthy, young individuals are amongst those who are dying and, having lost my husband far too young, I know how devastating it is for the families left behind. It was the anniversary of Michael's death on 12 April, not long into lockdown, and I found it so hard not to be able to be with my parents and sister. When there are no words, hugs can say so much and bring huge comfort, and yet that most fundamental form of support was not an option available to us. It made me acutely aware of the additional pain and difficulty those widowed during this time would be facing and I wanted to be able to do something, however small, to help.”
Lucy has now photographed nearly 30 families on their doorsteps around her home in Kent, raising more than £1,700 for WAY, which will help to support more young widowed people across the UK.
“It’s so nice to be able to do something positive at such a difficult time and to help other people find out about WAY,” said Lucy.
One of the people Lucy photographed was Zoe, who coincidentally had also been widowed two and a half years earlier.
“For both of us it was quite a touching experience,” explained Lucy, who was able to photograph Zoe holding a rose that her was given to her by some very good friends after her husband died. “It was lovely to be able to feature her rose and to feel as if her husband was included in the photo.”
We asked Zoe why she wanted to get involved in the doorstep project?
“I decided to get involved with the project as the proceeds were going to WAY,” she told us. “It’s an organisation I had heard about but I had never actually met anyone who was a member. It was a good opportunity to find out a little more information.”
“Initially I was under the impression it would be just a doorstep photo and felt that my son and I should have a memory of lockdown that we could treasure always,” she said. “Having seen lots of families creating these special moments on their doorsteps I felt it was something simple and memorable we too could do.”
“As the sun was so bright a doorstep photo was not possible – so, following social distancing measures, we moved to the back garden where I began talking to Lucy about our experiences of being young widows with young children – it was so refreshing to talk to someone who understood.”
“I was asked if there was a special item that we would like to include and as my husband’s ‘remember me’ rose had bloomed that morning, it felt only right that we should include it - it was as if he was letting us know he’s still looking over us.”
“Talking to someone who has experienced the loss of a husband or wife and fully understands is like a breath of fresh air,” she said. “No comment is looked down upon and it makes you feel normal even if it is a different normal!”
“Lockdown has been tough on both my son and I – the feelings of loss have come in waves and not being able to hug family or friends when you need it has been very hard - but we have again got through a situation, which I never thought we would .... small steps all the way!”
So what did Zoe think of Lucy’s photos?
“The final photos have blown me away,” she said. “I am so pleased with them – and yes, I did cry when I first saw them .... I have received lots of lovely comments from friends and family.It has given me a real confidence boost the timing could not have been more perfect.”
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Caption: Below is one of Lucy's photos of Zoe with her Remember Me rose...