It’s no secret, grief comes in waves, one minute you’re fine and the next a holiday will roll around or someone else you love becomes gravely ill or passes away and it brings back old memories. When someone you love becomes sick, you’re often left wondering what you can control, as it seems you’ve lost control of nearly everything. After renowned photographer Stacy Bass’ mother Jessica Waldman was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer in January 2018, she started the I Love Mom project in February of the same year as a way to instill hope for her and her mother. Stacy stated that “I just felt like I needed to do something positive to help her while medicine did whatever it could do.”
Stacy had set a goal to post photos of her mother daily on Facebook for a year to provide encouragement and cheer her mother on. They were going to create a book once her mother had beaten cancer. Sadly, Stacy’s mother passed away in January 2019 just shy of a year from their initial post. Stacy stayed true to her promise to her mom and published a book called “I Love You, Mom” which is filled with photos of her beautiful mother and their daily social media posts. The book is chock full of inspiration and filled with beautiful memories of Stacy’s mother’s life – from Jessica’s childhood to winning a date with the one and only Bobby Darin, her engagement to Stacy’s father, family vacations, motherhood, cherished times with her beloved daughter, husband Carl and extended family!
When I was asked to interview Stacy Bass about her I Love Mom project, I had many questions, one, in particular, was how do you stay positive when grieving? I was a caregiver for many years for my grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer’s. She passed away in October 2015, and her birthday is also in the same month. When October rolls around I change, I do everything I possibly can to not feel the pain of grief, which is tough.
With the holiday season quickly approaching, I wanted to share my interview prior to Thanksgiving as I know how difficult grief can be, especially during the holiday season. Like Stacy, my parents taught me to always look for the good and as I mentioned above, when times are tough, it can be a struggle. I can honestly say that my interview with Stacy has changed my view on being vulnerable and sharing my grief. I realized that not posting photos of my flower farm on Instagram or of my dogs that everyone loves was not hurting me, but the people who look forward to seeing them! I’d like to thank Stacy not only for this interview but for brightening my spirits! I hope that you feel the same way I did about this interview. I also encourage you to donate $20 to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer research! With your $20 donation, you will receive Stacy’s beautiful eBook and you’ll help find a cure for pancreatic cancer. 100% of your donation goes toward pancreatic cancer research.
*Please enjoy a few screenshots from Stacy’s ebook and images from her book “Gardens At First Light.”
How Stacy Bass Was Inspired To Create Daily Social Media Posts
Candie Anderson: Can you tell us about your story and your inspiration to create daily social media posts?
Stacy Bass: “My mom was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer the first of the year 2018. After that first month of struggling through all of the fear, unknowns, tests and doctors and everything that goes along with that (as I’m sure a lot of people can appreciate how hard that is, I just felt like I needed to do something positive to help her while medicine did whatever it could do.
I started to post on Facebook starting February 1st, 2018 every day until my mom passed away just shy of a year later. My goal was really to create a community of support around her. As a photographer, images are my language and comfort zone. I hope that sharing photos from her life each day would be a way to delight, honor and pay tribute to her, but also importantly to offer her strength along the way.”
How Her View Of Social Media Has Changed
Candie Anderson: How has your view of social media changed over the course of the project?
Stacy Bass: “Truthfully, I was always a happy user of social media. I really feel like in particular with Facebook its core strength is community and connection. I think that a lot of people think of social media sometimes as a place to only share the best and the beautiful, but I think it’s important to not be afraid to be earnest and authentic and real and share something that is difficult or sad. I don’t think people are quick to do that, I think it makes people feel vulnerable, but I’m here to say in doing so I was astonished by the amazing community that built up around this movement if you will.”
How Social Media Can Encourage You Through Hard Times
Candie Anderson: You’ve really inspired me. Birthdays, holidays and anniversaries can be so tough. I was a caregiver for my grandmother until she passed away and just last month I had a really hard time because it was the anniversary of her death and her birthday. I wanted to post on social media, but there were so many emotions. Do you have any tips for people like me who tend to shy away or isolate themselves on social media when grieving?
Stacy Bass: “For me, the regularity of it is really what helped me. I won’t tell you that I didn’t sit at my desk typing or making the post crying, I did. Not every day, but lots of days. I think that part of that was part of the process. It really helped me to work through what was happening before me, especially when I couldn’t control it. It was something that we could count on, she could count on, I could count on – actually, the community of people around us started to count on. People who didn’t even know her, who were looking forward to the posts and getting to know her one day better.
I think it’s important to believe that there are people out there who are wanting to support you and that if you share what you’re going through, you’d be amazed at the strength of that support that people are there to offer.”
How To Be Present In Your Relationships and Express How You Feel When Times Are Tough
Candie Anderson: What did you take away from this experience and what do you hope to share with others?
Stacy Bass: “Well, as we just talked about, I think my hope is to encourage people to be present in their relationships and take the time to express how you feel when you can, whether you’re dealing with someone who has a chronic illness or a life-threatening illness or just someone going through a difficult time that it’s so important to express that. I realize that not everybody has access to countless pictures of loved ones they’re hoping to honor, but there’s lots of ways to do a daily affirmation like this or even a weekly one if that feels more comfortable. It doesn’t have to be a photo, you can share an anecdote or a story or share something special about the life they led or places that they liked to visit. It really could be anything, but I think one of the incredible gifts of things like Facebook is that expansive community that you would otherwise not have access to there to really help you through a difficult time.”
How To Find More Information On The I Love Mom Initiative
Candie Anderson: I have to mention your Instagram is absolutely stunning. If there’s anything that could inspire anyone it’s just looking at those gorgeous gardens and the beautiful architecture.
Stacy Bass: “Thank you, I appreciate that. I think that my hopes by speaking about this on radio is to inspire other people. Obviously, I’m interested now in how to trying to help raise funds for cancer research so other people don’t have to suffer the losses that we have. If people are interested in seeing all of the posts, the best way to do that is to just Google ‘Stacy Bass and the I Love You Mom Initiative’, and you’ll be taken to the Lustgarten Foundation page. I’ve partnered with them – the leading pancreatic cancer research foundation in the country. For a donation of $20 or more, you’ll then receive an ebook emailed to you where you’re able to see all of the posts as well as an introduction and some other things about the process.”
Stacy Bass Bio
A political science/photojournalism major from Barnard College, Columbia University, Stacy Bass began to focus on fine art and commercial photography in college, and then studied at the Maine Photographic Workshops– with masters Jay Maisel, Joe Baraban and William Albert Allard. From her first solo exhibition in 1988, her fine art work has become part of numerous private, corporate and hotel collections and her images and unique perspective continues to tap into the emotion and sensibility of a wide spectrum of viewers.
Always with an eye and an interest in all things visual, her career ambitions have taken her through numerous magazine positions, including a senior position at fine art photography start-up: On Seeing. Stacy is also a graduate of NYU School of Law where she concentrated on Copyright, Trademark, Art and Entertainment law and later used her expertise to become vice president of a publicly traded motion picture and television company, Savoy Pictures Entertainment, Inc.
Stacy’s passion for capturing light, color and the essence of place manifests itself in her images. For the last 14 years, Stacy has been shooting architecture, interiors, lifestyle and gardens for high-end shelter magazines as well as for designers and other advertising clients. In 2007, she mounted a solo show of her botanical images called First Light, at Gallerie Je Reviens. This sold out show was also a fundraiser for the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, CT. Stacy followed this with a solo show of her personal work called Speak, Memory, which was mounted at Amy Simon Fine Art in 2009.
Stacy’s first two landscape photography and bestselling books, In the Garden (2013) and Gardens at First Light (2015), garnered outstanding reviews and @gardensatfirstlight has a following of over 100,000. Her next book project, Gardens by the Sea (Vendome Press) is slated for release in 2021.