Woman Puts On Mom's Clothes After She Dies Of Cancer, And Each Outfit Tells A Poignant Story Of Their Past — PHOTOS

Honoring love ones, and grieving after they pass, is a fraught and personal process. Polish born photographer Karolina Jonderko has preserved the memory of her mother by posing for poignant self-portraits while wearing her mother's clothes after she died of cancer. The project, titled "Self-Portrait With My Mother" is not only an homage to Jonderko, but a way to connect someone who has passed with their enduring existence inside those who remain and those who loved them. Jonderko's connection to her mother, and her grappling with loss, is beautiful and raw, and the nearly childlike sadness in her eyes in these pictures is imploring and haunting, giving us pause to think about time and our existence in it as not linear, but somehow more connected to love than to physical form.

Karolina writes,

"These clothes, even though second-hand, were good enough for Mum, she never felt the need to buy new ones. She preferred to save money for more important expenses. She always looked modest and didn't like black. Some say that what one wears is a part of creating one's identity. My mother, all her life, wore clothes that she hadn't chosen.

I've been reliving the past and have lived in the past since she passed away in 2008. All my work has been building on my memories and longing. "Self-portrait with my mother" is an attempt to summarise that period, move beyond the past - a final reconciliation with reality."

In finding ways to move on and cope with loss, Karolina has shared a same outer skin with her mother, in a powerful photo essay that transcends the binary of life and death. Here are some of Karolina's beautiful memory portraits, and her captions.

1. "Home" clothes.

I remember her sitting at the piano, focused, her hand tapping the rhythm, patiently listening to the rattle of her students, and I can still hear her gentle voice: let’s repeat this fragment. How was she able to listen to that; I do not know till this day. My sister and I would leave the house after few minutes.

2. "Wedding" clothes.

I am 7 years old, the early nineties, cousin’s wedding, 150 guests; I don’t know most of them. I am stuffing my mouth with a cake while watching my parents danc- ing to a bad version of Krawczyk’s song. My mother loved to dance and she was good at it. They looked great together, understanding without words. She did not like this type of feasts. Chatting with relatives, whom you see only at weddings and funerals. What to talk to them about? It’s much better to dance and send smiles."

3. "Work" clothes.

Small, badly furnished office in No 2 Primary School, that both I and my sister attended. On the door “The Principal of After School Activities”. Mum at her desk, writing a report regarding achievements of "Alkatras" (a club for youngsters with problems) and “Orlik” (club for children and teenagers) for a meeting meeting with the town mayor. I'm waiting patiently in the corner; I want to walk home with her.

4. "For the journey” clothes

The departure day. Crowd on the platform. I am clasping my mum's and sister's hands. Suddenly I am rising. It's my mum passing me to my dad through the compartment's window. I am followed by two suitcases. My mum and sister somhow join us. It's crowded and stuffy and like that for the next 14 hours. However, 2 weeks of seaside holidays are a worthwhile prize. Mum has prepared sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes and tea in a 'Wyborowa' vodka bottle, we have 'Happy Minutes' (a children's puzzle magazine in communist Poland). She loves the sea. She travels lost in her thoughts, I think she can already smell the sea and hear the waves and screeching seagulls. Her blue dress may be made from cheap material, but it doesn't crease and dries in 2 minutes - perfect for such journeys.

5. "Christmas" clothes.

It’s Christmas Eve, mom bustling in the kitchen, taking golden carp out of oven carefully as not to stain herself with the hot butter. She is even wearing makeup, green, to match the outfit. She’s happy. She loves Christmas. After dinner, she is sitting at the piano and we all are singing Christmas carols.

See more of Karolina's beautiful memories of her mother at her website.

Photos: Courtesy of Karolina Jonderko (6)