Jay Carrier

In a single year, Jay lost his mother, stepfather, and his brother. He’s been an artist as long as he can remember and has manage to find a kind of peace through his creative endeavors. He ended up creating a series of paintings that express certain parts of his grief journey.

My mom.

My step-dad.

My younger brother.

October of 2016, my mother had passed away. 12 days later, my stepdad passed away also. Not too long after that, my brother had passed away also. Within a year, I lost all three of them.

I've been an artist all my life. I’ve documented just about every phase of my life that I was going through. When all this happened, I was kind of immobilized, I kind of couldn’t do anything.

It was about six or seven weeks after my stepdad had passed away, I started doing art again. I needed to.

I got myself into a frenzy for days of just drawing and then it transferred into paintings and larger pieces. They were basically conversations with my mother and brother, and step-dad. I was trying to heal myself. Probably saved my life.

Eventually, I realized after a couple of years that I had to stop the series. I had to stop dwelling on the death of my three family members, and I had to move on.

The paintings documented a piece of my life, that was probably one of the most emotional, heart wrenching places I've ever been. It makes me feel better about the situation of loss.

I can be surrounded by these paintings and know that I honored my mother and brother and my step-dad.

Play Video placeholderJay Carrier: Feeling Outside of Things

You watch these people, and whether they’re at your workplace, or they’re social friends, or however that is, they’re in a place that maybe you once were, where everything was just, you know, okay, and I suppose that realization that you’re still in this emotional turmoil, this pain, this hurt, this whatever it is you’re going through. Whatever you thought was normal doesn’t really exist. We try to put on a good face and say, yeah, I can get through this, and everything is going to be okay. It’s not always the case. And, you’re watching all these people just go about their daily lives, and sometimes it’s kind of strange place to be.

Play Video placeholderJay Carrier: The Longing

It wasn’t that I was lonely. I have a very strong family within my sons and wife and we have good relationships and health relationships, and they helped me get through this pretty rough period in my life. It was more so that I’d longed for maybe a conversation, because obviously, my mum and I used to have some very in depth conversations about just about everything, mostly about religion and culture. It wasn’t that loneliness, so to speak, more so than a longing to see them one more time.

Play Video placeholderJay Carrier: The Permanence of Death

I guess what hit me very hard, was the permanence of it. The idea that this person was not going to be around anymore. That bothered me. Upset me. I had to come to terms with that idea that I would not see them anymore. . It’s shocking at first, but you accept the permanence of the loss. Over a period of time, you accept that. I’ve always believed that spiritually, that we have another place that we go to, everybody calls it Heaven, whatever you want to call that. That it was just basically a transcendence from one life to another. That helps me get over that, I would not have any conversations anymore with them. In my mind, and my heart, I believe that when I decease that I’ll meet them again.

Play Video placeholderJay Carrier: Talking About Your Grief

For myself, it’s the more I talk about it, the easier it is to understand, the easier, that’s maybe, easy is not a good word. I guess the more understanding. It shouldn’t, anyways, control your life. You still have to go on. You still have to live. You still have to nurture people in your life, your family members, you know, other members of your family, and you have to have that ability to be healthy. Within that period of grief, it’s, with me, it immobilized me. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t do anything, and whatever religious base or spiritual base that you stand on, I think those are healthy places to be, to understand that maybe there’s just a transference, and this, the idea that it’s permanent, the loss is permanent, I think that really affected me more so than anything. You know, and then rationalizing, I suppose, and that’s what I do, I suppose, you know, with things that are bothering me, rationalizing that it’s not permanent, that I do believe in a heaven, and that’s where I believe my brother, and mother, and dad are, and I’ll meet them there.

A closeup of a palette board covered with a rainbow of oil paint
An old framed photo of Jay Carrier's mother
Jay Carrier sits in a chair in his art studio surrounded by large format paintings

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