Independent curator and writer Marvin Heiferman is one of legions of people whose lives were upended suddenly when their beloved died of Covid. He found himself utterly bereft. Having to navigate “the gap between public and private experiences of death and grieving”, he found an amazingly beautiful and poignant way of doing it. He created @whywelook, a very personal, very original instagram feed, photographing and notating things he has encountered in the days since his partner died: memories, the subtlest of details, the unchartered territory of grief. In doing so, he found a new form for mourning: a way of grieving communally, a kind of “photographic shiva”.

There’s not a moment that is trite or maudlin or downer in all the posts we’ve seen. Heiferman has created an expansive, multi-dimensional, organically-wrought work that, for us, goes beyond memorial. It is a complex and nuanced tribute — a kind of bearing witness —to the ephemeral experiences of daily life.

Marvin Heiferman@whywelook

Maurice and I used to wake up and declare ‘Do Something New’ days, when we’d get in the car and drive around on roads and to places we’d never been. With nothing to do and no one to do nothing with, I made today a ‘Do Something New’ day and hit the brakes when I came upon this tiny one-room schoolhouse from 1860, which we’d never seen before…

When we’d get to the house, when lilacs began to bloom, we’d get out of the car to take a look. And once the flowers opened and fragrance spread, we face-dived into them.

The day we watched ‘Straight Jacket’

Sadness: expected. Grief: unpredictable

Marvin Heiferman @whywelook

Lilies of the Valley, flagrant, delicate, Maurice’s favorite. We dug them up and transplanted them from a late friend’s garden, twenty years ago, as a way to remember her, someone Maurice adored. I’m thinking of them both today, having cut some stems, put on my desk and filled the room with scent and memories…

A detail of a printout of a screenshot of a digital image of a moment of happiness

The third spring

WHY WE LOOK? Our favorite sign in Albany.

Read more about Martin Heiferman’s @whywelook at the New Yorker.

Related Posts

If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

Support Improvised Life ♥

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *