"Try Not to Judge Your Own Grieving Process": An Artist on Coping With Loss

"We are not idealized wild things. We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves," writes Joan Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking. It's one of the statements that struck model, artist, and creative agency Holland Studio co-founder Kate Parfet when she tragically and unexpectedly lost someone she loved. If you've read the book—or any of Didion's work, really—you know that she somehow articulates the inarticulable, blunt blow of losing a loved one and the self that gets misplaced along with them.

In frank, sincere language, Didion shows us how loss can destabilize and transform the things it leaves in its wake and that there really is no way to deal with it; there is no crux, no formula, no predictable path that promises healing and transcendence. So in response to her own grief, Parfet also wrote. Sometimes writing was "a necessity" and "the only way to get through the day," she tells us. She often wrote in the in-between times, like early mornings or late nights, and "it was almost like a sleep aid," she recalls. In these moments, she engaged in what Didion calls "magical thinking"—those thought patterns and headspaces that made her feel like she "could bring him back," Parfet explains. Eventually, this magical thinking turned into what is now Parfet's book of poetry, Mirror Domme.

When we asked her about the writing process and how it did or didn't help her through the early stages of grief, she explains that, in the beginning, writing "started as a resurrection," and by the end, when "you shut the book, it's the opposite. There's more of a finality to it." Read through our conversation with her below to learn how Parfet navigates loss and grief through artistic expression and get a glimpse inside her collection of lyrical, raw, and uninhibited poetry to find solace, connection, and more.