I lost my beautiful mother, age 55, to cancer June 7, 2013. It was a very rare internal squamous cell carcinoma and she battled it courageously for 5 years. She was incredibly strong, intelligent, and funny with a contagious laugh that has thankfully been passed on to me.

Being the youngest child in my family and the only daughter, with two wonderful older brothers, I was very close to my mom. She truly was my best friend and I never imagined I’d have to say goodbye to her when I was 26 and have to continue life without her. There are so many things we never got to do together. With that being said, I cling to the beautiful memories I have of her.

After she passed I fell into deep grief for 6 months. I quit my job because I couldn’t focus. I wouldn’t get out of bed, I even ate in bed. I pretended I was working because I’m a graphic designer so it was easy to pass it off if I had my computer on my lap. I cried myself to sleep most nights. I wracked up a large credit card debt. It was just a downward spiral and finally at one point I knew I had to pull myself out of it because it wasn’t going to change. I’ve found that it seems the “key” to grief is to channel it into something else. As a creative person I chose to channel mine into a form of art. I taught myself how to sew and fast forward to 1.5 years later I launched a stylish, empowering line of chemo hats called J. Etta Couture. These hats are a way for women undergoing chemo treatment to be able to express their unique style while getting the needed protection and comfort. These can be purchased through my Etsy store: J Etta Couture.

Channeling my grief into different forms of creativity is the only thing that helps me and keeps me going. Which is what led me to this adventure. A few weeks after my mom passed away I was devastated because I couldn’t find her wedding dress. I thought it was lost forever. Now 3 years later my dad found her dress and gave it to me.

I immediately called a good photographer friend of mine, Brent Koops, and asked if he would take photos of me in her dress for another memory to cherish. He does incredible work and I’m so thankful to now have these pieces. I know she would have loved to see me wearing her dress and doing creative projects in her honor. As a designer I’m going to work up a beautiful black and white side by side photo of my mom and I both in her dress to hang in my apartment.

More info: Etsy