In the year since her partner Joseph's sudden and tragic death in April 2022, Kelsey has worked tirelessly to keep his memory and presence a part of her life. We spoke to her about their relationship and the ways she has learnt to survive through her grief.
Whose print is on your pieces and why is it special to you?
The print on my pieces is that of my fiance Joseph. He tragically passed away in an accident at the end of April 2022 while we were living together in the UK, 8 months before our wedding date. My world stopped that day. There is a complexity to partner loss that can be hard for people to comprehend. Every single thing in your life changes - the way you sleep, eat, how you spend every moment, which has been extremely layered and complex for me. For my own survival, I made the move to another city for a fresh start away from so many painful reminders, and at times I feel like there are only fragments of Joseph and my life together left. It has been so extremely important to me to keep him alive for me in my life in ways that feel special and intentional, and my pieces from Linden Cook are one of the ways I have been able to do that.
Can you tell us how you came to make these pieces?
In the days after Joseph passed away, my friends from home in New Zealand came across these impression pieces and sent them to me. We spoke to the funeral home in the UK about doing molds of his fingerprints, and we also had ink prints taken of his hands. The molds didn't leave enough of an impression, and so the ink prints ended up being the more viable option for us to use. The team at Linden Cook helped me to pull together 13 different pieces for me and Joe's family and friends, including a selection of rings, a bracelet, necklace, and pendants. I have the gold signet ring and the necklace. I cried the day they arrived to me in New Zealand. It's one of the first things I mention to people now if they lose someone close to them, to get prints taken so they have their own pieces made.
What is your favourite thing about Joseph?
Gosh, it's so hard to pick one. Joseph was the most self-aware person I have ever met, and he was committed to continuously bettering himself in ways you couldn’t help but admire. He was so many people's favourite person. He laughed at everything, others and himself. Whenever he tried to make a joke, he would be laughing at it well before he delivered the punchline. He always thought he was hilarious. It’s the first thing so many people pointed out to me about him when they met him, how much he laughed and smiled. And I think that’s one of the most beautiful qualities someone can have, because it makes everyone around them feel so good. He was so gentle and empathetic. And he was always so present, in every conversation he had a genuine curiosity when it came to people, who they were, and what made them tick. Selfishly, I miss the way he made me feel about myself, and the peace in my heart his presence brought me, I've never felt a connection like that with someone, he was that once-in-a-lifetime person for me.
Can you tell us a little more about yours and Joseph's relationship?
Joseph and I balanced each other out in all of the best ways. As a partner, Joseph was the very best. He was devoted to me, incredibly kind, and very protective. When we lived in London, I would make my way to Bristol and back once a week for work. On my way home each week, I would message him once I had reached Paddington station, to let him know I was getting on the tube to Islington. And each and every week he would message me back to say, ‘cool, walk home safely’. But we both knew I would walk out of the station and he would be waiting there, without fail, to walk me home. We just loved each other's company above everything else. We traveled around Europe and the US together, visited some incredible places, and made amazing memories, but what I miss most is just laughing on the couch with him, doing our Sunday grocery shop together, or hearing his key in the lock. The smallest of things take up the biggest space in my heart.
What are some of the other things you have done in Joseph's memory since his passing?
I am always trying to think of ways I can honour Joseph and ensure he is still a huge part of my life. I find that doing intentional things, especially on hard dates has helped to give me some type of purpose and feel spiritually connected to him in my day-to-day life. Joseph was a huge hat guy, and I had nine of his most loved hats framed to sit next to his casket at his service, these are now hanging on my wall in my lounge in Melbourne. I then had either one or two hats framed for his family and friends. Joseph and I loved taking polaroids, and I had all of these framed with special protective glass so they wouldn't fade. On our wedding day, I had the letter J tattooed on my ring finger, and butterflies on the back of my arm to match the butterfly he had. I also had another signet ring made with his initials instead of a wedding band. On the one-year anniversary of his passing, I planned a memorial at the beach with sunflowers, and I had his handwriting tattooed on me. I also have a puppy now, and I gave her the girl's name we liked and Joe's last name - Rumi Day. I hope to do many more over the years, including buying a piece of land in the far north of New Zealand in his memory, as this was our favourite place.