The vision for Love Not Lost came from Ashley's Story. Having a daughter with a terminal illness, and being gifted portrait sessions, Ashley wanted to pay it forward and started offering free portrait sessions to anyone she met with a terminal diagnosis. As she donated more and more sessions, she realized that something greater was taking shape.
As this shape was forming into a non-profit, Ashley asked three key friends to join her on the board of directors. Trey Boden, the friend who gifted Ashley and her family the portrait session, was the first member. Austin Grigg, another cherished friend who consistently helped walk through their journey and loss, serves on the board too. Marie Nicole Wedekind, a valued friend who came along after Skylar died, was the third to join. Ashley knew these friends would have not only the talent, but more importantly, the heart, to get Love Not Lost off the ground with her. Since then, our board, our staff, our volunteers, and our heart to serve has continued to grow.
Love Not Lost is on a mission to revolutionize the way we grieve in America. We started by photographing people facing a terminal diagnosis to capture beautiful memories for those they love. Through our photography program, each family is given a hand-crafted custom-designed photo album with the best photos from their session to enjoy and pass along to the next generations. As we photographed more and more families, we kept hearing similar stories: sometimes we were the only ones showing up. Friends, family, communities were disappearing leaving these people feeling alone, unloved, and abandoned by the ones they thought they could count on for support.
As Ashley would speak at events, people would continually come up to her saying things like, “My co-worker just lost a baby, what do I do?” or “My friend’s dad just died, how can I be there for her?” We saw a community of people who wanted to help and show up for the people they loved who were hurting but they didn’t know how. This inspired us to launch our grief & empathy program in addition to our photography program. You can see some of the Grief & Empathy Tools we’ve created to help equip and empower people to support their loved ones in grief, but there’s more on the way!
Our driving question for everything we do is:
How can we love people better?
Whether it's the people we serve through photography, their loved ones, our staff, our photographer volunteers, our donors, or the community we are a part of, we are continually looking for ways to love people better.
We believe the absence of love is suffering. So when someone is suffering because of their circumstances, the last thing they need is to feel unloved or abandoned on top of their existing struggles. Not only do we (Love Not Lost) want to show up for people facing grief through the free portrait sessions, but we want to empower and equip you (the greater community of people who love them) to show up and love them better too. Our hope is that we can change the way we grieve so that everyone feels loved and cared for when they are hurting.
The world we envision is one where we can overcome fear, show up in the midst of suffering, and love well, regardless of circumstances. We would like to invite you to join us to love people better and support people in grief.