Only someone who has lost a loved one to illness knows the raw emotions felt in the last days of someone’s life. But in a new photo series, photographer Gaia Squarci gives us an intimate look at the most memorable moments she spent with her late grandmother before she died.
Squarci’a grandmother, who she called “Nonna Dida,” was diagnosed with liver cancer and passed away in October of 2015. Having survived two bouts of breast cancer, the family decided they would tell Nonna she was ill but never uttered the word cancer.
”In the moments we shared I had the chance to witness her keep all her dignity while letting go of the pride, confronting a fast-changing body without any shyness, and without ever losing her femininity,” Squarci wrote, describing the five months she spent in Italy with Nonna before her death.
The unforgettable photos chronicle Nonna’s rich life and show her at peace, whether she’s being given a bath, enjoying a gelato or cuddling with her grandchildren. A powerful image of her with her legs outstretched, surrounded by dozens of old family photos, shows her reflecting on her many memories.
The images depict Nonna feeling fulfilled and content with the life she’s lived, but they also helped Squarci deal with the loss.
“Nonna’s world shrank to a few walls and fewer streets,” Squarci wrote in a narrative for Reuters. “In this narrow existence, every detail and daily act took on deeper meaning.”
Scroll down to see all of the photographs.