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Intimate Photos Tell Story Of A Beloved Grandmother's Final Days

Life is short. Embrace every moment.

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. 

  • Chiara Micheletti helps her mother Marisa Vesco take a shower in Cossato, Italy, June 7, 2015. Marisa suffered from incurable
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    Chiara Micheletti helps her mother Marisa Vesco take a shower in Cossato, Italy, June 7, 2015. Marisa suffered from incurable liver cancer and in the last months of her life she was not able to bathe herself. Her daughter Chiara cherished the time she was able to help her mother.
  • Chiara Micheletti helps to bathe her mother Marisa Vesco in Milan, Italy May 21, 2015. Marisa suffered from incurable liver c
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    Chiara Micheletti helps to bathe her mother Marisa Vesco in Milan, Italy May 21, 2015. Marisa suffered from incurable liver cancer and in the last months of her life needed assistance. Her daughter Chiara cherished the time she was able to help her mother. 
  • Old family photographs are seen on Marisa Vesco'•s bed as she works on creating a family album with her granddaughter, the ph
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    Old family photographs are seen on Marisa Vesco'•s bed as she works on creating a family album with her granddaughter, the photographer Gaia Squarci in Cossato, Italy, July 1, 2015.
  • Marisa Vesco smiles as she sinks her face into the chest of her granddaughter, the photographer Gaia Squarci in Cossato, Ital
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    Marisa Vesco smiles as she sinks her face into the chest of her granddaughter, the photographer Gaia Squarci in Cossato, Italy, February 5, 2015. This was the day Gaia learned her grandmother suffered from incurable liver cancer. 
  • Chiara Micheletti embraces her mother Marisa Vesco in her room at a hospice where she stayed for a month and a half before he
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    Chiara Micheletti embraces her mother Marisa Vesco in her room at a hospice where she stayed for a month and a half before her death in Biella, Italy, August 21, 2015. 
  • Marisa Vesco embraces her nephew Luca Squarci during a visit to Cossato, Italy, June 22, 2015. 
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    Marisa Vesco embraces her nephew Luca Squarci during a visit to Cossato, Italy, June 22, 2015. 
  • Marisa Vesco eats breakfast in her bed at her home in Cossato, Italy, June 24, 2015. Marisa suffered from liver cancer and a
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    Marisa Vesco eats breakfast in her bed at her home in Cossato, Italy, June 24, 2015. Marisa suffered from liver cancer and a loss of appetite during the last months of her life. 
  • Marisa Vesco eats ice cream in her bed in Cossato, Italy, June 30, 2015. Marisa suffered from liver cancer and a loss of appe
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    Marisa Vesco eats ice cream in her bed in Cossato, Italy, June 30, 2015. Marisa suffered from liver cancer and a loss of appetite during the last months of her life; eating ice cream was one of her few pleasures. 
  • Marisa Vesco'•s perfume bottles, almost all of which were empty, sit on the edge of the bath at her home in Cossato, Italy, F
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    Marisa Vesco'•s perfume bottles, almost all of which were empty, sit on the edge of the bath at her home in Cossato, Italy, February 5, 2015.
  • The pills taken by Marisa Vesco to alleviate the symptoms of liver cancer are photographed on her bed in Cossato, Italy, June
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    The pills taken by Marisa Vesco to alleviate the symptoms of liver cancer are photographed on her bed in Cossato, Italy, June 23, 2015.
  • Marisa Vesco'•s ashes are spread by her nephew Luca Squarci at her favorite location where she grew up near Cossato, Italy, D
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    Marisa Vesco'•s ashes are spread by her nephew Luca Squarci at her favorite location where she grew up near Cossato, Italy, December 16, 2015.
  • Marisa Vesco reaches for a magazine in a bedroom of her apartment in Cossato, Italy, June 7, 2015. 
    Gaia Squarci / Reuters
    Marisa Vesco reaches for a magazine in a bedroom of her apartment in Cossato, Italy, June 7, 2015. 

 

 

 

 

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