Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Jones.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Ashley. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My daughter, Skylar, was diagnosed with a terminal condition when she was 2 months old. We were told that most babies with her condition don’t see their first birthday. My husband and I were young parents – the first of our friends to have a baby and certainly the first of our friends to lose one.
Many people didn’t know what to do or how to support us. Some friends just disappeared, but we had several close friends who supported us in amazing ways, including one couple who gifted us a portrait session to preserve memories with our daughter while we could. Those photos were an incredible gift. Skylar made it to 21 months old before we had to say goodbye.
Bringing her into this world through a natural delivery was tough, but holding her as she left was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
I was grateful for the photos while Skylar was alive, but after she was gone, I started realizing how critical the photos were to support me through grief. Photos gave me a space to grieve that was free from judgment, fear, and expectations. The tangible prints allowed me to hold my daughter when she wasn’t here to hold.
As a photographer, I wanted to give that gift to others. I volunteered to do a free portrait session to anyone I heard of who was facing a terminal diagnosis. I photographed my neighbor’s newborn son, who was active during labor, but he came out not breathing. They had him on life support for days, but couldn’t save him. I photographed a family at my church – Kevin, the dad, battled stage 4 melanoma cancer. I photographed my neighbor, Jim, who already had emphysema, and then was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I photographed other families with kids who had the same condition my daughter had. Family after family, I captured moments that celebrated life and heard stories of great impact the photos had once their loved one was gone.
As I did more and more sessions, my husband lovingly reminded me that we had our own bills to pay. I agreed but knew people who were facing a terminal illness were already facing a mountain of bills with more to come. That’s when I began to form Love Not Lost as a non-profit organization with plans to serve people around the world.
You can visit www.lovenotlost.org and look at “About Ashley” and “Our Story” to learn more. I’m happy to answer any questions you have and am an open book.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I like to think of my life journey as more of a trail instead of a road… some parts are paved and smooth, and some parts are full on mountain climbing and bushwhacking on an unplanned adventure.
If you’re truly living life, you’re guaranteed to have struggles, but that’s part of the beauty. My life has been full of struggles – from my parent’s divorce to my daughter’s diagnosis and my fight for my marriage. I know that doesn’t sound like beauty, but it’s been the struggles that have shown me my strength. It’s been the struggles that have revealed what true love is. It’s been the struggles that have taught me resilience. It’s been the struggles that have empowered me to find the courage and grow into the woman I was meant to be.
I have a two-part advice to share with other women: 1. Invest in yourself. Learn what it takes to love yourself and truly be content with who you are. Spend time discovering what brings you rest and provide care for yourself. Learn about things you are passionate about. And for the love of God, stop comparing yourself to anyone else but you.
2. Don’t look at struggles as setbacks. Expect them. Embrace them. They will show you your strength and challenge you to become a stronger, better person if you let them.
what should we know about Love Not Lost? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Love Not Lost is the resource people turn to for support when there is a terminal diagnosis, loss, or grief. Our mission is to celebrate life, preserve memories, and support people in grief.
Anyone facing a terminal diagnosis can apply on the Love Not Lost website to receive a free portrait session and a beautiful hand-crafted photo album that can be shared with future generations. We are honored to be invited into people’s lives to capture meaningful moments and help share a legacy.
We also recognize that grief and loss affect more than direct family members. Many people want to show their love and support, but don’t know what to do or how to help. We have a resource page on our website that empowers and equips the greater community to show up for the people they love.
The driving question of Love Not Lost is “How can we love people better?” because we believe that everyone deserves to be loved and remembered.
For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
Women, men, and non-binary individuals all bring unique gifts, perspectives, and strengths to the table, which is why it’s important that we all have a seat and a contributing voice at that table.
There are opportunities all around us. I think it’s important for women and minorities to recognize that you will be overlooked for opportunities because of who you are, but that doesn’t mean you are less because of it. Know who you are. Know what you want. Be bold, and make it happen. Don’t be afraid to create opportunities for yourself!
- You can sponsor a photo book for $250
- You can gift a session for $970
- You can help grow our photographer program in ATL for $1,700
- We are searching for key philanthropy partners to help us spread to new cities who can give $20,000 or more
- Address: Love Not Lost
1551 Dunwoody Village Parkway,
Dunwoody, GA 30338
- Website: www.lovenotlost.org
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/lovenotlost.org
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/lovenotlost.org
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/lovenotlostorg
- Other: www.ashleynicolejones.com
The Willetts, Love Not Lost