Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Therapeutic Photography – Making Peace With The Past Through Pictures

Carolina Avendano
Carolina is a Canada-based writer and journalist who enjoys learning and sharing information about how to lead a meaningful life. She is passionate about traditional culture, handmade crafts, the connection between humans and nature, and human rights.
Published: March 23, 2022
Shelley Lynch shares her story of how she turned grief into endless joy, following the loving guidance of her deceased husband. Therapeutic photography brought her happiness that she could share with others. (Image: Ben Mack via Pexels)

It was March 15, 2016 when Roy, Shelley Lynch’s husband, suddenly passed away from an aortic dissection. The unfortunate event had revealed itself in Shelley’s dreams a few nights before in the form of a plane crash, though at the time she took it as a simple nightmare. Similar supernatural visions would lead her to a journey of healing and sharing through therapeutic photography.

Shelley is a PhD and master’s graduate with a part-time clinical mental health counseling practice. Her husband Roy was a trained craniosacral therapist who was passionate about helping people to let go of trauma.

The couple had what Shelley describes as a “very close connection,” making his departure from this world a difficult reality for Shelley to accept. “To heal, I spent the first year paddle boarding every day at sunrise before work,” she said. “I was going through the motions of life but not really living.”

A connection that transcends death 

In her personal blog, Shelley shares that the relationship with her husband continued after his death. Their deep connection would allow her to sense his presence and feel his energy as very “palpable and solid.” 

Although she knew it was “a little crazy,” she was fully aware of hearing his voice in her mind, answering her questions and telling his usual jokes. “He made sure to joke and share things only Roy would say, helping me believe this was all true….real.” Through this, she understood that she had a very present, loving and engaging invisible husband.

photographic therapy
Shelley shares that Nature became her refuge during the most difficult days. “To heal, I spent the first year paddle boarding every day at sunrise before work.” (Image: Kansas Poetry (Patrick) via Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0)

After a year of facing this new reality, Roy came to her in a dream and told her, “I want you to have a professional Canon camera for Christmas.” Shelley shared that during their years together, Roy had the habit of taking pictures of everything to share the beauty his eyes saw. 

A new beginning

“He knew the camera would help me connect back to the natural healing of Mother Nature and bring me back to life,” Shelley says. She bought the camera two weeks later and started teaching herself, photographing the sunrise every day.

Nature became her photo studio and friendly companions would start appearing in her shots. “At the time, I knew dolphins came into the river where I live so I walked into the water at dusk and much to my surprise the dolphins came and I photographed their tails with cascading orange water from the sunset.”

It brought such joy to her life that she turned her visits into a habit. “Now, the dolphins include me in their pod, introduce their babies to me, and throw me fish,” she said. Her photography hobby developed into a meaningful passion, aimed at sharing with the world a message of hope.

Dolphins were Shelley’s companions in her journey back to her heart. “I enjoy watching who dolphins will interact with; it is definitely a conscious choice for them.” (Image: Claudia14 via Pixabay)

Shelley said that during one of Roy’s visits after his death, she asked him what he missed the most about being in a body. He said “I miss eating, drinking and driving- and all the aspects of why Beings come into bodies. I miss experiencing textures, tastes and the feel of the breeze on my face.” 

This made Shelley appreciate the fortune of being alive and cherish the simplest experiences “He reminded me to notice the trees, the birds, the breeze, all of Nature.” This became the essence of what she tries to convey with her photography.

A transformative experience

Today, Shelley thinks she is a completely different woman from who she was six years ago when her soulmate passed away. “At first I didn’t want life to go on, now I am excited about what’s next.” 

She shares that she finds endless joy in capturing the beauty of life with her camera, added to the pleasure of hanging out with dolphins and birds. “Pinch me, I have loads of joy! Who knew?!  Roy did.”

Although the journey that Shelley traveled to accept her loss was full of pain, it led her to find her own way back to peace, joy, and an open heart. Her story is narrated in a short documentary made by Shelley herself,  My Invisible Husband, where she shares the story of Roy’s sudden death, the dreams, her entry into photography, and her evolving relationship with dolphins.

Her encouraging story and the captivating pictures she takes of nature, have inspired countless people worldwide.

A priceless lesson

Shelley talks about one of the most valuable lessons she learnt in the process. One night, Roy told her “I am going to be leaving for a while so you will move on … It’s important for me to let go more,” and although Shelley wanted to keep Roy with her forever, she knew he was right. “He again encouraged me to let go more. Yes, more surrender is necessary.”

Ancient wisdom teaches that attachment is the root of all suffering. Thus, letting go is the key for a peaceful heart. (Image: truthseeker08 via Pixabay)

The Buddha school and the Tao School teach that everything in life happens for a reason and that letting go of attachments is the key to happiness, even if they involve our loved ones.  

Shelley encourages others to understand that there is no separation between the physical world and the non-physical world. “What I know for sure, is our loved ones can visit and assist, all we have to do is ask, trust and surrender.”

Shelly remarks in her documentary: “The sun rises and sets, life goes on.”

Shelley’s reflections and work can be found on her personal blog, social media pages and a New Smyrna Beach gallery displaying her wildlife photographs.