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Love and loss

What does home mean to you?

For many it's about the people they live with.

Family and friends can make a home as much as furnishings and possessions.

Home is a place where we might experience both positive and negative relationships, love and loss.

These experiences can build or disrupt our sense of comfort and belonging.

Two photos hung on a grey wall. Each photo depicts families sitting in their living rooms. Photograph by Em Fitzgerald, images from Missing © Kyna Gourley
Three paintings in gold frames on a dark blue wall Photograph by Em Fitzgerald

Stories to look out for

A young person sitting on their bed in a room decorated with posters © Kyna Gourley. Object number 300/2012

Growing Care, 2002

Lennicia, aged 14, cares for her mother who has sickle-cell anaemia.

'Sometimes, it feels good to know that you're caring for somebody else. But other times you feel selfish and guilty when you want to do things for yourself.

When Mum is in hospital I stay with different people, so I feel like I'm coming and going.

I worry about her when she gets really ill. Once she was so bad she couldn't remember my name – it was like she was in a coma. Now she's bad so I stay with her most of the time.'

Oil painting of two adults in a darkened room, one holding a baby Object number 17/2002

Painting, A M Rossi, about 1885

In the 1800s elaborate mourning practices became important for women to show their family devotion and respectability.

If their husbands died, many women were expected to spend at least two years in mourning dress, even at home. There were rules about what colours and types of fabrics could be worn, as well as an expectation that they would not go to social events in the first year.


A person sitting on a green sofa in front of windows with green curtains © Kyna Gourley. Object number 301/2012-5

Missing, 2006

In 1999, 29-year-old artist Matthew O'Reilly left the family home and never returned.

His father, Timothy: 'A couple of months after he disappeared, I was trying to get down in time for a phone call… we didn't have a mobile… and I had had a hip replacement just after Matthew left. The phone was ringing and ringing and when I got to it the person rang off.

It was a shock to him, because he expected us to be here. Well, we were here but we didn’t get to the phone in time.'