The Grief Diaries was founded in June 2015 by Kristi DiLallo, a writer and editor based in New York City. At the time of the magazine’s inception, Kristi had just completed her first year in the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia University, where she began writing a grief and trauma memoir. After her work was met with the criticism that it was exploitative to meditate on a family tragedy within a narrative, she became aware of the stigma around the act of grieving publicly through art.
Kristi wanted to know if this stigma only applied to writing about grief, or if it affected artists working in other genres and mediums of art as well. At the beginning of the summer, she posted an anonymous ad on Craigslist asking strangers to send her their art about grief. By the end of the first day, she received an overwhelming number of responses in the form of poems, paintings, songs, letters, and more. Each response was private and personal, like anonymous diary entries that no one else would ever see. These artists did not focus solely on the experience of mourning the loss of a loved one, but their ideas of what it means to grieve moved far beyond the traditional. Many of the artists confessed to being ashamed of and embarrassed by their grief, explaining that creating art in private was the safest way for them to grieve.
In less than 24 hours, Kristi learned several new definitions for “grief,” so she decided to create a safe space to publish art that explored many different interpretations of loss. Since then, The Grief Diaries has become a community of exceptional artists and writers where grieving out loud—no matter what the loss itself looks like—is always encouraged. To find out more about Kristi's journey to find the language of grief, read her essay about creating The Grief Diaries in Guernica Magazine.
At The Grief Diaries, our all-female editorial board aims to publish work by and for communities who are often underrepresented in the arts—women, artists of color, members of the LGBTQ community, disabled persons, etc.