The founder and editor-in-chief of The Luna Collective, an acclaimed online platform and print magazine for creatives, Sophie Gragg has managed to build an exquisite community over the last few years, encouraging positivity, art and activism.
She channels these qualities perfectly herself, and is reflective and heedful as we talk.
Sophie’s love for the people she knows, and the opportunities she has, is evident, along with her determination to always be genuine and stand up for what is right. It is these traits that make her reflective and easy to not only talk to, but also respect and admire.
In this conversation with Sophie, we delve into her relationship with death over the years, how the thought of it affects her creativity, and what she would be willing to die for.
photo: nikoli partiyeli
Push up Daisies: What has your relationship with death always been like, and how do you view it now?
Sophie: I think I’ve always seen death as something that doesn’t have to be a be-all and end-all. I do believe in some sort of afterlife, I don’t know what I necessarily believe in—but I always feel like death is just a part of life and it’s an end chapter, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t another book after that.
When I was younger, I didn’t really experience a lot of death. The first time I experienced a family member passing away was when I was about fifteen, I think? My grandpa passed, and that was really hard for me because it was the first person in my life that died that I was close to, and it wasn’t really a fun death—not that there are fun deaths—but it was really tragic. I hadn’t dealt with that before, so it really impacted me.
And that made me understand how grief is not a simple process. This happened years ago and it’s still really hard for me to deal with. So the thing that I’ve learnt is that grief is definitely a lifelong thing, it's not as simple as time moving forward and the healing starts. You cannot just move forward, but that doesn’t mean that it is something that people hold with them forever. I don’t think grief is a bad thing, and I don’t think we should be ashamed of it—it’s just a part of life. I also don’t fear death in any way because if something were to happen to me tomorrow, I’m very proud of my life and very proud of myself. I feel good about where I’m at.
I think I’m really lucky I haven’t experienced a lot of deaths, and that definitely impacts the way I think about it. So, I try to think of it less as a depressing thing—because it is really depressing—and more as just a part of life that opens up a new chapter.
Push up Daisies: Are you spiritual or religious? How do you think your culture/ideals affect your perception of death?
Sophie: I’m not very religious. I was baptized a Christian, my family’s Christian, but I don’t really… align with that.
I am very spiritual, but I grew up being told, like, very much a heaven-hell type thing. So I grew up with a perception of heaven and hell and then as I got older, I realized I might not necessarily align with that completely.
I do believe, to an extent, in reincarnation and souls and past knowledge about stuff, I believe that some people have been here before, I believe that there are certain people in my life that I’ve known in a previous life—but it’s not black and white to me, like: you die and if you’re a good person, you go to heaven. If you’re a bad person, you go hell. I don’t have that mindset.
Push up Daisies: As a creative, how does the thought or fear of death inspire you? Does it ever drive you to create more?
Sophie: Yeah, definitely. I think there’s so much I want to achieve in my life. I also think there’s just like a weird pressure to be successful so young. And I try to not let that affect me in a negative way. I try to let that inspire me rather than add pressure.
I don’t think of it as “I want to do these things before I die.” I think of it as “this is what I want to accomplish when I’m alive.”
So yes, it pushes me in that way but—maybe it’s really narcissistic, but I don’t ever think of myself dying, I just think, like, “I’m immortal! I’m going to be in my twenties forever!” But yeah, it definitely pushes me forward, like, “Okay, there’s a lot I want to do. Now’s the time to do it. Let’s get going.”
I also really hope that our generation can shift that culture of achieving so much so young. It's like if you’re not on top of the world by like 22, your life is over—which makes no sense because when you look at the really, really successful people, they’re not successful until like, their twenties, mid-thirties. So as much as I’m a part of that mindset, I would really like to shift that.
Push up Daisies: How would you like to be remembered?
Sophie: I want to be remembered as someone that helped a lot of people, just because the reason I started Luna was to help creatives and shine a light on them.
I’ve always been really interested in the entertainment industry, but I’ve also always been interested in the service non-profit industry, and I feel like service comes down to helping others, so I’d like to be known as someone who was innovative in what they created, and they created something that was impactful and helped people and brought them together.
Push up Daisies: What are you most proud of in your life?
Sophie: I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve built. I try to be a genuine person, I try to be open and there for people.
I have moments where I look around and see who my friends are, especially when I have Luna events, and I see who pulls up, and I realize how lucky I am.
Not only do I have really good friends, but I’ve also built good relationships with a lot of people, to the point where they care enough to support me, and that’s just a really awesome thing. I see that translate across people that I work with or people that follow Luna, and I like to think that I’ve built a positive relationship and community, so I’m very proud of that.
Push up Daisies: How does the thought of death affect your everyday life? In what ways can it be healthy to contemplate death?
Sophie: It’s not usually on my mind, but I guess lately with Covid19, it’s slightly on the mind, even though there’s a huge, arrogant part of myself that’s like “Oh, I’m fine, that won’t affect me.”
But my mom’s just always told me, “Live in the moment, go get it, you don’t know what could happen.” And it’s true.
As much as I haven’t had a lot of death in my life, we have all had shit in our life and it’s just taught me to just do what you want to do while you can, tell people how you feel when you can, try to live in the moment, definitely plan but your plans might always change—right now is a great example.
I feel like in the past couple of months, we’re being forced to truly live presently—and I guess it goes back to what I was saying earlier—if you want to do something, do it now. You don’t know what could happen. For me, I also try to bring that in for emotional things—like not living with regret, but also not holding on to things. It’s okay to process emotions and hold on to things to an extent, but there’s no point carrying such negative energy with you, so I guess I focus on moving forward, and bringing forward the things that help me be a better person.
Push up Daisies: Is there something that you would be willing to die for?
Sophie: That’s an interesting question, especially now—with the US, all the riots—I was talking to my friend about it, he’s a black man, and we were really thinking about it, and I mean—I would die for my mom, I would die for some of my friends—but I would die for a greater cause, no problem. I would put myself in front of the black community with all this police brutality, no problem. I saw a tweet that said, “you’re not a white ally unless you’d be willing to truly stand between them.”
And I thought, “yeah, I would.”
I would definitely be willing to die for this cause. It’s stupid that anyone should have to die for it, but I think I’d die for a greater causes like that, and certain individuals in my life.
But the thing for me is that I’m white. If I stand between a policeman and a black man, I would be okay. I won’t have to die for it. I would be fine, which is so crazy. Oh, to live in America.
Push up Daisies: What are your ideal and worst ways to die?
Sophie: Ideal—I guess fighting for something. But also, I don’t want to die in a super violent way because I think it would somehow pass on trauma into the next life—because I really do believe in that. Also just for my family and friends—like I think it’s really horrible when someone you know dies of something like that. But if it was for a greater cause or protecting someone, I’d be okay with that.
I know this is super controversial but once I hit a certain age and I’m starting to shut down and really going downhill, I would like to go on my own terms. Not in a selfish way, but I don’t want my kids and family to see me basically on my deathbed.
I know that Oregon recently legalized assisted suicide, which I don’t know why there’s such an outrage about. It’s horrible seeing someone decay and not really be a person for years. I went through that with my grandmother and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. So I feel like the second it’s not working out for me, I would rather just go and not put my family and friends through that. And I think that’s becoming a more common mindset too. That’d be ideal for me.
Worst way, I guess, would be something really violent—I don’t know, that freaks me out, I guess I watch too much crime—or also, something random. Like violent, random. No motives, no reasoning. Because I feel like your families don’t get peace.