Time Frame > Beyond Active Grieving


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Just a word about photographs -

It's coming up on 12 years for me. About a year ago, I went through several boxes of photos and other memorabilia from Cathryn's high school days. I don't know anyone in the photos (well, except her) and obviously my kids don't either. Her parents are gone and I don't keep in touch with her sisters so there's no one who can relate to anything in those boxes. As another poster said, priceless but worthless.

I decided to get rid of them. They were useless to us now. I'm sure she worked hard to put those albums together and it almost felt like I was erasing her younger days. It was hard, but it was the right thing to do. Less clutter is a good thing for us (we had a lot of clutter for too long and it really affected our lives negatively).

That got me thinking about other photos/memorabilia. The family photos will obviously mean something to my kids. But MY teen photos already don't. I guess while I'm alive I'll keep them. But I fully expect my kids to toss them once I'm gone. Actually, I did that recently with my parents' photos. I'm sort of the family historian and all the family photos were entrusted to me. I scanned most of them and sent them to my brothers. But any photo where I couldn't identify at least one person got tossed.

And so it will continue to go - from generation to generation. My kids will one day have photos that THEIR kids will toss. Thinking about it that way makes it easier to keep some that are important to me (the ones with Cathryn in them) and not keep all the rest.



--- Quote from: Leadfeather on March 06, 2018, 08:58:17 AM ---I started purging last summer in preparation for a move next year. The easy stuff. Filled a dumpster with scrap lumber, old furniture, every single box from every single thing we ever purchased. (Not sure why we had to save all that stuff anyway.) I actually threw the lumber away twice, once when she was alive, she explained that it was useful and pulled it out of the dumpster and once after she had passed. I looked up, metaphorically, and explained to her that yes I was right this lumber is not worth saving.

Now comes the harder stuff to purge. She kept a shoebox for every year of her life since middle school. Each one labeled and filled with memories, photos, menus, ticket stubs etc. All of it is priceless and valueless at the same time. The boxes take up a closet worth of space. And in them are memories of our times together and our sons lives. I am both looking forward to sorting through them and dreading it but someday it will need to be done. If only to set aside the things worth saving for the boys and the things that have no value to anyone but her. I have no desire to read the letters from her high school sweetheart and at the same time it feels wrong to just throw them in a dumpster. Wedding dress, pressed flowers, ticket stubs to our first concert. Sometime this summer I will invite her best friend, or my sister, or someone over just to sit with me as I start the process. But it is going to be a sunny day, with the window open and a breeze blowing in brining the smell of green leaves and flowers before I even think about going through all of that.

--- End quote ---
I have a hard time throwing away things like that, too.
I read an idea once to take photos of things you want to throw away because the photos take up less space. I do it sometimes.
I still have my stuffed animal collection from when I was a kid, but when I have to move, I will take photos first, then discard the toys.
I think it's a great idea to have her best friend or your sister sit with you. They might even be able to offer insight.
One 'rule' I used when I was discarding my late husband's things... if I had an emotional reaction to the item, I kept it, if I didn't, I let it go.
I haven't cleared out his sock drawer yet... it's almost been 9 years.

I have a house full of DH's stuff. I go on mini-purges from time to time. Sometimes I get frustrated with all his stuff that I don't know what to do with or is too heavy that I can't manage it. Fortunately I can just close the door to his basement office and ignore it for the most part.

But there is also a lot I will never discard. I like running into reminders of what a happy life we led and how much love we shared. When I find little treasures, I don't collect them or place them in a box, rather I leave them as they were so that I can happen upon them and feel that love again next time.


Great post and great thing to think about. It is so poignant reading everyone's answers, thoughts, etc.

I've moved and did the purge already, many years ago. I kept some of my LH's things but not much as much of what he had and cherished could be turned into cash I needed over time. After so much time, other than pictures, I've kept a hat, a pair of boxer shorts, a dolphin pendant that is now on my charm bracelet, his social security card and driver's licence and his college diploma and birth certificate. A book he contributed to.  (I do still have many items that were "ours" together and of course things he gave me as gifts)

It is my practice to keep financial records for ten years and now I'm past the time when boxes of paperwork have stuff that related to my life with LH. No more the once a year task to purge - to go through the boxes of cancelled checks and receipts to shred and see little windows into how our life used to be. The last of these was four years ago (at that point it had been 11 years) and what I found was mostly sad- the cancer year. Receipts for meds, medical stuff. Even a cancelled check for the barber shop where he got his head shaved after his first round of chemo.

I still have so many great memories but those memories are largely fixed (you remember what you remember until something or someone gives your brain a nudge) and those boxes of paperwork were rich with things that stirred my memories. So, even though it was often hard to open those boxes of paperwork, especially that last box from our last year, now I don't have anything like that anymore.]

It is as if my past with LH is truly just a reflection in a mirror. Frozen. Static. No longer with any semblance of the dynamics of a life that is being lived. It is a life that was LIVED. I think that is the hard part of letting go of those things that fit into boxes.

These are my thoughts about this.

3 years later and I'm still purging. It takes time and extreme emotional stamina to go through it all. These days I just part with things that make me too sad to look at, and others that never mattered when he was alive and I held onto it for my own sake. Just take your time, do what feels right.

There's no time limit or schedule for grief and processing it.


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