As you organize your photo life, sorting through photos can be joyful and fun. But what about the photos that remind us of a bad relationship? Or a painful childhood? Or the loss of a child, a sibling, a parent….or a friend?
Photos are powerful reminders of the past, good or bad, and are part of our story. As I sorted my own photos these past few weeks, I found the emotion and grief somewhat overwhelming at times. After losing my brother this past year, photos of our childhood triggered a deep sadness that caught me off guard.
As you get your own photos in order, you will no doubt encounter photos that are harder to deal with.
Here are a few tips for managing the grief:
- Work for shorter periods of time: Your stamina for working in two or three-hour time blocks may be weakened by emotion. It’s okay to take a little more time when dealing with painful photos, by working in shorter intervals over a longer period of time.
- Schedule an uplifting activity: Read an uplifting book, visit with friends, enjoy an outing with family or anything that lifts your mood!
- Set the photos aside: Some photos may be too painful to deal with or your grief may be too fresh at this point in time. It’s okay to save this project for another time.
- Enlist help! Ask a friend or family member for help sorting these photos, or consider hiring a Photo Organizer. Photo Organizers can work quickly to get these photos organized, digitized and archived with or without your assistance.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to deal with painful photos. You will know the time is right, when looking back feels therapeutic or when painful sadness is replaced with nostalgia and longing.
We would love to hear your comments below. How have you dealt with painful photos from your past?
When Lisa Kurtz lost her mother, grandmother, aunt, and uncle in three years, she was left holding a box of unidentified photographs with nobody to ask about them. Lisa embarked on a lifelong quest to discover and preserve her mom’s story, for herself and her kids, which led her to a career in professional photo organizing. Today, Lisa is the Founder of Pix & TALES with her daughter and together they help busy moms manage their pictures and tell their family stories.
This is so spot on! Grief can be so sneaky and it’s tough to predict how we will deal with it from day to day. Having a trusted friend listen to us as we share the stories through our tears can be so cathartic! As photo organizers we are honored to take on that role for our clients.
I agree Julie. The tears, and a patient friend may be all that you need to move through the pain to get the job done.
Hopefully for you and others, the grief subsides and turns into a smile and treasured memories become part of your memorable family story. Thank You Lisa —
Thanks Sherry! It helps knowing the end goal is about preserving our loved ones stories for future generations. Sometimes the driving force that gets you through is about making sure they live on through their photos and stories.
I am in the process of going thru years of photo. Yes, grief can hit you in so many ways when you are least expecting it. Short periods of time is a good suggestion. Don’t do it when you are tired. Me issue is do I do the photos by theme, chronologically or both. Do I scrap book, cd, digital or just box them back?
It is surely a task orth the effort however.
Donna it really depends on what kind of structure you already have in place. For example, if you look back at this series and how I am tackling my heritage photos you will see that there was no structure to begin with. As I sort through them it’s easy to group them into decades. But as I continue on with my more current printed photos I’ll go into more depth about theme based sorting, and working with your current structure. (I already have mine sorted chronologically). As I work through my own photos during this 6 month series, I’ll be relying on expert advice from some of our most experienced photo organized for tips. Why don’t you follow along and we can do this together 🙂
Wow Lisa that was really well written. I even felt your pain in the writing of this post. Wonderful advice as I am working with others organizing their photos. Thanks!