Often when we get married, we have a photographer at the wedding to capture the moments. These pictures become treasures of the day we married, and we might even pick out one or two special ones to display in our homes. We may even envision having these portraits through a long and lengthy marriage, with pictures of our children and grandchildren surrounding the wedding portraits. So, what happens with these pictures when we lose our loved one? What do we do with them if we find another love? Do we continue to display them, or do we put them away? The wedding portrait can be another grief struggle.
The main answer to this question is that you should do whatever feels right for you in your journey. If you want to keep the pictures out, that is what you should do. If you want to put them away, that is ok as well. You can always bring them back out if you want to do so.
Jeni’s Portrait – When Bob and I married, we had a large portrait made to be hung in our living room. I thought it would hang in our house for fifty years or more. I had visions of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren looking at it while he and I told stories of our wedding day. Less than fourteen years later, I lost him, and yet, that picture still hung in our living room.
That portrait remained prominently displayed for many years after his death. After about ten years, I moved it to our downstairs living area, where it stayed for a few years. Then, I decided to take it down. The new gentleman in my life thought I had done it for him and put it back up. I took it down again. And, he put it back up. He wanted me to know that he was OK with the picture being up. I had to let him know that I was ready for it to be taken down. For me, it was time. I understand that others would never want to move the picture and would want it to always remain on their wall. For me, I needed to put it away for a bit.
Fast forward to today. The gentleman in my life is my second love. My grandchildren call him Papaw. However, they know about Grandpa Bob. They like to sleep in his double sleeping bag that we used to go camping with during the fall months. They ask to hear stories about him. They have become inquisitive about the fact that there was someone before Papaw.
So, now, I am considering bringing out the portrait again. This time, it is not for me. It is for them. It is so that they know his story and they know his part in their life. When he first died, I worked hard to keep him alive for our children, whom we had just adopted prior to his death. Now, I am faced with keeping him alive for our grandchildren. The picture albums have come out again from time to time as the stories are told. The big portrait may soon have to follow.
Teresa’s Portrait – When Kris and I married, we had a few portraits we placed into the fancy silver frames we were gifted for our wedding. They captured our young hopeful smiles and photos of family and friends. We also had a wedding photo book made, which lived in the bookcase to remember and share with the kids we had.
After Kris died, the portraits remained in the dining room, living room, and our bedroom. The one in our bedroom I placed face down at some point as it was too painful to look at every morning and night. When the boys and I had our memorial moments, we’d look at the photo albums and take a trip down memory lane.
It wasn’t until I was seriously dating Bill that I wondered about the others displayed in the house and what he might feel. I didn’t take them down since they were a fixture in the house, and the boys would wonder why Mom had moved them now. How serious was this relationship with Bill? Bill was perfectly OK with them and curious about Kris and my life before him.
Bill and I married, and we moved into a house together. The wedding portraits are in a box in storage. The wedding photo album is in the bookcase in our living room. As the boys grew and married, the photo albums became a way to know their father-in-law they never got to meet. Now that we have grandchildren, it’s also a way for them to get to know Grandpa Kris.
The portraits we took at our weddings are both important and special. They are a part of our story. They speak to the love we shared in our lives. They can also be a part of your future as you tell your story to others. They provide a way for loved ones, new family members, and friends to know the love you once shared. They provide a history of your journey and allow you to look back at the memories that you or others want to remember.
We do have one suggestion for you to consider in this area, whether you take them down or put them away, please keep them so that, when you do need them, they are there. We know of some widows/widowers who have gotten rid of these mementos and have regretted it later.
If you’re struggling with what to do, do what feels right for you. Keep them up, put them in storage, or take them out again. There’s no right or wrong answer.
In this series, we’re writing about the struggles grief brings us. We have some ideas and topics. We’d love to hear what YOU would like us to write about or discuss. Do you have a struggle story you’d like to share?
Please contact us and let us know of any particular grief struggles or topics you’d like us to explore. We appreciate your support and input.
Peace & blessings,
Teresa & Jeni
PS: For additional support, you can download our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss
Torn in Half: The First Days as a resource for the first days after a loss – available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.