Photos of Deceased Loved Ones: The Great Debate

I’m not sure if it’s coincidence or trend that’s recently led me to several online articles and posts discussing whether to keep and/or display photos of deceased loved ones. When I originally started writing this post I began discussing those who I think are talking about this topic ‘well’ and those whose advice I find downright disturbing, but then I stopped myself because who cares? You’re here and hopefully you trust what we have to say so I’m just going to get right down our thoughts on the matter.

Whether or not to display photos of deceased loved ones, in my mind, ought to be a benign conversation. I know how I feel – photos are a beautiful and treasured reminder of loved ones who are gone. However, I also understand there are plenty of peoplephoto-67051_640 who prefer not to display photos for perfectly good reasons. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer.

I’m sure this has been a non-issue for many of you, but for others it’s not quite so straightforward. It just makes me immensely sad to think of some widow or widower stuffing photos into a box because someone made them feel that leaving photos up is wrong, abnormal, or an indication that they are stuck in their grief.

There are reasons why people hold on to photos and there are reasons why people don’t. Here are a few, but not all, of those reasons.

Why People Hold on to Photos:

For children and/or other family members…like brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters. When someone dies, his or her branch on the family tree doesn’t just fall off. That person is still a part of the family and hiding reminders of them, even if you would prefer to do so, can make other family members feel like their loved one’s memory is being erased.

Because you’re still a family: I have 5 brothers and sisters and, as I’ve said in past posts, we all still consider our mother to be a part of our family. She exists in memory and she continues to influence our family to this day. Whether her photo hangs on the wall has no bearing on her prominence in our family; but memories and moments involving her are an important part of our history. So why shouldn’t they exist in our homes?

Photos also give future generations a chance to connect with their deceased ancestors and family history. How else would you know you have your great grandmother’s nose or see aunt Carol smiling with her prized roses? Anyway, what was the point of taking photographs of these people if you didn’t plan on looking at them later on down the road?

Nostalgia and Memories: This is the most common-sense reason and why many people take pictures in the first place. Photos preserve memories like pre-school graduations, birthday parties, kids posing happily with artistic creations, weddings, etc. You know these moments are fleeting and in time our brain will no longer be able to remember them with the same vivid imagery, so you take photos.

Photos can make you smile, laugh, cry and remember. If you don’t believe me just ask Kodak, Canon, Shutterfly, Instagram, Facebook or Apple. Mankind’s penchant for taking and sharing images is stronger than ever.

Photos are tangible: One of the most difficult things about losing someone is the feeling that their memory is fading. Their smell, voice, and the feeling of their embrace – you wish for them to appear in a dream just so you can remember these things again. Photos are an accurate and literal reminder of your loved one.

They like photos: Dude, some people just really like photos. Put an avid camera clicker together with someone who really likes their family and what do you get? You get photo album after photo album of family members and friends. Accept it.

An appreciation for history: Some people just really care about history. My older brother, for example, is a history buff. He will leave no stone unturned in archiving our family history. It’s pretty cool and I’m certain our family’s next generation will appreciate his efforts; but seldom does a letter, film negative, or VHS recording that goes unturned in his pursuit.

In honor and remembrance: Many people prominently display photos of deceased individuals to honor them. I have wasted an irrational amount of time walking down the halls of Johns Hopkins Hospital looking at dead doctor after dead doctor. Why are they all hanging there? To honor and give them their place of prominence in an institution they helped to create and grow.

Portrait paintings of the rich, powerful, important and influential have been commissioned for countless microcosms throughout history. Walk the hall of any government building, club, or business and you will see this is true. In the same vein, it should come as no surprise that someone might see the family portrait as a way of honoring and paying tribute to individuals they love and adore.

Why People Don’t Have or Display Photos:

Photographs are a grief trigger or are too hard to look At: As we’ve established, many people find looking at photos of their deceased loved one to be very difficult. They may not choose to get rid of photos, but they might choose to put them away for a while. Sometimes people will continue to display photos even though it’s hard because they feel putting them away is disrespectful or means they are forgetting.

I think it’s probably incorrect to look at the act of putting photos away as a signal someone is ‘moving on’. Part of grieving well is learning to integrate the deceased loved one’s memory and being able to look at photos of deceased loved ones and feel happy or positive emotion is often a signal someone is doing better.

Grievers should feel okay about putting away photographs if they need to, this in no way means you are forgetting. Just because you put their photo away doesn’t mean the photos are gone forever. Though they may be too hard to look at right now, there will hopefully come a day when you can look at them and also remember fond memories.

Important Note: If you have children in the home, I would consider this more carefully. Consistency and connection are important for children and they may not understand the complicationed emotions and actions of adults. Please e-mail us if you want more clarification on this topic.

Photos are a grief trigger for others: Although you may be okay with photos, others in your house may not be. Together you may decide to put away photos away or you may arrive at some other compromise.

There aren’t any: Sadly some people don’t actually have any photos of their loved one. This is often the case with the death of a young child or baby, when someone has been distant or estranged, if the family photos were lost or destroyed, or if the person was just generally camera shy.

To avoid judgment or having to explain: Some may worry that others will judge their coping; some grievers may feel internal and/or external pressure to put the photos away, and some people may put photos away to avoid having to answer questions from visitors who didn’t know their loved one.

Bad memories: Not everyone has a past full of happy moments and fond memories. Old photos may be a reminder of a past they would just as soon forget.

Photos make them feel stuck: For some it may feel difficult to move forward when reminders of the past are everywhere. For this reason they may choose to put a few or all of the photos away.

Do you display photos of your deceased loved ones? Why or why not? Leave a comment and don’t forget to subscribe to receive posts straight to your eMail inbox.

March 28, 2017

86 responses on "Photos of Deceased Loved Ones: The Great Debate"

  1. My husband ans I have been married almost 6 years. My husband lost his deceased wife of a accident. My husband still has her picture( the big one you get from a funeral) on the wall. I didnt mind it at first but its starting to bother me now. It is on the wall where we sit all the time. He will get to hearing a song look at her picture and start crying. I feel he isnt over his deceased wife. Because our conversations has to have her in it.. After 6 years of marriage to my husband what do I do?

  2. im having a trouble deleting photographs of my mom who left us last year, she’s an effin selfish narcissist.
    I have lots of image with her and I don’t know what im gon do abt it. Some part of want to keep it, but.. I mean for what? most part of want to delete all of it that has her in it. But I still find myself crying, seeing these bunch of picture of us being so freaking happy. BUt i wish her death

  3. Both my adult sons, only children, died 7 years ago. My parents died before them and my brother died when I was a child. I have their photos, all of them, all over my house, in every room except the bathroom. I have a shelf in the living room, where there is a memorial which started as being primarily for my sons, but then has advanced to having pictures of my most beloved family members as well as my beloved pets who have died. I keep two laminated pictures of my sons in my pockets and hold their pictures all night. I talk to them frequently, light candles or have battery operated ones, every morning and turn off every night. I’m 69 years old and married, not to the father of my children. Those pictures mean everything to me. If I took them down, I know I would go crazy. From the moment my sons died, I had to see pictures of them. So, I guess, I’m thoroughly neurotic, but I don’t care. Luckily my husband of 30 years is ok with it. I haven’t specifically asked, but he hasn’t said anything.

  4. My mother died in Dec 2019. I hadn’t spoken to her for 20 years. She was a wicked, selfish child abuser and child batterer, who thought nothing of the emotional and psychological damage her actions brought upon her three sons and her three husbands.

    I have two sons of my own now (13 & 11 yrs). They never met my mother, but they know she was a horrible person.

    I have a small number of photographs of my mother from when I was a kid – early 70s. I want her death to be a clean break between my past and my present. I’m thinking of burning the photographs…almost ritualistically, almost like a catharsis, or an act of cleansing.

    Thing is, will I regret it in the years ahead? Would this act actually do me any good?

  5. What would you do if u lost one of twin your twin daughters at 4 months 2 days okd and you only had maybe 6 or 7 pictures off her and a few years later you find out your parents have taken 1 of your precious pictures off fb (I thought I had change my settings to private) had this picture printed off and is now on display for every Tom Dick and Harry that goes to their house to see???????

  6. Is there a person can come back as a head less body of my father

  7. Statue of our beloved one is more real then photo. We can feel that he or she is still present with us. I make human marble statue by the photo. If any want to make statue of your beloved , contect me at +918118820880

  8. I loved the comment that ‘he was not their soulmate’
    So true. No one else can or should tell you what to do.
    I talk to a photo of my husband…and sometimes shout at it when things are going wrong…but it helps me so much move along the agonising road of grief.
    Love to all other bereaved people out there
    Take care

  9. I lost my grandma 5 months ago. It was really hard in the beginning and I thought I was getting a little bit better and not as emotional. I thought I came to accept the fact that she is not with us anymore, but today I was going through photos of my grandma and grandpa and one look at it made me cry. How happy they looked… Now my whole family is a huge mess and the only thing that is connecting us is grief and sadness.

  10. I don’t display any photos of my mum who died on 1st December 2018 after fighting alzheimers 😤😤 for 5 years, I can’t look at photos and if I stumble across one on my phone it feels like a truck has hit me and I can’t breath. I’m not sure if I can’t see it, it isn’t real is my motif or whether they just make me sad… I do think that my body/brain has taken over and without me thinking about it my back thought is she is still alive so maybe denial.. grief is fucked up

  11. I found out a friend of mine passed away “unexpectedly” last year. I have great photos of him and I’m wondering if the parents would appreciate having them. Would it be appropriate to print them and send them in mail or would it be weird to receive this type of mail? I found out where his funeral was so I would have to send them there because I didn’t know him enough to know the home address of his parents.

    • As a mom who lost a daughter (age 17) – I treasure any connection to her. I love seeing pics of her that I’ve never seen before. That being said, all circumstances are different. I would pack the photos in a separate envelope and include a note explaining what they are and giving the parents an option of opening the envelope when/if they are ready to do so.

  12. My dearest Brother left South Africa and settled in Norway . Our visits were scarce as it’s so expensive to travel when you are self employed and the main bread winner .
    We were very close and every penny spare he put away to buy my visits .
    I lost him to Arithmic attack to the heart ❤️ .
    I miss him and I feel better seeing his face daily in my home . The distance we shared , makes it very unrealistic . So I prefer to think that he is in Norway .
    His photos will always be exposed in my home .🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  13. I have a question if a person has lost their husband and son for over ten years and this is having a party is it right for them to have pictures of the dead on a table with a lighted candel

  14. I lost my husband to cancer last year, for a while I couldn’t look at his pictures, it would make me cry. My heart would break. But I have a two year old son, who probably doesn’t even remember how his dad looked. Now I have posters, pics, videos of him playing all the time. I talk to my husbands pic all the time. My son wishes him good mornings and good nights. We are slowly moving on and taking his memories with us. It makes me stronger, 🙂

  15. I am writing to all of you because right now I need my friends and whom ever  more than I ever have. My youngest sister Jasity K Edwards  died, she was either  murder, killed herself or missing/kidnapped.!   on November  afternoon. She was only 23 years old. She and I were very close when we were growing up, and I feel like my heart has been ripped out and left to rot. Additionally, I got my heart broken the day before my sister's death by someone I was dating . Also I had a  very great job making $18 an hour being a caregiver , I lost that also the week my sister died. However, I am not in any emotional or mental state of mind. I don't know what to do. I don't even know if I want to do anything, and I don't really care. My faith in the Holy farther is still strong I believe I hope .  I just  don't know what to do. I have included my number 7205021899 Feel free to give me a call. I realize that there's nothing that you can really say, but I need my friends right now. My family is taking this very hard, and it is overwhelming for all of us. JonEric veales

  16. I have pictures displayed of my both parents that have passed, it can be hard to look at them when they first pass, but I have comfort seeing them everyday, I also have a small pic of each on my refrigerator that I kiss everyday and tell them how much I miss them.
    It’s a way to keep their memories alive, we often talk about them and for my youngest daughter who was born after my mom passed, and was only 2 when my dad passed, it’s a way for her to get to know her wonderful grandparents. She’s 6 now and has a good understanding of who her grandparents are through photos and talking about them.
    My photos of them are like gold to me and would never put them away.

  17. Keep the photos up, dont put them away.
    Endure the grief that way, see them every day.
    Cause it makes you stronger

  18. I have pictures on my phone of my deceased wife. She died suddenly in June of 2015 after a lifelong battle with type 1 diabetes. I met a lady about a month after her passing and we started dating soon thereafter. We got married two years later. I know I should delete these pics but feel horrible doing so. Please help me!!!

    • You should never delete your deceased wife’s picture. It is your past that makes you who you are. Any woman that fell in love with you should embrace the fact that you loved and cared for someone until death did you part. It is not a picture of a mistress or pinup girls. Don’t have her picture over your bed or on the nightstand but in an album or in a family collage is totally acceptable.

    • First of all did u 2 have children? I ask this because I do a thing where I take pics of loved ones thT are deceased and I add them with let’s say a grandma passed before she met her grandkids or got to have a generation photo. I will ask u to bring a few pics of the children or whatever the case and find a photo of the deceased a good photo where they r sming and I put all of them into one. Making a new memory a new place for the picture besides the bottom of the chest in the attic. Its amazing idid this with my mother she never met her grandkids and since they are older I put a pic of all her grandkids n added her in it

  19. I am a psychotherapist at a Doctorate Level, but someone would be lying to you if they say that we can get used to death of loosing our loved ones. I lost my fiance of 4 years after 6 days of our engagement and to tell you the truth I will never heal from this loss, trauma and pain. It’s a year now but it feels like yesterday, I still put on his ring and I can’t function without it, I use his perfume to keep his smell around me , my house is decorated with his portraits of both of us and I find him part of my daily life, he does things for me, advises me on different things when I am stuck and has already sent me and the children a x mass wish of a (RAINBOW) in a miraculous way which made us know he is still part of us everyday. We celebrate his birthday not anniversary when he passed, cause I believe in celebrating life not death. And its amazing to feel and know he is still part of our daily life and its very fulfilling. Nobody can get used to loosing their loved one and everybody deals with pain differently, it’s the scariest thing that ever happened to humanity. My Doctorate is dedicated to him, we started together, we will finish it together! He is and will ever be my soulmate!

  20. My oldest brother was murdered a few months ago. He was only 24. I have a photo of him om my mantle, and my partner doesnt like it there becuase it makes him sad. I dont know what to do this is a sensitive subject between us.

  21. I lost my husband 3 years ago due to a severe backpain that let him not being able to walk.tests showed that he had spine cancer.I am trying to forget him and move on but my children always bring him forth,I dont know what to do,they display his photos where I see then,putting him on whatsapp sending messages about him,this is killing me

  22. The father of my children passed away on July 1 of this year and we haven’t been together for 4 years. We had two children my son is 10 and my daughter 8 and my kids loved him so much. My kids haven’t seen their dad for 4 years because he was deported to mexico. During the years of separation with there dad I moved on in a new relationship for 3 years already and my boyfriend doesn’t want pictures of their dad in the living room. I only have one of their them 3 their dad and my kids and I’m not in the picture. He said if I put them up that he will leave me and the kids. All this makes me angry and sad I feel like I cant be with him nobody understands me. I still loved their dad very much what do I do

    • Hi Erika

      Any man who would behave in such a way is both manipulative and extremely insecure and although i dont know you and one shouldnt take advice from a stranger, i would however suggest this raises a huge red flag. It isnt the case that the father of your children is still around so your present boyfriend shouldnt feel threatened at all but he obviously does. His actions are not very respectful to your children. It isnt my place, but I am a man and i think his behaviour is way out of line. If he is like this over a photo what will he be like in the future? Not only that but as the mother to your children you have a moral duty to put their needs first and part of that is honouring the father they loved at least enough to allow a picture of him to be around.

    • Its a sad and pitiful person that is so insecure and selfish to be in anyway jelaous or resentful and disrespectful to not only the deceased father of your children, but also to the children who deserve to be able to honor and be able to have something to reflect and remember of thier dad. And to you as well this is selfish and unnecessary, because your past together, whether good or bad, created and brought into the world children … And you alone as the mother have to watch them grieve the loss of knowing their father and as a mother when your children hurt so do you.
      Maybe you could just frame some pix of the father and kids and have them displayed in the children’s rooms so that it doesn’t upset the ultra thin skinned boyfriend’s black and cold heart and thin skin.
      Sorry but it truly is riduculous to be jealous of a dead person!!
      Best of luck ❤

  23. My partner passed away 6 weeks ago and his face on a photocopy photo Has started to go Purple what does this mean ?.

  24. My husband died only 17 days ago after a long struggle with Lewy Bodies Dementia. I cared for him throughout his illness, we had been together for 40 years. I feel like my heart has been ripped out. We had only moved house just 3 weeks before he died and all our photos were packed away.
    I have now placed lots of pictures of him and the two of us around the apartment. it gives me great comfort to remember happier times we spent together before the monster of Lewy Bodies changed our life forever.

  25. I’m trying to find a photo of a great love one that is now gone. I can’t find one anywhere I’ll pay you money too expensive sites I’ve missed free sites and I can’t find a photo can you help

  26. I have just recently lost my 21 year old grandson whom lived in our house since he was a baby, I raised him and he turned out to be a truly wonderful and caring young man, well spoken and carried no addiction. We are not certain of the reasons he took his own life, we can only guess that the lack of a serious girl friend at the moment depressed him. My grief is immense, I lost a child, not a grandson. I have his pictures everywhere and more… No computer remained untrue, I have always been an avid photo buff and I am so glad. I still look at the pictures like he is home and give him a smile, I don’t believe that I am losing my mind but some of my friends probably think that I am.
    In my case pictures help and I don’t believe that I will ever put them away (drawers are full) I love him still as much as before and if his dad and grandfather feel uncomfortable, I feel so much better when I can say “Hi my Angel” to a picture .

    • I am so sorry for your loss, I lost my nephew last March and our family is going through great grief for the same reason you lost your grandson. I understand your pain. I also helped raise him. He was my best friend. I’ll miss him everyday. I pray god gives you peace and understanding.

  27. Since my father died last Nov of 2015, I always have his photo display under our altar. Last April 3 his birthday be brought the picture to cemetery and celebrate his birthday there. When we got home I forget the picture on my brother’s car. My brother keep the picture inside the box. Just today I dreamt of my father, and in my dream it was raining he stayed in my neighboor’s house. He said, he want to go home. I said yes dad you’ll coming home as soon as the rain stop…he stare at me and began to cry. That moment I woke up. Now I ask my brother to bring my father’s photo here.

  28. I also lost m y husband in Feb. 2010 to stage 4 lung cancer, at age 66 years old. The pain is unreal and I am still beside myself knowing he is not here. We were divorced for 26 years. All those years apart I still loved him, thoughts of him was always in my heart, something I could never explain. We rekindled our relationship, got married a second time and enjoyed life for 8 years until bad news struck. One day he had severe pain in his neck, the results of an x-ray struck us like a thunderbolt, the 3rd Vertebrae was totally broken up by cancer, well things went down hill from there. I wouldn’t believe it, I couldn’t accept it. Prior to that life was just wonderful, we were both retired and doing the things we loved and looking forward to getting old together. But God had other plans for us. Seven ( 7) months from that x-ray death visited my home. I comfort myself with having his photos everywhere, especially the ones with both of us, even those that goes back to our first marriage. In the yard I sit under trees and shrubs we planted together, I wear his shirts working around the house. We had done Community Service together so instead of flowers I asked for donations and gave the funds to a student in need, all of this helps the healing process. His birthday is August 31st, I will post a photo of us and a note of Remembrance. I know its not for him as the dead knows nothing. Its a way of keeping his memories alive for myself. Accepting death is not easy, but I am a faithful believer who prays everyday asking God for peace and internal strength to carry on.

  29. I learned during grief therapy groups just how sensitive this topic is. I was feeling so guilty about not having photos out – I just found it too hard – I still do (lost 32 year old brother in 2007 and 71 year old mother in 2010 – both suddenly). I found a beautiful little frame and put a tiny photo of my mother in it which I found in her apartment after she died. In it she was in her early 20’s and she loved how she looked in it. Towards the end of her life she was overweight, struggled with chronic pain and did everything she could to feel beautiful. She always struggled with self doubt. I always heard in church that in heaven we are our perfect selves so I imagine my mother to now look like that picture she loved in heaven. I bought a beautiful new frame for it & keep it next to the stove in the kitchen – sometimes I tuck it in my work bag when I travel. It’s not too big to be obtrusive and not too small to not be meaningful. Now when a friend of mine loses someone very close to them, I gift them one of these frames. It’s a small company in NY that puts so much care into their products. They are always appreciated and I feel like it’s something I can do to help in my own way…so hard to know what to say or do in a time so painful. <3 You can find them if you look up "Elias Art Metal" – they are stunning.

  30. For my child’s memorial service, I created a collage of photos on poster board. I plan on putting it on the living room wall once I buy a house. My daughter, who will visit frequently and maybe move in depending on her school plans, hates the idea because it would just make her sad. But I feel like I want their memory to live on, you know? I decided to compromise by putting the poster board and framed college degree and other mementos all on the same wall and then install a curtain that can be open and closed as needed.

  31. Ì totally agree with Tina. I want to remember my partner, nor forget him. I have several photos displayed with a beautiful candle that has heartfelt words written on it. I have a cabinet displaying all his personal items such as wallet, watches, cigarettes ….and anything else that had meaning to my partner. I also have created a memory book of all the speeches from the funeral, numerous photos, my personal memories , condolences messages recieved via Facebook etc etc. I cry everyday like so many here but the last thing I want is for him to be forgotten. I love all the memories I’ve collated and this will ensure future generations know him as well.

  32. I lost my husband of 45 years in January 2018. He died from complications of Lewy Body Dementia. He was the love of my life and I have grieved long and hard and continue to do so. After his passing, I added even more pictures to our home of him and the two of us. I’ve had magnets made that I have placed all over our door. These pictures remind me of our wonderful times together, and, yes, sometimes they make me cry. But these are sweet tears as I remember him and all the things we did. I am in the process of making a photo book of our 45 years together. Any photo that has the two of us together is being included. I have found so much comfort in making this book. I also have a pillow with his photo on it. If people think I am crazy, well perhaps I am; it really doesn’t matter. It’s difficult learning to live with a broken heart, and these photos are helping me.

  33. I lost my mother suddenly at age 53 in June 2015, ten years after losing my father. I cannot display photos, as it just hurts too much. There is the single photo I have of my folks that is placed on her bed in her room, where I rarely ‘intrude’. I also have that photo and others as a thumbnail on my computer desktop. So fortunately, I do have some photos and notebooks that are all in a bundle so they are there if I need them or need to force a cry – I hope to have them in my coffin when it’s my time. I did try to display them early on, but it was just too devastating for me.

    The main bulk of the grief process for me is done with, but the emotional scars of the loss will last for the rest of my life. As I learned after my Dad’s death, it does get better over time. You don’t get over it, you just get used to it. Now and again, it hits me, what I have lost and how lonely the rest of my life will be. It’s so unfair. I had expected another 20 years with my mother at least. I find the best way for me is to stay busy. Her death changed me, pretty much ‘destroyed’ me, but time does heal.

    Conversely, my quasi-grandpa who is almost 83 still keeps photos of my mother on display at his home. He still cries for her and I have pointed out that for me keeping them on display would hinder my dealing with the grief, so perhaps it may be the same for him. He doesn’t want to make it ‘easy’ on himself though. I respect his choice, despite it being a little painful to see my mother’s photos when I visit him. He and I have supported each other through the past three years and I am thankful I still have him, however little time left he may have.

  34. I lost my 2 sisters and their 5 children during the typhoon that hit Philippines of November 2013. We were just there in January that year visiting with my parents. I haven’t been back to visit my other relatives who survived. I wanted to go back and pay my respect and to say goodbye to my loved ones who passed but it’s scares me because I don’t know if I’ll make it. I also wanted to hang their pictures in the house but I’m still not ready. I think of them and pray for them and their souls to Rest In Peace .

  35. It’s been 12 years since my brother passed away. My sister and I can only put up one picture in our homes and it’s his graduation picture. Any other photos are still to this day too painful to look at. And my mom cannot look at any pictures either. Hopefully one day, we can display them without the feeling of our hearts being punched.

  36. hi i coukd relate in this situation….
    my bf for seven months now lose his ex gf a year ago….but until now the picture of that girl is still on display in his abr table…which sometimes i get jelaous because im thinking that he is still cant move on on the past or i cant give him contentement…..thats tje reason of our fights most of the pictjre of the ex girl who is dead….

  37. I think the decision to display or not to display photos or other momentos of our gone loved ones is as personal a decision as is the grief that accompanies each loss. I lost my mother 4 years ago, and recently re-discovered the photos I had printed for her memorial service. They were of her as a younger woman, full of health and vitality and a little bit of glamor. Most people didn’t know her as who she had been in her younger years, and they enjoyed those photos at the service. I’ve been looking for some wall art to put at the end of a hallway, and finding these two pictures feels like an aha moment! I’m ready to see them displayed there in the hall. They’ll be near a cluster of bedrooms, so only accessible to friends who find their way to the guest bathroom or bedrooms. I think seeing these fresh pictures of Mom in her younger years will be a nice way to think of her. If I find that it’s too painful, or that they don’t ‘work out’ there, I can always put them in an album. Much love to all who know the loss of a dear one!

  38. Hello,

    My wife’s mother passed 2 years ago. She was a wonderful woman and a big loss for my wife, my 4 year old daughter and myself.
    Recently, my wife unpacked some of the pictures of her mother and she has decided to display one of those framed photos on the console table in the hallway, just next to our daughter’s photo. I feel this is making me particularly uncomfortable as the photo is now the first thing I notice when I get into our house… I have not discussed the issue with my wife as I believe having that photo prominently displayed on that particular place is important for her. I also do not want to look insensitive to her grievance. Any thoughts on this?

  39. This is very helpful. It is hard for me to look at photos right now, but I know a time will coem that I can.

  40. I lost my mother 08/28/2015 she was so young only 51 i can not look at her pictures i have them put away and not because i dont love her i miss her so much i can not seem to get over her not being here and never coming back each picture of her is so meaning full. I guess with time i will be able too but for now i keep her in my heart and miss her everyday of my life😭—- i dont think its wrong i think time will heal my pain and that day will come that i will forgive and be strong

  41. I started to cry just reading this post…I lost my son a little over a year ago..A photo right now is just too painful…I even have to restrict my thoughts…It is too hard and a cause of such sadness for me..I miss my son terribly. Maybe one day, I can look at his picture and not feel like I want to die..But, that day has not come yet.

  42. I relate with the people who posted about feeling physical pain when looking at pictures of loved ones who have died. My dad and boyfriend both died and that has been the case for me for both of them. I display pictures of both of them but only a few and it only look at them at certain times when I am up to it. My dad died more recently so I’ve noticed the “pain” is more acute when I look at his pictures than with my boyfriend who died 10 years ago. My sisters both really like looking at pictures of my dad and have them out including on Facebook. So it is hard to look at his pictures that they display, especially when I am caught off guard and not expecting it. After my boyfriend died unexpectedly I actually moved away, partly to have a break from his family and friends who were like a living photograph and causing me more pain. But I would never ask anyone to change how they do things – because grief is the hardest thing I believe we can go through, everyone just does their best. And everyone has different reasons for why they make the choices they do when grieving. So I appreciate your article giving both sides of this. One of my biggest pet peeves is when other people try to tell you what to do or what not to do when you lose someone. Grief is personal.

  43. I am sad because my son-in-law put all the pictures of my precious daughter away because it is unbearable for him to look at. I understand that but my Grandsons are 3 & 5 years old. My daughter loved being a Mom and it breaks my heart that she has just vanished. It has been a year and everyone has encouraged him to seek counseling. I want the boys to have some memories. I don’t know if they would even recognize her in a picture if they saw it.

    • Nancy, I am so sorry for your loss. I too lost my daughter in a car accident in Feb 2017 leaving behind a husband , a 3 yr old daughter, and 4 month old son. I am very blessed in that my son in law has an area in his house where he has my daughter’s ashes in an urn and pictures displayed. He also talks about her with great ease and with fond memories. At the same time he does see a counseler and attends a support group. He’s doing quite well in going on with his life and with raising the kids while preserving her memory. I would highly suggest your son in law seek counseling. Your daughter’s children should know who their mommy was. She didn’t go thru 9 months of pregnancy and hours of labor only to be forgotten in death. She should be very much alive in memory. I miss my daughter every second of every minute of every hour or every day and I shed lots of tears at the loss, but I smile many smiles at her memory. Speak to your son in law and encourage counseling. In the meantime, you keep her memory alive by showing photos to your grandkids and sharing special memories.

  44. i feel that if its a direct relative to the person that knew that person they can do as they please, in my case i dont think its fair that i should keep things around that didnt even happen in my time for while i sord just regarded it as non of my business,and for respect towards my late relatives,to keep certain things that belonged to them such as photos, i have some around not on display but put away,but their deaths were of natural causes and stuff an d of course i knew them directly so those i ve kept some, but i no diserire to keep photos of poeple that i didnt know,that i had no connection with simlply because of guilt of disrespect,specially when u learn that one of those people committed suicide i feel like its not up lifting nor positive,and a bad omen,not because i judge them,but becuse it could be bad energy,since i had no significant connectionto them. sorry…

  45. Hi I lost my brother and my nephew on July 29, 2017. My mom has been so devastated she actually has had severe depression. So I’m just looking for a little advice she has a picture of my brother at her bedside I personally don’t see why she shouldn’t have it but others seem to think she should move it cause it’s causing her more pain. She don’t want to put it away and I feel it’s her right to choose what she wants. I’m just wondering what others think

  46. Hi. I lost my boyfriend to cancer. I have his picture in a frame. A few people told me to put the picture away because having it will nit ket me move on and that im not letting him rest in peace. I put the picture in a box wth other pictures. These past few days the thought of having his picture in the box has been on my mind. I feel guilty, also knowing he has a 5 year anniversary of his passing coning. I got scared with peoole telling me its nit good to keep a picture of one that has passed becuse they wont let me be at peace. Please help.

    • Pinky,

      There is nothing wrong with keeping photographs of deceased loved ones sitting out. If you are having trouble finding peace and coping with his death, it is not because of his photograph. It sounds like putting his picture away has not given you any peace – so if you want to take it out of the box, then you should. My heart goes out to you on the 5-year mark of his passing.

    • Pinky I lost my wife to leukemia last year. I have her pictures out so I can see them. It is difficult to look at them sometime but they are out anyway because I do not want her memory to fade into the distant past. I am not ready to forget her and put her in a box. If you are not ready, please get his picture out of the box and on some future day you may decide to put the picture away, or not. I guess everyone is different but I just want to see my late wife’s pictures a little while longer.

  47. My 5 year old daughters father has passed away by suicide and I don’t know if I should put pictures of her father anywhere in my home ? Her and her father were very close she loved him so much and him and I haven’t been together since I was pregnant with her. So he had a girlfriend that he was with since as long as I remember she never wanted me and her father together I’d asked her how she felt about it when she was about to turn 5 and she told me no she didn’t want us together she liked having her father living in another home hour away and only staying with him on weekends. She lived with me (her mother) . Well I couldn’t tell her about her father passing away so I let her go to Texas with his family that’s where he was from she has met them at of times within 5 years and she had so much fun every time she has spent with them. Well I didn’t know what to do about his death or how to deal with everything that has happened so I did research on it and decided to go with what other ppl have found works best. I want the best for my child and I don’t want her to act out and I want to protect her as much as possible. So she’s in Texas right now but I don’t want her to go to the funeral his family has shipped him from West Virginia to Texas to have the funeral there in his home town . His family a great strong church family great people that would do anything for anyone. They said they wanted her at the funeral but would not let her see his body in the casket . So should I let her go to the funeral as long as they don’t let her see his body since all the other children in the family are going but are not going to see his body either.?? And I let them tell my child about him passing away going to heaven because I have been to emotional and a wreck and don’t want my child to see me this way so I decided to let my daughter choose weather or not she wanted to go to Texas ( she had no clue at this point about her father passing untill she arrived from Ohio to Texas via drive with parents of her father). She now knows since they have arrived in Texas today they have told her that he passed away and she doesn’t believe them she has said to them “your nonsence people” and asked her little cousin that’s a few years older than her “is that really true about my daddy” she told her yes. So the family are all going to talk to their pastor of their Church tomorrow and see what he says about everything. I’m in Ohio still and haven’t talked to my daughter since she found out about her father it’s 3am in Ohio and it’s a few hours behind in Texas but my daughter is asleep now and I would like to know what should I say to her if she asks me about her father tomorrow when I talk to her? And should I put pictures of them two up in her bedroom for her to see when she returns home from Texas?? And how do I deal with everything from this point forward.?? Please help me with my questions thank you..

    • First, I am so sorry for your loss and for the difficult situation this has been for you. I think that letting your daughter go to her dad’s funeral is very important, as is having a conversation with her about it. Let her know you’re there for her. Let her be able to miss her dad with you. If you can go to the funeral with her, that could mean the world to her. I don’t know what your relationship with him was like, so I understand it may be incredibly painful. You have to make the best decision for you and your daughter, of course. But your daughter is not going to know or understand any problems you may have with him. She’s looking up to you to know how to respond. Are you going to show her how to grieve or are you going to teach her to run away from her emotions.
      I will be praying for you and that you are able to make helpful decisions. Don’t take my word as law or anything, I of course am just a distant stranger.

  48. I lost my 8 months old nephew about a month , we were so close and everyone said he looked like me,we where like playmates even though am 23years old, it’s been so hard getting over it, my mum says I should put away his pictures but it makes me feel like am forgetting about him already, i have dem on as my phone wallpaper, I wanted to know if dat would let me heal, sometimes looking at them makes me smile, other times it makes me weep! Am trying to block the thoughts of him on the sick bed as it brings so much pain to my heart!

  49. My dad passed Dec 9 2016. Hardest day of my life. I’m baby of family at 47 years old, but I was the oops as siblings are much older. I grew up with horrible seperation anxiety from my dad that I even turned down a four year fully paid collage scholarship because he couldn’t move (My mom & dad). My husband has been very understanding the last 25years of our marriage and we’ve lived with my folks most of that 25years, along with our 2 kids. Now that my dad’s gone I want to hold on to everything and put up all photos of him in our new home but I’m confused as the month before his passing him and my mom celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. His body wasn’t gone 5 minutes and she was cleaning up throwing his stuff away. She’s been having garage sales selling his stuff and got mad at me for sharing photos on my private group page that I had to delete her and sister from. It’s like 57years and she just getting rid of him and I’m having hard time understanding why? He was great hard working man. She says she cries everyday but when I try to hug or ask her to go to hospice classes she tells me no. We’ve been in our new home a month now and she has not been over but I have photos of my dad all over, actually photos of my whole family. Her and dad, them and my granddaughter but afraid she will say something negative as that’s her MO. I have not been back upstairs where my dad took his last breaths but have things I need to get and I’m scared. I had a major breakdown day he passed and not sure how to go back up without having another breakdown. I’ve seen her one but text her often. My older sister lives with her now and sometimes I feel like they gang up on me. I have 1 photo my daughter took as I was holding my dad after he passed I was in middle of breakdown and everyone else was able to get photos of the hand in dads hand. My dad had huge hands as he was a timber taller. But she took it in case I wanted a pic of my very last photo with my dad. You can’t tell he has past and it’s the back of my head hugging him and slight profile of dad do you thing this would be wrong to display in my home? Or should I keep it private like on my nightstand or dresser? Thank you

  50. I lost my dad while my mom was pregnant with me. And she doesn’t display pictures of him or talk about him, unless I bring it up, which is to painful so I rarely do! He committed suicide, so I understand. Except it makes me feel like I’m a bad memory for her & a constant reminder, just by my presence. I’m 36 years old & have had a great deal of pain in my life because of it. Pictures & conversations is all I’ve ever wanted since I can’t have him. It may be painful for her, but it destroyed my life by choosing to not deal with the situation & pretend as if nothing ever happened. Pictures are a wonderful thing!

  51. I lost my beautiful son 2 1/2 years ago. My husband, my other child and I, don’t talk him. It’s just way too painful. We were always a very close family and it’s just so hard talking about him. Has anyone else experienced this is their grief process?

    • I’m very sorry for your loss. I lost my son in February of this year. We do talk about him at times yet whenever we do, or whenever I pass by a picture of him, I am struck with pain, actual physical pain in my heart and stomache. Grief is overwhelming!

  52. I am concerned about the many photos my son has of his wife who committed suicide. My concern is for his 5 year old son who was basically neglected by his mom. I feel the child may be getting confused. He acts out very badly but only at home. He starts therapy next week.

    • Susan, I am glad to hear that he is starting therapy. We can’t speak to any specific situation, but generally speaking it is healthy and important for children to keep a connection with their deceased parent. Photographs can be an important part of that with the appropriate support, communication and explanations from their caregiver. That said, there can always be unique circumstances and situations so it is important when there are behavioral issues or other concerns to seek support from a professional. Wishing all the best . . .

  53. I have a question. I have heard from two persons that its a bad thing to have a picture of a loved one that has passed away in your bedroom, now is this true. I lost one of my older sisters almost two months ago.
    This lady said its bad for my mother in law, she had breast cancer last year, and has recovered, so I dont see what the big deal is. Is it a catholic thing or a mexican myth. Please help.

    • Maria, there is absolutely no reason to think it is bad to have a photo of your loved one in your room or anywhere else that is meaningful to you! Photos can be a great comfort and you should absolutely feel comfortable and confident keeping your photos in your home. I am not familiar with a myth or superstition about this particularly, but from a grief and mental health perspective there is no reason to think this is a problem in any way!

  54. My husband and I always displayed photos of us everywhere throughout the house. I haven’t taken any of them down. I’ve had several people tell me that I’m “living in the past”, or as your 64 Grief Myths said, “you’re stuck”. I’ve chosen to ignore their comments, and some I don’t hear from any more. Thank you for all of your articles.

    • Bea, I’m so glad that you have kept your photos. Everybody has their own way of making a way after losing someone very close. I have tons of photos of my husband and my parents. The photos give me comfort and create a sense of ongoing relationship. My dear ones may be physically gone, but the relationships are not. Displaying photos is how it can look to have a continuing relationship with those we have lost and to honor their memory by keeping them in the present if we choose to. Other people might choose to do something else, but no one should second guess what you should or shouldn’t do or to analyze your choices in a negative way. Just wanted you to know that there is someone else who keeps the photos and who has even added more than there used to be. 🙂

  55. I have pictures of my daughter all over my house, in my car and at work. I won’t ever forget her beautiful smile and soft curly long hair…. I have had some of her dearest friends give me pictures of her they had taken, had painted of her and most recent one made a colleague and gave it to me for Christmas.

  56. This is so helpful.I thought I was the only one going through this but I’m glad there are many.It does feel like you are stuck in grief when you don’t want to remove the picture,but then again when you remove it you just miss that person and you want to look at the picture again and it reminds you of them and brings back memories.I think it depends on an individual and healing stage he or she is in

  57. Thank you for your insight. I find that looking at a photo of a loved one makes me remember the time I took the photo. It makes me smile back and helps me to remember him because I he has made a big impact on my life and plus, although he is gone physically, it is important to me not to forget him even though I have to get on with my life.

  58. My husband passed away almost 8 years ago & I do have pictures of him out. He was 47 when he passed & our kids were 16 & 10. The kids have wanted them out & think it keeps him present. They worried, would feel guilty that they would forget him.

  59. I am widow of 20 months. Actually put up photos of husband everywhere after his sudden death. That helped for a long time. Just a couple of weeks ago, I put them close but out of sight just for awhile. I am at a time when I want to expand the emotional and mental memories and story to include the other 99.9%. Walking past the photos that had been comforting and supportive, became distracting….and limiting. There was/is no pressure fromvanyone. But it has broadened the path of this part of this healing journey. I did not choose it or much of what it included. Choices have been hard earned and not always right. AND this wold not hAve even ocured to me even a few mon the ago. . I will put them up again…likely different ones in different arrangements and spaces. This is just a part of the larger rebuilding. P.s. for the first 18 months they kept me sane. We really did exist…our story was real.. he was real…I needed to be able keep real about what and who I was grieving. It helped to have his image…that twinkle, grin, but also later reality check on his health aging lI’m it’s …and strengths ….at the point of death. It helped make sense if it all.

  60. It drives me crazy that I only have one picture of the two of us together, and it’s taken from far away. The worst thing is that this is reflective of our relationship: we were good friends and had known each other for a long time, but while he was alive I was really shy and struggled socially, and thus there are only a few serious conversations I can remember ever having with him. I wish I had something tangible with which to remember. I wish I had something tangible to remember.

  61. good day, I lost my boyfriend of 3 years to cancer April 2014. I have had mixed feelings over the last year about photos. sometimes I want to look at them like crazy and other times I get overwhelmed and I put them away. Its definately individual choice . My though if someone is pressuring someone either way thats a problem! We are not alone because people go through grief all the time however it IS our individual journey and we have to make the best choices for ourselves. take care and I hope we all find peace when we need it 🙂

  62. I’m one of those who has pictures everywhere. First, it was pictures of my husband. Now, it pictures of my mom too. I’ve made collages as well that I have around the house that are not only decorative, but were really therapeutic to make. On special days, I get all the memory boards out from the memorials and put them all out for a couple of days. For me, it just seems sad to have made all of those nice displays and to just keep them in the attic forever. I try to get through those hard days, birthdays and the anniversary of my loved one’s deaths by having a plan to celebrate and part of the celebration is to bring them into the room. I think I did more for my mom’s first birthday after her passing than I ever did when she was alive. I bought a wooden “J,” her initial, from a craft store and collaged photos all over it and then glued little embellishments to it like small lockets, buttons and heart shaped pendants. Creating art with photographs for me has been a labor of love and makes me feel like I am spending time with those I loved. Not everyone is the same when it comes to having the constant reminders, but for me my husband died; my mother died, but the relationships with each did not and I choose to look at them everyday and have them in my life still.

  63. I have pictures of my son all over the house and big frames I love looking at them I wish I had more space on my house walls I love when people look at them and I could never take them down I even have an alter for him a big one and it even lights up at night its beautiful im sure my son loves it 🙂

  64. My son died just a little over three years ago. I have kept his photos up, *but* it is difficult sometimes to look through photo albums with his pictures. I think healing means accepting our lost loved one’s place in our past. And sometimes I think I am getting there. But there are many days, still, when the enormity of my loss smacks me in my gut. And so, perhaps, it will always be. Losing a child is earth-shattering.

  65. My sister displays photos of EVERYONE except our mom. I have several scattered throughout my house…. once I asked her about it and she said it hurt too much to look photos (this is 30 years later). Interestingly she always wants to look at them at my house, and often comments that she wants copies (which I continue to send her, and she continues to lose). I agree, though, to each his/her own. But I think sometimes NOT displaying a photo (especially if you are a person who displays photos) is a symptom (manifestation) of something not being dealt with. IN my family in general we never talked about my mom after she died… and I think it was detrimental in many many ways that I am still working through.

  66. I still have a “shrine” with my favorite photos of my husband going on five years now since he died. I have changed them a bit but still have the main ones up.
    I carry his memorial card with his picture with me wherever I go, it gives me comfort. I do not listen to other’s judgements, he was not their soulmate. Each person must decide for themselves but for me, I love looking at his handsome face and smiling right back at him.

  67. Your site is so great! I had forgotten all about “pressure by others” as a reason. I put things away for a while, but just decided to break them out again last night. I LOVE how feelings have changed and I feel healed, not too intimidated by the past.

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