Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Picture Thing

Hey there-

I'm a bit on the sentimental side.

I like pictures and I save letters and ticket stubs from "important" concerts and shows and I collect little items from trips that I place around the house so they can collect dust.

When Bob first died my sentimentality increased exponentially and I became obsessed with keeping two of everything "for the boys".

Two bikes, two of his favorite recipes I framed, two quilts were made from his T-shirts......you get the idea.

As time has gone on some items that were deemed important have lost their importance, or I have completely forgotten what I thought was important about the item to begin with. I.e a certain canister of oatmeal, or a couch.

But the pictures remain around the house.

It's the pictures that can really trip people up when trying to understand our "situation" and how Mike "deals with the sainted dead spouse thing".

Now, I have been around many widow/ers and the picture thing is dealt with in as many different ways as there are for a person to die. Anywhere from total removal to continued prominent placing on a main wall seems to be the norm.

For Mike and I the picture issue came up rather quickly in our relationship. I know many of you know the story of Mike's struggle with the pictures and his wondering where he fit into my life. Then there was my "supportive" response that three months into our relationship was a little soon to be expecting lots of pictures around the house, ten years into it maybe, but not three months.

"You have to earn your spot on the wall buddy," I believe was my thoughtful response.

True to my word, now five years in, there are many more pictures of Mike and his children and us as a couple and family on various trips and doing various activities.

There are also many pictures of Bob, of Bob and I, and of Bob and the boys that remain hanging on the walls and tucked on shelves. (yes, we do have lots of pictures around the house. I said I liked pictures.)

And I have to say I don't get the problem people have with pictures of your dead spouse being around the house. I don't keep them above my bed, that might be a problem. No one seems to think it is weird that I have a picture of my dead grandmother displayed on the shelf, not a single person has ever commented on that fact being strange or wondered how Mike feels about that.

I guess it is the fact of the love relationship that confuses people. Mike certainly knows that I was married before, and that I loved Bob, it is no secret where the boys come from. Why should the past, their history, be hidden from them as if it were not valued?

I understand that one day the pictures of Mike will outnumber the pictures of Bob, if we are lucky enough that is. And if we aren't, and Mike were to exit before that happened, I would keep the pictures I do have of him up and expect that my next husband would understand just as Mike has.

Understand that I was loved, it's not a bad thing.

Thanks for checking in-



  1. I'm married to a widower and would like to share my thoughts. Hopefully I do not offend :)

    I think a lot of this stems from how our society views married relationships. Typically, the accepted norm is a monogamous man/woman form. If a man is married to a woman, and is also in love with another woman- that is typically an affair situation. But when the woman he is also in love with happens to be deceased (as is the case for me) it is pretty far outside of the accepted norm. There aren't many couples our age who have lost a spouse and remarried. So when my friends/family see photos of Sarah in our house or on Chris's facebook page, and ask me how I deal with it- I understand why they don't "get it". They are expecting the accepted norm.

    When I started dating Chris, I also expected the accepted norm, not knowing anything else. I understood he was loved, and didn't view that as a bad thing. But it was hard for me to visit his house where every single wall, shelf and counter held photos of Chris and Sarah. It wasn't that I wanted to remove the photos, or that I wanted him to place less value on them. I guess the best way I can try to convey the feeling wasn't one of jealousy, rather one of me not fitting in there. It's a tough feeling to explain.

    In the early days of your relationship with Bob, if you had visited his house and saw photos of him and his previous love adorning the walls-- what kind of impact would that have had on you? I know it's a tough question to ponder given that you didn't live that reality, but I'm just posing it to try to expose the other angle.

    Thank you for writing your blog. I really appreciate seeing your perception of these issues. It helps me tremendously, Irene.

  2. I lost my husband (Mike) a year and a half ago, I was 34 years old. We have a son who is now 9 years old. We had one granddaughter at the time of his death who was only 2 and still remembers her grandpa. I never had many pictures of him and I up. Lots of pictures of the kids but none of me and him. After he died I filled my walls and shelves with pictures of Mike. There are pictures in nearly every room in the house, because I think I wanted him EVERYWHERE. I began seeing a wonderful man also name Mike, (I know very strange at first) but anyway he is wonderful but his hang up is all the pictures. He has said that it makes him feel like he doesnt belong. I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life and starting a new life with Mike(the boyfriend) but I dont know how to make him understand that the pictures of my husband are not me holding on to the past but just trying to honor my husband. I also think its important for my son to see pictures of his dad, and to help my granddaughter hold on to her memories. Is there a right or wrong way to handle this? Am I going a little overboard with the pictures? I dont want to erase my husband from our lives as if he never lived but I want my boyfriend to feel welcome and wanted and not like he is competing.

  3. Catrina-

    I believe keeping pictures up is important, especially for children and grandchildren. I want them to know the relationship I had with their dad is still important, even though he is gone.

    Death ends a life, not a relationship.

    The pictures should be no threat to a new relationship, as long as the communication is open and honest and the new person is able to understand that they are not second choice in any way. Simply a different choice for a different time. Make sure they know where their place is, and that it is honored as well.

    I hope these opinions help.

    Paxton- no offense taken. I welcome the comments and insight.