Today, I ran into a bit of a problem with the whole de-cluttering thing.
We still have lots of boxes and bags lying around the house. I have been trying to tackle little pieces every day, but there is quite a bit more to do. So this morning, I tackled a tote bag of old photographs that I hadn’t sorted through in the Big Photo Purge. Just like in that big tub of photographs, this bag contained lots of duplicates, out of focus shots, and just plain old uninteresting photography, so I made pretty rapid work getting through stacks and stacks of photographs.
And then my wife came into the room.
She sat down next to me and started to pull out photograph after photograph out of the discard pile. And she was not happy.
So she got irritated. Then I got irritated. Then she got more irritated. And so on.
Once the emotions settled down though, it was pretty clear to both of us what was really going on here. I had saved some pictures, but I had also decided to throw away a lot. And some of those pictures were of my wife’s father.
Sure, I had saved some really good pictures of my father-in-law, but the fact that I was throwing away any picture of my wife’s father was just unbearable.
And I got it.
So at that point, I decided to walk away from the photographs. I encouraged my wife to keep as many as she liked, or just throw the whole lot into a bag and sort through them later.
There would be time enough to return to this little task. For now, though, the best thing to do is nothing at all.
A. and I saw a museum exhibit once about the “filled” use of “blank” space in Japanese painting. I think “doing nothing” in the company of the grieving is similarly full.
Thanks for this. It would be great to go straight to the “Ah… this is what I need to do to be supportive” and avoid getting caught up in the reactive emotions. Maybe in another five decades I’ll have it all worked out….
Smiling out loud … I knew a wise and vibrant 103-year-old woman for awhile. She regularly joked that her goal was to see if the second century was better than the first.
Too soon after his death for her to let go of his photos.
Also, maybe she would like to discuss the photos with you (or someone else) . . . a chance to reminisce about her dad’s life?
Yes, too soon indeed.