Clearing the family home. Photos?

(22 Posts)
Greenteandchives Thu 25-Aug-16 10:42:23

My dad died last month and we have to clear his home, which has been in the family since it was built. Mum died a while ago. So sad, sorting through all his things and realising what a simple soul he was. Anyway, there are loads of photos of him and my mum from holidays they took together, events they went to, pets, garden etc. These are not my memories, but it somehow doesn't feel right to just bin them. What have other people done? I think even if we scan them wouldn't really hold any interest for anyone else.

toucantoucan Thu 25-Aug-16 10:50:49

I am sorry to hear about your recent loss - it's very hard to clear a family home when you are still grieving. Having been through this myself, my suggestion is to try to do it in stages, so you are not going from a full house to absolutely nothing in the space of a few weeks, it's just too much to cope with when everything else is so raw. As far as the photographs are concerned, unless there are literally thousands of them, they shouldn't take up too much room and I would therefore suggest buying a lidded box, either plastic or card, you can find a space for at your place (bottom of a wardrobe, loft, even garage shed as long as they are in a plastic box) and putting them away for a time. Once the rest of the house has been cleared and the house sold or the tenancy passed on, you can start to sort through them at leisure. At that stage, just throw away any that are blurry or of places or people you don't know , and sort the rest into groups that make sense to you. Put them back in the box and then revisit at a later stage when you may find that there are more you feel it is right to throw away but don't put pressure on yourself to do this any more or any faster than you feel comfortable with. Hope that helps - PM me if you need any more advice.

Greenteandchives Thu 25-Aug-16 11:44:26

Thank you toucan. That makes a lot of sense. Very helpful.

Crispbutty Thu 25-Aug-16 11:50:12

I second what toucan said. I had to clear my parents house after my mum died. This was eight years ago today as it happens too that she died.

There were dozens of bags of photos, plenty of old relatives that died long before I was born. But I have kept everything in one box. My cousins and their children are both interested in looking at the family photos too, spotting resemblances etc.

It's a really hard thing to do. I'm still sorting out boxes now as I just put a lot into storage at the time as I really couldn't deal with it.

I'm doing this at the moment. Sorry for your loss, it's a horrible experience.
We are buying really useful storage boxes which have clips on the lid. Mum kept every birthday card ever and there's all the photos from her mum (my grandmother) as well. We don't have time or emotional energy to sort and make decisions just now so they are going into boxes. We are taping a sheet of paper to each box (there's loads) with a list of what's inside, eg 'bundle baby photos' or 'unknown black and white pics' to help us collate stuff. We vaguely plan to schedule occasional Sunday afternoon to sorting them out. But at the moment the priority has to be emptying the house for sale, sadly.

PurpleWithRed Thu 25-Aug-16 11:55:38

If you are going to keep photos do write on them who is in the photo and when/where it was taken if you know.

In a recent move Mum found a box of very old photos - she is 96 and still has a full set of marbles, but was so upset when she couldn't remember the names of all the servicemen she'd served with in the war. "We said we will remember, but I haven't".

PurpleWithRed Thu 25-Aug-16 11:55:41

If you are going to keep photos do write on them who is in the photo and when/where it was taken if you know.

In a recent move Mum found a box of very old photos - she is 96 and still has a full set of marbles, but was so upset when she couldn't remember the names of all the servicemen she'd served with in the war. "We said we will remember, but I haven't".

magimedi Thu 25-Aug-16 12:16:26

I would also suggest keeping them for the time being.

When my DM died (some 20 years ago) I found all the small diaries she used in her handbag, dating back for years. There was little in them beyond appointments & birthdays etc but I found it very hard to throw them away. I boxed them up & about 5 years later I got rid of them.

It's just too hard to try to do everything at once.

flowers for your loss.

mangocoveredlamb Thu 25-Aug-16 12:19:20

It's expensive, but you can send them off in a big bundle to have the scanned and then put on a memory stick or two. My in laws have decided to do this with all their pics, for which I'm very grateful. Maybe something to consider for the future.

Bastardshittits Thu 25-Aug-16 12:25:05

I had to clear my grandads house when he passed away. I did keep all his albums, my Dad wasn't interested which I thought was sad at the time.
I've had a rummage through and binned all the holiday scenery ones but I've kept the ones with people in them. I've been doing the family tree on ancestry and it's really brought home how a seemingly unimportant snapshot can bring somebody else's tree to life. I have them in albums in a plastic lidded box in the loft.

Greenteandchives Thu 25-Aug-16 12:55:19

Thank you everyone for the helpful suggestions and kindness. You are all right, I need to look through them properly when I am less teary. The whole business has been so sad. The thought of someone else living in 'our' house just finishes me off. It is local, and I know I will never drive down that road again once the house has been sold. His garden was his pride and joy.

Crispbutty Thu 25-Aug-16 13:06:12

One thing I wish I had done was to take cuttings from the plants and rose bushes in the garden of my mums. The new owners just cut the lot down and I was gutted.

Peregrina Thu 25-Aug-16 13:29:54

It's taken me 7 years to do this. I have binned all the ones of nameless people in nameless places at unknown times, and blurry out of focus ones. Ones of me and my brother as children, I split into two piles and we have had one pile each. I have let my own children pick through the box to see if they wanted anything. I still have some of my grandparents marching down promenades sometime before the war, which I don't quite know what to do with, and some jumbled albums from my parents, which I haven't had time to sort out.

My own photos have now all been labelled with dates, place and people. Most won't mean much to my children, and I have told them to feel free to bin them after I am gone.

I dug up a fern from my parent's garden, which in turn had been dug up from my grandparent's garden. This has now propagated into three more. They are still "grandpa's ferns" even though they have never been near his garden.

Greenteandchives Thu 25-Aug-16 17:07:44

YY to photos of 'grandparents marching down promenades' peregrina. There are a fair few of those among the collection. And sitting on the beach in suits and ties.
Thanks again. The suggestions have been great.

SickInBedOnTwoChairs Thu 25-Aug-16 17:12:48

Oh very familiar with photos of family members sitting on the beach in suits and ties. A different world back then and the passage of time is a sad thing. It shouldn't be, but it is. I agree with PPs. Keep them at least for now.

MoonlightMedicine Thu 25-Aug-16 17:15:39

I am going through this right now with my FIL. We have taken all the photos and are going to go through them all once it's all a bit less raw.

I'm sorry for your loss OP.

Bloodybridget Wed 14-Sep-16 19:57:27

I just did a search to see if anyone was talking about this. When my DM died in 2009 (DF had died long before) I brought home a huge quantity of photos and family papers, planning, of course, to sort them all out. I am now making a second attempt at this - the first time, I covered the dining table in piles of stuff for several weeks, did throw away quite a few pics, but gave up, defeated, and shoved everything back in a cupboard.

It's just very hard to do it, even now when I'm really OK with DM having gone! Some albums that she made need doing again because the pages don't stick properly and everything's falling out . . . and then I'd like to work out some sensible way of keeping BMD certificates etc, some of which are quite fragile now.

Anyway - sympathy to all of you who have lost parents and are grieving. And good luck to all of us for our family history preservation projects!

lotusbiscuit Wed 14-Sep-16 20:04:21

I'm sorry for your loss. It is hard isn't it?
See them as part of the family archive, in years to come there won't be printed photo and your grandchildren may be fascinated by the old photos, how your mum and dad sent their time, etc, the fashions as well would be interesting.
Take your time and do it when you feel strong enough
(I haven't 10 years on!)

CotswoldStrife Wed 14-Sep-16 20:08:05

Sorry for your loss, OP.

We had to do this for my inlaws. In the end we packed them all up and took them home, every time we tried to go through them we would just find photos of ourselves, point and laugh (fashion and hair had a fair bit to do with this).

We did keep all the photos, even though we didn't know who was in them in some cases. Not that the passage of time will improve this aspect, but they are so difficult to throw away grin

We are arranging to take all the photos to my 80 year old great aunt, in the hope she recognises some of the people and locations, or can guess dates. We intend to add stickers or something on the back of each photo with this info. I'm hoping then that if the DC want to look at them in the future they will have a reference.

bestbefore Thu 15-Sep-16 13:25:03

Wondered if there was a local museum who might be interested in some of the beachy / days out photos - I think my mum donated some to her mums local museum as a social history kind of display?

Bloodybridget Sat 17-Sep-16 14:25:22

Thereinmadness that's a great plan. Really important to get the memories and stories from older people while there's time.

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