As I said in my previous post “Belongings” (3-31-2014), “Dispensing with belongs collected over a lifetime is generally not an easy task.” Becky Monroe documents the emotionally wrenching process in her blog “An Only Child’s Journey into Parent Care.” (beginning with Finding Out Who Your Friends Are, 3-24-14).
Check out Susan Diamond’s perspective about downsizing on link below, and then note my comment about photographs.
My comment: Thankfully, my brother and I shared the task of going through my mother’s things. There wasn’t much family history left in her physical belongings. Our father died when we were teens; Mom had moved and downsized a number of times since then. She had her remaining things completely organized, something I think we both appreciated.
This is not to say we did not relive, regret, and grieve—mostly for what could have been, but never was. I took home the box of pictures, which remained packed away for another thirteen years.
When my mother-in-law passed away (after living with us for four years) my husband “inherited” another box of pictures. He divvied them up into five big piles—one for himself, one for his brother, one each for his two sisters, one for the trash.
I agree with what you said: “The most frustrating part was looking at photos of people with no names to identify them.” And also, as you did, I wondered: “What will children of today find in the way of photos when their parents are gone?” (since all the pictures seem to be saved by the gazillions on their various devices).
In the light of my caregiving experience, and with the hope that my children will not have to face avoidable stress, I have pledged that I will not leave my children the burden of my messes (such as boxes of pictures). Therefore, I spent a number of months making picture books to document the history of both sides of our family.