Family Pictures are Worth the Investment

The days, weeks, and months after someone very close to you dies are strange. You want to go on living your life and to have things go back to normal, but things aren’t normal. Part of you is missing, and it’s hard to fill that void. Shortly after my dad died, I filled my time by distracting myself, but that only works for so long; before I knew it, I’d miss him again…a lot.

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When we came back home right after his funeral I found one of my dad’s shirts in our guest room. He forgot to pack it the last time they were here, just before he went into the hospital, and before I knew it I enveloped myself in it and just inhaled whatever scent of him was left lingering. As I tried to embrace what wasn’t there, the tears fell. That seems to be a trend—even today, almost four months later: remember something and cry. It’s strange how we can be totally fine one minute, but then one single instance will remind us of him, and bam! before we know it, we’re sad and crying. There have been so many tears in the past few months, but it feels good to cry; it’s healing.

Just after his funeral I found myself searching for any photos I could find of my dad, just so I could see his face again. I scoured the thousands of pictures on my phone for any candid shots I took over the past year, and while those are great, and I’m happy I found some, I felt guilty.

Guilty, because even though I spent three straight weeks with him just before he passed away on an epic road trip, I only have a handful of pictures with him in them. Instead, I have about ten thousand pictures of my girls from that trip.

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Since I don’t have that many of him, I find myself going back to the last set of family pictures we took around this time last year. I insisted that we all get together and take the photos when we were home visiting, and I’m so happy we made it happen, because (even though I loved them before), they’re now literally priceless in my eyes.

These bring me so much happiness, and I’m thankful we made it a point to take family photos. Yes, it’s great to take those milestone pictures with your kids and very immediate family (cake smashes, yearly Christmas card pics,  and even maternity photos), but don’t forget about the rest of your extended family. Not only will you love seeing them later, but your kids will appreciate seeing them as they get older—especially if some members of your family are no longer around.

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I’ve mentioned this before, but my youngest is literally obsessed with seeing my dad’s photo. I can’t have my computer open without her pointing to it and shouting, “TATA,” because she wants to see him. And then when I pull up his picture she literally giggles and points to him, just repeating his name. She’ll never get to know him; the new baby won’t get to know him. Shoot, even the older grand kids will have to rely on their memories of him.

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Thankfully, we have these pictures…these snapshots in time that they’ll see over and over again, and even though they may not fully remember him, I’m grateful they’ll at least get to grow up seeing him.

Will those pictures cost money? Yes. But sometimes a photo is literally priceless.

Photos taken by the wonderful Kim Jackson Photography in Albuquerque, New Mexico

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7 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss (I’m just now reading about it!) Like you, I was amazed how I could be fine one minute and a blubbering mess the next when my dad died 5 years ago. It took a long time to get used to our new normal- life without him. I still miss him so much. My girls never got to meet him but we do talk about him so they know who he is. Even now, there are days when it hits me.

    Your photos ARE priceless. I’m so glad that you have them to treasure!

  2. I wish I had more pictures with my mom too. She was so happy to see both my and my twin brother married in the year and a half before she died. We have so many great wedding photos with her. Her cancer diagnosis was a few months after my wedding and a few months before my twin brother’s.

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss- sending hugs and love you’re way! I only have a few pictures of my grandmother and me together and I am so careful with them since I don’t want to lose them. You’ve inspired me to set up a mini holiday shoot with my baby and her grandparents this Christmas break.

  4. You brought me to tears. My dad was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and even though he is still with us, I have been through every emotion you described. The crying, the memories, the pictures… everything. Thank you for the reminder to capture moments on camera because they will be more than cherished later in life. I am so so sorry for your loss, and I pray you may find peace in the midst of heartache.

    1. My prayers and thoughts are with you as your dad battles his diagnosis. I stalked your blog a little, and saw that he has lymphoma. My dad had non-hodgkins lymphoma years ago (and I know there are so many different types out there), but the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will always have a piece of me with them. I’m not sure if you’ve looked into them yet, but they offer SOOOOOOOO much support for families. Enjoy this season with your dad and your family, and I’m always around if you need an ear to listen to you 🙂

  5. Beautiful thoughts friend. I think we’re all guilty of this, we don’t really realize the importance of something like pictures until it’s too late. I’m so glad you have those pictures of you guys together.

  6. Aw, it’s so great that you have these! What wonderful memories to look back on. I don’t have any professional pictures with my dad from before he passed away – it was over 10 years ago and very sudden / unexpected, so we just didn’t take family pictures. Oh, how I wish! I do have plenty with him, as well as lots of home videos, so I’m grateful to at least have those.

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