June 19, 2007,
L.G. asks from Holmen, WI on June 12, 2007
What to Do with Sympathy Cards
My father passed away in January, and it seems as if my stepmother is trying to erase his memory from her life. On the day of the funeral, she placed several garbage bags in my sister's car which contained all his personal belongings, right down to his underwear! Last week, my brother received a package from her which contained every single sympathy card she received, plus pages taken out of photo albums that had pictures of Dad's family in them. I am trying to sort everything out and make sure everyone gets some of the pictures (could use suggestons for that), but what I'm really struggling with is what to do with the sympathy cards. I sure hate to just toss them, and some of them contain special memories of Dad. Any ideas?
So What Happened?™
Thanks everyone, for your thoughtful responses and suggestions. I wanted to share what we finally decided to do, and I actually have to give credit to my hubby for the idea. He suggested scanning the photos, certain "special" sympathy cards, and some of the other special items that were in my Dad's stuff. I am now working on putting them into a Powerpoint, so I can make a copy for all the siblings. I think my computer may allow me to even put it all on a DVD, so I'm looking into that. It's much less expensive than printing a photo album, and it's something I know my kids will look at in years to come. Since I'm not much of a creative type (aka scrapbooker), this is a better option for me.
I also wanted to let you all know that I did have a heart to heart with my stepmom. She's a fairly brisk person, always has been, and her remark was, "I cried all my tears, kid. I'm movin' on." I will always be thankful for the wonderful care she gave my Dad during the months he was ill, but apparently, she doesn't want to be a part of our lives anymore.
K.I. answers from Minneapolis on June 13, 2007
My mother passed away 10 years ago. I find it very healing and uplifting to read the cards. I think it's a good idea to just keep them, in case you want to read them sometime.
N.B. answers from St. Cloud on June 13, 2007
First of all, let me say I am so sorry to hear of your loss! I lost my father on Christmas morning so it's fresh for me, too and I can completely understand what you may be feeling. I can imagine how you kids must have felt by her actions. I dont' know if it helps, but my mom did something similar and it seemed to be "rushing" the issue to us kids, but I think it was actually harder for her to see his things around the house because she really misses him more whenever she sees something that reminds her of Dad. Although I (obviously) don't know what your step-mother's relationship with your dad was (or is with you kids), if she stayed with him through an illness she had to care. Remember that she's grieving, too... even if it seems that she's being harsh... everyone handles death in their own way and it may be different than your experience.
I got all the photos of my dad from my mom (as well as mine) and made copies of them for scrapbooks for each of us kids (there are four of us). I borrowed a photo copier from my in-laws and bought the paper and ink cartridges... so it was far more economical than going to a photo shop to copy the pictures since I could put up to eight or more pictures on a page (if I trimmed them first). It's a LOT of work, but I believe they will cherish the gift when they get them at Christmas (bittersweet first year anniversary). I took stories from the cards and friends and put them as journaling entries in the scrapbook. You could choose to keep only those cards that have stories or cards from people who knew your dad well (or keep them all if you're a "saver"). I've found that scrapbooking my Dad's life has been fairly therapeutic (I've cried a lot, but there have been happy tears in there, too).
If you choose to scrapbook the photos and cards, it might be nice to copy the person's handwriting that shared a story and put that in as a page or journal entry (as long as their writing is legible). ;o)
Take care and best wishes to you, Nicki
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L.R. answers from Duluth on June 13, 2007
I have an awsome idea. Make a scrap book for everone in your family. make one using the cards and photo's and just go to a photo shop and get copies for everyone. that way you do not have to worry about who gets what as far as photos go cause everyone has all of them.
M.C. answers from Minneapolis on June 13, 2007
First off I want to say that I'm sorry you had to lose your dad. I lost mine May 23rd. Death of a loved one can be stressful and hard. I don't think your step-mother is erasing her memory of him. She can't erase the memories but maybe it helps her to not look at everything of his. It's a constant reminder that he won't be back. She wants to move on the best she can. She will always remember him. He has forever stepped into all of your hearts and how we deal with that loss is ours and ours alone. Please show your support to her and talk things out if need be. Each person deals with loss differently. She could toss everything into a big dumpster but it sounds like she want the kids to get it. That's awesome.
As for the photos I guess you could all go through them and pick out the ones you all really want and make copies if you need to. If you can't decide then take the time to remoitve them from the album and make copies or call a photo place and see if they can make a copy while the pictures are still in the photo book. As far as the cards I guess you could take the best ones and frame them. The ones with a lot of personal verbage I would display the words. You can then hang it on the wall.
C.L. answers from Milwaukee on June 13, 2007
It's a very hard and personal decision on what to do with all their personal belongings. When my mom passed away we divided up all the pictures between the kids and her close friends. Her sympathy cards were put in a nice box (like the photo boxes) and were kept with other little items so we can look back and remember how much she meant to others. We have passed it around between the family. Sorry to hear about the loss of your dad, it's never easy when a loved one dies. Good luck.
K.M. answers from Green Bay on June 13, 2007
When my father passed away, I took all our sympathy cards and dried flower petels and put them in a shoe box that I had covered with wrapping paper that reminded me of him. During the next few weeks, any momento I came across or picture that was particularly special, other notes from friends, Bible verses that helped me cope... they all went in there too. I call it my "Dad box" and while it just sits on a shelf in my basement, I'm glad to know its there for the next time I need to revisit those items and remember him in a special way.
Hope that helps!!!
S.I. answers from Rochester on June 13, 2007
first of all, I am sorry for your loss my hubby and I lost his dad in October last year it was really rough but, you can remember him with the pictures you have throw in the cards,and you have the beginging of a great "DAD" album. then when your kids or grandkids ask about him you can keep his memory alive by pulling out a book that contains wonderful stories and pictures of him!
good luck and so sorry
A.H. answers from Rochester on June 13, 2007
It sounds to me like she is taking he death very hard. Instead of grieving normally she is trying her best to "erase" him like you said. Some times things just feel easier to deal with if you ignore them. Try and talk to her. Be supportive. I know you just lost your father and it is very hard. Remember she just lost her husband. Do your best to talk to her and support her and let her know you are there. She needs grief counseling. She probably won't want to go. But let her know that you are more then happy to help her find some one to talk to when she feels ready.
T.T. answers from La Crosse on June 14, 2007
Sorry for your loss. It is a hard time i am sure. My suggestion is to see if you have any photos or can get photos of your father with the person who wrote the memory on the card and place them together in an album.if you chose to you can place them in a box with other things that have special meaning and sentiment of your father. This is nice to have on the days we need to be close to the one we lost.
As for your stepmother, we all greive differently, some can't bear to part others cant bear to look at a constant reminder of what is gone. If it bothers you ask her her reasons for giving away everything.
Again i am sorry for your loss and hope this idea helps a little.