Looking at old photographs jogs my memory of the precious moments I long to relive. Sometimes it’s looking at baby photos of my son. Other times it’s looking at my own childhood photos or the photos of my loved ones who are no longer living. But then there’s times when I look at photos of my husband’s loved ones and I’m filled with curiosity and want to know more. It’s fascinating to be teleported to a place and time that no longer exists through the visual retelling of one’s history.
The Importance Of Remembering
For those of us who have lost loved ones, that album or box of photos of the faces we long to touch again has so much value.
And it continues to grow in value as my own family matures. Both my and my husband’s dad’s are no longer living. The story of our dads is somewhat intertwined but not at all related. For example, today, Sept. 11th, is my dad’s birthday. He would’ve turned 67 years old this year. For my husband, today is different – it’s not a day of celebrating life but the loss of his dad who died on 9/11. Two lives that share a date but for very polarizing reasons.
Practicing remembrance of our loved ones through photographs and storytelling with our children provides an invaluable opportunity for them to gain a sense of belonging. It also gives us, the storytellers, a sense of pride and deeper life meaning. By sharing old photographs children can see what they, their parents, grandparents and beyond looked like. It’s also a great prompt to share family stories. There are so many reasons to celebrate the life of a no longer living loved one through remembrance:
- To connect with the living by sharing our past
- To acknowledge how your past has informed who you are today
- To establish a sense of belonging
- To instill a sense of confidence and inspiration in our children through the retelling of the funny, acclaimed and mundane of their family
- To acknowledge changes in personal self-identity
- To ponder and identify new meaning in life
Photographs Strengthen Memory and Relationships
Looking at old photographs enables conversations about the past with children and other loved ones. It helps strengthen both memory and relationships. But again, this only happens when you look at photographs. Humans have an extraordinary ability to encode photographs. A study that has been repeated over and over again for the past 50 years demonstrates that while people may have a hard time recalling an image, when they view a photograph they’ve seen before it’s instantly familiar and they’re able to have an easier time recalling memories pertaining to it. This is because our brains are efficient at storing the “essence” of a photograph.
Take a moment to remember the ones you love past or present. Pull out an old photograph and share a story about them with your children. It’ll leave you and them feeling more connected than ever.