Photos and Coping with Grief and Loss

As part of the grieving process, we tend to sit and spend time looking at photos of ourselves and our loved ones. We remember the good times and cry over the fact that they are gone. Indeed there is a general suggestion that we create a photo album of our loved one so that we have something to remember them by. But what if doing so actually causes us more pain than needed?

Photos are an incredibly recent invention. Before that we had paintings and not everyone had a picture created of themselves. It was something that was reserved for the rich. Therefore, it wasn’t common for people to have pictures of their loved ones. Photos have therefore changed how we grieve.

They can become tools of torture. We stare at them wondering what our loved one would look like now. We focus on past memories and torment ourselves that we can never have more events like this. What benefit can come from this? We are caught up in a past that no longer is and a future that can never be creating sadness in the now.

If we look to nature there is no such thing as photos. Nature is not concerned with what existed in the past or what will be in the future. It focuses on and accepts the now. Can you imagine a tree standing cuddling its branches mourning the loss of its leaves in winter as it stares at a picture of itself in summer?

So the next time you find yourself looking at pictures of your loved one and becoming overwhelmed by grief, put the photos away. Sit quietly with your eyes close and focus on the love that exists between you and your loved one. Forget what they looked like, for that is gone. Yet the love still remains and can provide you more comfort than a photo ever can.

I’m not saying go and throw all your photos out and never think about what your loved one looked like ever again. Personally I like knowing that I have photos there should I want to look at them or show them to people. Yet funnily enough, I never want to.

Tabitha Jayne

More Articles Written by Tabitha

Tabitha Jayne is a leading expert in the field of grief and growth coaching, having first developed an interest in the topic following the sudden death of her younger brother. The founder of “Transform Grief. Live Fully. Thrive Loss” coaching and workshops, Tabitha is also the creator of “Tree of Transformation”, a five-step process that helps individuals fully let go of grief and transform loss into a lasting legacy that positively impacts both themselves and the world. Her latest book is Thriving Loss: Move beyond grief to a place of peace, passion and purpose. She is also a contributing author in Open to Hope: Inspirational stories of healing after loss and has presented on The Transformative Power of Nature in Grief and Loss at the International Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society and the ADEC Annual Conference. She is also the Head Coach of Grief & Growth Coaching at the International Coach Academy. She says, “The death of my brother was the most profound experience and loss in my life. It made me realise that life is too short and challenged me to transform my own life into something that I was proud of. Despite all the pain and anguish, all the tears and hurt, my brother dying is one of the best things that happened to me. Peter motived me to learn to live life fully both as tribute to him and to gain meaning from tragedy.” Tabitha is a Certified Professional Coach from the International Coach Academy and an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation. Her academic background is in Psychology with a BSc (Hons) from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh where she conducted research into “Attachment and the Type of Loss Experienced by the Bereaved in Continuing Bonds”. She is currently completing a M.S. in Applied Ecopsychology and Coaching in Grief and Growth with Project NatureConnect, The Institute of Global Education. Prior to founding ‘Transform Grief. Live Fully. Thrive Loss’ and working with clients worldwide helping them to live more and grieve less, Tabitha was the co-founder and director of Pedro Project, a non-profit organization which ran for 6 years providing information, advice and support to help bereaved young people. During this time she was a finalist in the Everywoman 2004 awards as well as Cosmopolitan´s Fun, Fearless Female 2006 Awards. She was also featured in The Sun, The Sunday Post Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Edinburgh Evening News and on local and regional radio as well as in the Channel 4 documentary for young adults entitled “Losing You” Get your free audio of the Introduction and Chapter One of Thriving Loss: Move beyond grief to a place of peace, passion and purpose at www.tabithajayne.com

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



  • Neil Chethik says:

    I’m kinda the opposite, Tabitha. I love to look at photos and hold mementos. In fact, I have my grandfather’s watch on today. Every time I check the time, I think of his belly-bouncing laugh.

  • Tabitha Jayne says:

    Thanks for your comment Neil. You touch an important point – the point of any action in grieving and mourning is to bring us comfort and how we achieve this is different for all of us.