Wedding Woes

Send the pics.

Dear Prudence,

When I was in elementary school in the late 80s and early 90s, I knew a girl named “Anna” who died of cancer when we were in 3rd grade. I wouldn’t say we were ever exactly friends—we never went over to each other’s houses or anything—but we were good acquaintances. We were in the same class in 1st and 2nd grade, and we played on the same soccer team for a year. During this time, my mom was a stay-at-home mom and frequently volunteered at the school as a classroom helper and field trip chaperone. She always took lots and lots of pictures of everything, but she never did anything with them. She would develop them and put them in shoeboxes to “sort through later.” Long story short, she has about a dozen shoeboxes of photographs in her basement. I started staying with her during the initial shelter-in-place order in April 2020, and I’m still here while I’m working remotely. We both started working on various projects around the house, and I decided to finally tackle those boxes of photos and get them organized and put into albums.

While going through these pictures, I have found a lot with Anna in them, most from before she got sick. The majority of these are of things that her parents wouldn’t have pictures of—Anna in class or playing with other kids at recess, or posing with a group of kids on a field trip. My first thought was that I should reach out to Anna’s parents and pass them on. But how do I do this? Do I just send them the pictures out of the blue? Show up on their doorstep? Write a letter telling them about the pictures and asking if they want to see them? A big part of me thinks they will want these photos, and it wouldn’t be right for me to keep them from them, but then again I don’t know if it would just be opening old wounds to suddenly send them pictures of their child who’s been dead for almost 30 years. What should I do, and what should I say?

— Blast from the Past

Re: Send the pics.

  • Write a letter and send the pictures together. Seal them separately and note to read the letter first. Sort of like a content warning if they’re not prepared to look at them right away. 

    What you say is exactly what you said here, you found these and you wanted them to be passed to her family. Let them decide how and when to open them. 
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    This a good Prudie letter. An email first like “I am ____.  I have ____.  Would you like these copies? I’m more than willing to send them”.

    i think you’d need to do this anyway? Right? To get their address.  Sure you can look them up but I’d always be worried of incorrect online info anyway. Maybe they’re renting out that house and moved in with someone else?

  • I'm also curious if the LW already knows for sure where the parents live or how to get in touch with them.

    I wouldn't trust these pics to the mail, unless they are copies.  If it were me, I'd contact them via e-mail/phone/ or a letter if I didn't have anything else, introduce myself, and let them know I had these pictures.  Offer to drop them off or I could mail copies if they would prefer that.

    There isn't a doubt in my mind that Anna's parents would love to have these pictures.  Grief dulls over the years, but the wound never goes away.  And you get to a place where remembering your loved ones...especially if someone else remembers more like cherished memories instead of fresh grief.

    I had a gentleman (M) contact me via e-mail a couple years ago.  I didn't remember who he was, but he was a coworker and friend of my dad back in the mid/late '70s.  Similar to the LW, he'd been going through old photos and found some of our families together.  He Googled my dad's (and my) last name (it's unique) and discovered he had passed away years ago.  But, in his Googling, he found an e-mail address for me.

    He sent me an e-mail expressing his condolences.  What I just said in the last paragraph.  And that he couldn't find a contact for my mom, but was hoping she was doing well and I asked if I could pass along the photos to her (they were attached).

    I called my mom, told her about the e-mail, and that he had said hi.  Then I forwarded the e-mail to her so she would have the pics.  She knew who he was and filled me on things we did with his family that I vaguely remembered.  I don't know if she replied back to him.  I kind of don't think she did.  But I replied back.  I thanked him so much for thinking of us and a few sentences about how we had all been doing.  I passed along my mom's thanks also.

    I know I can't speak for Anna's parents.  And it's different to lose a parent than losing one's young child.  But receiving the e-mail from M was a positive experience and I really appreciated that he was kind enough to reach out to us.  
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I think you should contact the parents, like PPs have said, and offer the pictures. I'm sure they will want them. I have a very close cousin who lost his son at the age of 18. He wants to talk about and see pictures of him - not forget him. He likes it when people remember to mention his son. 
  • Reach out to the parents and offer the photos to them first, and if they say they'd like to see them, go ahead and send (or drop them off if they are nearby). Don't just send the pictures without warning. It's kind of you to think of them.
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