Are Deceased Wife’s Photos a Bad Sign?

By Amy Dickinson | June 7th, 2024

When a widower displays the photos years later – even in the bedroom

Are Deceased Wife’s Photos a Bad Sign? A grieving man, with an empty chair and coffee cup beside him, a framed photo in his hand. By dmytro zinkevych

When a deceased wife’s photos are still hanging around, does that mean the widower is not ready to make space for someone new? Two widows ask for advice about the widowers they are dating.

Dear Amy:

I have been dating “John” for three years now. We are both widow/widower for over a decade.

John wants me to live with him his home, but he still has wedding portraits and lots of pictures of him with his late wife displayed around the house that he doesn’t plan on putting away.

I would be happy even if he chose a bedroom to dedicate to all his memories.

We talked a lot about marriage, but constant talk of his “wife” makes me feel like we should just live separately.

I have a deceased partner. I refer to my late husband frequently, too, but when we’re around lots of friends, I refer to him by his first name, and not as “my husband.”

I have been through the same things as John regarding losing a spouse, but I just want to live the rest of my life happily and move on.

Do you think I’m asking too much? I just need your insight.

– Ready for a Fresh Start

Dear Ready:

If “John” wants you to move in with him, then the house wouldn’t be only his house, but your house, together.

This means that he should compromise regarding the decor.

Doing this is a physical expression of literally “making space” for you.

You are approaching this in a spirit of compromise; he is not. John doesn’t sound ready to make space for you. Given the length of time that has passed since his wife’s death, I don’t think you should expect him to change.

And this deceased wife’s photo is in his bedroom

Dear Amy:

My boyfriend and I have been together for five years.

His late wife was a wonderful woman. They were together for 30 years before her sudden death. He still has a copy of their wedding photo on the wall in the bedroom we share.

I am not happy about it. I expressed my concerns, however it is still up.

What should I do? Do you think he is still grieving?

– Concerned

Dear Concerned:

Grief isn’t an all-or-nothing state, but tends to walk through a person’s daily life. Grief … passes through.

You’ve expressed your concerns about having this photo in your bedroom (and I can see why that would be a concern), but you don’t seem to have offered any alternatives. Is there another place in the house where the photo could be integrated into a larger story of your guy’s life, featuring other photos from your pasts, as well as those of your shared life?

I hope you’ll make some reasonable suggestions.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a deceased wife’s photos to dark family secrets and DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

©2024 by Amy Dickinson

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