Scrapbooking for Healing Pain

By: Jacqueline M. Schimmel

It is terrible to lose a family member (or in some cases pets) and most of us have had to suffer such a loss. Everyone grieves differently. Some people can express their grief and overcome it quicker than others who find it difficult to grieve and express their feelings. What I have found, is that it scrapbooking can help heal when suffering a loss. It can provide a little bit of closure and help you to grieve in a more productive way, because what you're doing with scrapbooking is not only displaying photos, you are telling a story, talking about your feelings and sharing your pain, even if you don't show it to anyone.

I didn't realize what a healing effect scrapbooking had until my cat died and my father-in-law died. First, my cat Pooky died of an apparent heart attack when he was 16 years old. I was lucky enough to be with him when he died, as I would have felt very guilty if I hadn't been at home. The very next day, I started a mini album as a tribute to my cat. I made it so special, remembering all the little details about him, the silly things he used to do, what I miss about him and how big he was (a regular Garfield). After I had finished the album, I realized that, hey, that really helped me. I don't feel as bad as the first few days after he died. I believe that I was able to deal with his death much quicker than if I had not scrapped about it.

My father-in-law died last year of a rare internal melanoma cancer at the age of 75. This was about four months after his birthday. For his birthday present, I had the idea to make a huge scrapbook of his life and career. I spent long weeks making the album just perfect. I loved this man dearly. It was such a joy to see him looking at it and how much he appreciated me making it for him. He was overwhelmed and I think I made him smile for the first time that day. We thought the cancer had gone away, but I was sceptical. I've known so many people with cancer and I just know that many times there is no cure. It made me proud to make him happy, even if only for a moment. Had I known that he would no longer be with us four months later, I don't think I would have made that album. In the end, I'm glad I did though, because it is a documentation of his whole life. Now, the rest of the family can look at it from time to time and remember him and what a wonderful person he was. It helped me to make the album. I was able to grieve immediately when he died and although I sometimes still cry, the pain just gets to be less each time.

If you are a scrapbooker, then you might even know what I'm talking about. I guess I somehow sensed it was going to help me get over my pain, like a kind of instinct. People that have difficulties speaking to someone about their grief and pain now have a way to express their feelings without being really forced emotionally to talk about it with someone. No one else has to see your layout or album. That is entirely up to you. But, if you do want to "talk" about it, all you have to do is show it to someone.

Can't figure out what to express in your layout? Take the best photo of the person or animal, and / or a photo together with you. That is the first step. Choose your cardstock, patterned paper to match the photo and set the mood. Then you might want to write a little something. You can right about what you liked best about them, the funny things they did that made you laugh, what you miss about them, what their favourite color, food, animal, hobby was, or just what made them so special to you. If you want, you can write about how much it hurts you, how losing this person has affected you. I know it's tough, but it might just help you with your grieving and with a little bit of the pain. It feels good to get it out and down on paper and if it's something creative, then all the better. You will feel good about creating something, about writing down your feelings and about remembering good times with that person.

I hope this idea will be able to help you with your loss. I can only speak from experience. It helped me a lot.

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