Documenting death and those who have passed on

Death is a fact of life, but it is often  a difficult subject to approach on a scrapbook page. I have to admit that I haven't scrapbooked about any funerals in our family albums yet. I've been putting those pages off. I generally don't take photos at a funeral, except for gatherings of family and friends who attend. Everyone has a different view on this though and that is ok. I thought it would be interesting and helpful to share a few ideas about documenting death and those who have passed on before us.

There are many different views about the appropriateness of taking photos at a funeral or cemetery. Certainly, the wishes of the immediate family should be considered in such situations. At this already difficult time, take care not to cause any discomfort in how you document the events. There are many ways to include funeral details in a scrapbook without actual pictures. This is a time when a scenic nature photo combined with meaningful journaling can be a special way to tell the story of the day. There are also opportunities to photograph friends and family in group settings away from the actual funeral events. One of the most beautiful examples I have ever seen of documenting a funeral can be found on Heidi Swapp's blog. Be sure to have some tissues nearby when you read this!

Collecting condolence cards and guestbook signatures can be a wonderful way to remember the many kindnesses and support of friends and families as you deal with the grief of losing a loved one. You may wish to tuck these into a pocket page in a scrapbook album, or just keep them in a special keepsake box.

Journaling about a great loss can be a therapeutic and emotional experience. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing those thoughts with a general audience, you may wish to keep them in a private journal, or put them in an envelope or folder on the layout itself.

There are many people who have passed on in my life besides immediate family or close friends. Sometimes an important teacher, or a friend from long ago has died and I have wanted to do something to remember them. In these cases, it is not always appropriate to dedicate a scrapbook page to the person. I decided several years back, that I would keep a binder album of people who have touched my life in some way.

This is a place where I can file letters, funeral programs, newspaper articles and even obituaries. I simply slip the pages into sheet protectors and file them in the binder in order of the date. I don’t worry about keeping actual newspaper clippings; I print the articles online so they are on standard size sheets of paper. Only recently have I realized that I should put a personal note with each entry so others might understand why this person was important in my life. This has been a good system for me and I feel like this is truly an important “scrapbook” as well.