Scrapbooking Through Loss & Tragedy — Nanci Radford

with 37 Comments

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Note from the author . . .
In September 2020 I connected with a longtime member of our community, Nanci Radford. She shared her story of devastating loss and how scrapbooking played a major role in the healing process. Below is Nanci’s story, in her own words. — Jen White, owner of DigitalScrapper.com


Post Images: Created with Inner Beauty by Palvinka Designs

I began scrapbooking 20 years ago when my first grandchild was born. My purpose was simply to create memories that would someday mean something to him. I paper scrapped for almost five years, starting a second scrapbook when my first granddaughter was brought into the world in 2002.

 

Pages by Nanci Radford

 

In 2005, I discovered Scrappers Guide (now Digital Scrapper) and was immediately hooked. The most important benefit to me was being able to print the pages on archival safe paper, reassuring me that the pages would last a long time. As time went on, five more grandkids were added to the brood, and by 2017, I had seven scrapbooks in the works.

 

Pages by Nanci Radford

My focus was usually on special events like holidays, birthdays, first day of school, graduations, a new house or a lost tooth! Each page was created with love as a forever gift to each of them, knowing that the cycle of life will not allow me to be here forever.

 

Pages by Nanci Radford

 

Following our vacation to Italy, I created a memory book for the friends that we traveled with. They loved it, and to this day they keep it visible for visitors to see. I’ve done wedding albums for all of my own children, and as gifts for others; and I could go on and on about how much such a personal gift meant to each recipient.

 

Pages by Nanci Radford

 

Scrapbooking became a sort of therapy for me. While most of my pages were about happy times, fun times and monumental times, I found that I did my best scrapping when I felt nostalgic. I learned that when I had a tough day or felt overwhelmed, I could sit with my computer and reframe my thoughts to something more relaxing and positive. Scrapping allowed me time to focus on how lucky I am to have such beautiful moments to remember.

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Then tragedy hit our family…hard! In May of 2018, we learned that our sweet daughter, Staci, had been diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. The next year and a half was a series of many highs and lows, long drives and late nights. Staci lived about six hours away, which meant we all split up the time to be with her, her husband and her son.

 

Pages by Nanci Radford

 

We lost Staci on September 19, 2019. She fought the fight with all she had, staying positive until the end, because that is who she was! When our family gathered to plan a celebration of her life, we went through the hundreds and hundreds of photos from the past 46 years. We told stories and we laughed, and we chose our favorites for the story boards. Using my scrapbooking skills, I was able to add quotes and stories to those photos.

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I share all of this with my scrapbook family because each of you, at some time or another, will feel the pain of tragedy. I can’t deny this was the most devastating moment of my life. I felt a need to be a mother, a friend, a daughter, a spouse, a grandmother…to give love, support, strength, hugs, compassion and humor to those around me. I felt blessed by friends and acquaintances that reached out to me with offers to help.

 

pages by Nanci Radford

But nothing came close to easing my pain and giving me purpose like the moments I spent scrapbooking. It was my time to document the story of her life; to create memories of Staci for her husband and son, her grandmother, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and friends in a way that meant something to those that loved her so deeply.

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I don’t think it was a coincidence that Karen Schulz’ Sketch Effect tutorial came out the day before the anniversary of Staci’s passing. The sketch effect had such a soft and calming effect, and with Staci on my mind all day, I decided to create a memory of her with one of my favorite photos. It did my heart good to create the layout and share it with the family when we got together to remember and celebrate her life. I plan to choose a different photo each year and keep a scrapbook going forward…just to remind us all how lucky we were to have had her in our lives.

 

Page: Remembering Staci by Nanci Radford Tutorial: Sketch Effect 2 Kits/Supplies: Duty, Honor, Country by Danyale Fonts: Bridgetown and Dandelion Vintage

 

In closing, I want to encourage all of you, whether you are a newbie or a seasoned scrapper, to use your scrapbooking skills not just to share photos, but to share stories. Journal, journal, journal! Document the happy times, the funny times, the monumental times, AND the sad and difficult times. Your stories will mean so much to those you love and to future generations! Let your scrapping be your happy place, your calming place, a place where you document life.

I want to thank Jen White and my entire Digital Scrapper Family for allowing me to share my story and memories of our beautiful, sweet and loving Staci!

Love, Nanci Radford
Round Beach Lake, IL

 

 


Do You Have a Story to Tell of Scrapbooking Through Loss or Tragedy?

Do you have a story to tell of how scrapbooking helped you heal through loss or tragedy? If so, we’d love to hear about it.

Credits

Post Images: Created with Inner Beauty by Palvinka Designs

Page: Remembering Staci by Nanci Radford
Tutorial: Sketch Effect 2
Kits/Supplies: Duty, Honor, Country by Danyale
Fonts: Bridgetown and Dandelion Vintage

Page: Wonder of Max by Nanci Radford
Tutorial: Corner Fold by Scrappers Guide
Kits/Supplies: Autumn Splendor by Karen Aicken
Fonts: olkien, Scriptina, Alois, UltraShadow, SayerSpiritualMN

Page: Year of the Monkey by Nanci Radford
Tutorial: Making Lace by Scrappers Guide
Kit/Supplies: Black Tie by Michelle Coleman
Fonts: SevenMonkeyFuryBB

Page: 6th Grade Memories
Kit/Supplies: Frames by Katie Pertiet, Back2School Whimsy by Jen Allyson, Holly Designs and Digital Scrapper Designs, School Zone by Lily Pad
Font: Freshman and Clementine Sketch

Page: Loves of my Life by Nanci Radford
Kits/Supplies: Thankfully by Krystal Hartley, Rich Autumn by Kim Jensen, Collageable Pieces by Katie Pertiet, Fall Garden by Katie Pertiet, Autumn Days by Kristin Cronin-Barrow, Soaring High by Eva Kipler
Fonts: Gentle Giant and Wonderblend

Page: An Almost Winter Day
Kit/Supplies: Christmas Cheer by Dora at Scrapstreet, Christmas Chic by Studio NLD, Time For Misletoe & Holly by Jady Day Studios, Peace & Joy by Retrodiva
Fonts: Veteran Typewriter

Page: Always by Nanci Radford
Kits/Supplies: Letterbox Remnants by Katie Pertiet, Naturals by NS, Go Getter by Misty Cato
Font: Shink

Page: Ciao Italy Dedication by Nanci Radford
Kit/Supplies: Rusty Pumpkin Patch by Julie Meade
Font: Freshman

Page: Staci’s Journey by Nanci Radford
Kit/Supplies: Capture the Journey by Jocee Designs, Stacy Carlson at Gotta Pixel, Happy go Lucky at Shabby Princess Designs
Fonts: Shink

Page: Our Family by Nanci Radford
Autumn Flowers by Dana Zarling
Fonts: Windsor Great Park, Allura and Aleo

Page: Emma_Stand_Up_to_Cancer by Nanci Radford
Kit/Supplies: Dirty Grid by Brusheezy, Autumn Florwers by Dana Zarling, My Garden by Maria Designs
Fonts: Berolina and DJB Coffee Shoppe Espresso

Page: This is Us by Nanci Radford
Kits/Supplies: Indian Summer by Coreen Silke, Art Palette by Cilenia Curtis
Font: Annoying Kettle

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37 Responses

  1. CrimsonCrow
    | Reply

    I don’t have children. I have had loss.
    I so deeply appreciate your sharing the story of yours with this community. I appreciate your reminder that pain and loss it is part of life and to be honored and appreciated for what it is. I thank you for your reminder and paraphrase it here: “how lucky we were to have had our loved ones in our lives.”
    You have inspired me to go deeper with my creative outlets. I thank you for that. You and Staci have touched, and changed this person.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Dear Crimson Crow,
      Thank you so much for allowing my story to inspire you! The most meaningful was the fact that my Staci is still touching this world and making a difference in the lives of others. Thank you for that!

  2. Gail Dahn
    | Reply

    My husband had MS . It was finally necessary for me to move him to a rest home. When it became very obvious that he was living his final days I started scrapbooking and documenting everything that happened – all the love and caring I received and all of the sorrow and fear I was feeling. After his passing I did not stop documenting. I noted how I was feeling and what things were helping me and the documenting was certainly an enormous source of healing. Each time I would go back and read what I had written and look at the pictures I would realize that each day I was coping better and better. I would absolutely encourage anyone going through a difficult situation to find a release in scrapbooking and documenting. It is truly a healing process.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Oh Gail, I am so truly sorry for your loss and hope that all the memories, feelings, love and caring will help to heal your hurt. It helps me to know that someone else was lucky enough to have scrapbooking to help to ease the the pain. I wish you nothing but happy moments and peaceful memories. I’m always here if you need a friend. Love, Nanci

  3. DiGi
    | Reply

    Nanci….you are an inspiration! I appreciate so much the sharing of your story. I read it as tears flowed & my heart breaks for your families loss….your pain….and your grief. But I very much appreciate how you pinpoint the importance of documenting all of life’s journeys….I needed to be reminded of that. Thank you!

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Your words are an inspiration to me DiGi…thank you! I can’t stress enough the importance of having, not just the photos, but the stories that go along with them. When we all get together we can smile instead of cry, and laugh about all the wonderful times we spent together. Thank you for your support and love!

  4. Terri Fullerton
    | Reply

    What a heartbreaking story Nanci. There is no way to understand what you and your family have gone through. I can only imagine how difficult it must be, even today. Your daughter and so many others suffer from these dreaded cancers. As an Oncology Nurse Practitioner and team member of Bone Marrow Transplant, it is devastating, yet heartening to see the strength and courage so many people poses in such trying times. My heart goes out to you and your family, now and in the future. Hugs across the miles.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Dear Terri,
      This means so much coming from you, as you have certainly become a friend through scrapbooking! Thank you for the work you must do as an Oncology Nurse Practitioner, to help families just like mine find their way through the unknown, the loss and the headache. It was my husband, my other three children, my grandkids, my family and friends that gave me the strength and courage to make it through. We are going to be OK and Staci will #always be with us in our hearts and our memories! Thanks you for the hugs…they mean so much!

  5. Val Sleger
    | Reply

    Nanci, as others have said, I am both saddened for your loss and humbled by the way in which you have honored your daughter’s life. From reading the comments, it’s clear that sharing your story has brought comfort to others who have scrapped through painful circumstances. I hope that continuing to celebrate her life through this hobby we all love brings you some peace. <3

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Thank you my dear scrapbooking friend! We celebrate Staci’s life each and every day. On the last day I saw her, I made a promise that I would do one deliberate kind deed each day in her memory, and I have lived up to that promise. I make it something that I know will make her proud. Sometimes it’s not getting upset with a bad driver, or thanking a store clerk, donating to a food pantry or taking a meal to the local police department. I know these are things that she would do, so it’s keeping her memory alive for all of us. I hope my story will encourage others to keep scrapping their stories! Love, Nanci

  6. Barbara Hewitt
    | Reply

    First let me say how sorry I am for your loss and your family’s loss. You are so right that we should scrap the good and the bad. Your pages and story show how much Staci was loved and what she meant to all of those whose life she touched. Your idea of an anniversary book of a favorite photo and memory of her is such a wonderful idea.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Thank you Barb,
      I also plan to put any photo I scrap of her during the year into the same album. It will then be there for everyone to see and remember. Thank you again for your condolences.

  7. Vicki Spencer
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have also found healing and comfort through scrapbooking after loss. Bur not at first. After my husband died in January, 1917, I couldn’t get myself to scrap anything and I was almost “caught up”. Every year for many years I have made a Family album as Christmas gifts for my kids, brother, and mother. That is one of the many things I love about digital scrapbooking. I can make many copies! I have years of traditional scrapbooks and there is only one copy. Almost a year ago, I started scrapping again. There were many tears as I made pages with wonderful pictures of my husband with no idea his life would soon be cut short–his death was sudden and unexpected. I did a page about his birthday and noted that our family had no idea it would be his last birthday. But I got through it and have great pages about his life and death. the memorial service was attended by over a thousand people who shared precious memories of this great man. And it is all in a scrapbook, so his grandchildren can see and read and know him through those pages. This April my 96 year old mother died of covid-19. Her death was 104 years after her sister died in the 1919 flu pandemic! That story made national news and it was a comfort to me that her wonderful story was heard by many people even though we weren’t able to have a funeral. And all the pages documenting that and details of her life are already scrapped, even though I’m not totally caught up to that date. I just made the pages numbered by the dates and will have them ready to go when I get there. Again, I’m grateful that my grandchildren and hopefully generations after that can know a bit about their history. I learned digital scrapbooking when Linda taught the class called “My Story” so I have my life in that book for future generations. I’m so grateful for this “hobby” that has meant so much to me in so many ways. Thank you more than I can say to Linda and all the digital scrapbook family for the classes and support.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Dear Vicki,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story and I am so sorry for the loss of someone you obviously loved so dearly. I can only hope that our stories will encourage others to scrap those important memories. Having the stories of those who are no longer with us can help to keep them alive in our hearts and give others the opportunity to know more about that person. I am also lucky enough to still have my mother with me at age 98. I make a point of taking photos of her with all her great-grandchildren for each of their albums. I, too, am so thankful to Linda for putting us all on this journey of discovery. Thank you again for sharing your story.

  8. Ann Kulseth
    | Reply

    I read your story with tears ,…. my daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 years ago. Through the grace of God, she is doing well but because I am a mother – and know firsthand the pain of watching your child go through something like this – I can relate in a minor way. I am so sorry for your loss – there is a special bond between mother and daughter that just can’t be explained. My heart goes out to you and your entire family. God’s peace to you all …. may your memories comfort you and through your scrapbook pages, you will keep her memory alive. Hugs ….

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Thank you for your support Ann. There was a quote I used many times during Staci’s ordeal “The hardest part about being a mother is watching your child go through something really tough and not being able to fix it.” It was such a feeling of helplessness; but I had family and friends that kept me centered so I was able to do whatever I could for my Staci. That same family and those same friends, along with my scrapping, are keeping her life and her memory alive. I am truly blessed! Please tell your daughter that I will keep her in my thoughts and prayers…and I hope she has beat the awful beast we call cancer…hugs, Nanci

  9. Sharron Lamb
    | Reply

    Nanci, I was pretty choked up as I read your story, and thank you for sharing it. I’m so sorry your daughter died so young.

    We lost our 2-year-old granddaughter, Morgan, in 2004. Back then few if any people had digital cameras. Certainly our daughter didn’t, nor did we. So in her short life, we took only a few pictures (as was the norm with film). I have also purposed to post a layout of her every year on her Going Home Day, not only in her memory, but to remind parents of little ones to attach furniture to the walls. It was a dresser that fell over on top of her. Some years, instead of using a photo of Morgan, I just do a sort of art journal page. My other reason for annual layouts is to remind people that her parents and grandparents wish you would talk about her! What hurts so much in succeeding years is that no one mentions them…like they never existed. I lost a granddaughter that day, but I also lost a daughter, for of course, it changed who Zanna is (as well as Erik and Morgan’s 4-year-old sister). Despite now having 5 other children, you NEVER “get over” a loss like this. I actually have a “friend” who criticized another friend because she thought that 5 years after the loss of her son, she should be getting over it! Of course, we do go on. And for the sake of the other people we love, we don’t go into a cave and grieve the rest of our lives. But we ARE grieving 16 years later, and think about what kind of an 18-year-old she would be, and even still cry from time to time when the waves of sorrow roll in. The pain isn’t as acute as it was the first few years, but it never goes away.

    We do take some consolation that Morgan was spared this “vale of tears,” and are assured we will reunite with her one day. And we remind ourselves that there are things worse than death! My aunt had a granddaughter who became a prostitute. We have a niece who is a pole-dancer in a strip club. There are children who are kidnapped, never to be seen again. To me those things are worse than death.

    Everybody has “something” to cope with that others have no clue about.

    Bless your heart. And may the grace and mercy of the Lord surround you and those who love Staci, and give you comfort.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Dearest Sharr,
      THIS is why I wanted to do this blog! I feel if more people would talk about their grief, it would ease some of the pain and suffering we all tend to keep inside, While both Morgan and Staci left us way too soon, they were still a part of our lives. We should celebrate that #always. Our family talks about Staci all the time. It keeps her with us, and we hope wherever she is, she is sharing the funny stories, the silliness and the tears with us.
      I am so sorry for your loss and I hope that sharing it with me brings calm to your heart. Thank you for sharing so many of your stories with your scrapping family. We all love your layouts!
      Love,
      Nanci

  10. Kay
    | Reply

    I lost my husband in Jan 2018. We had started a scrapbook of his military career several years before but it was only about a third done at the time of his death. I had promised him I would get it done ‘one day’. I spent weeks that summer working on what turned out to be 2 full albums of his 20 year military career and 2 full albums of his 19 career as a Technical Representative of an Aerospace company to the military. I was so proud on the day I finished them and could say “I kept my promise” to him. In addition, I had started a Memory album about him and my journey since he has died. The pages also are a celebration of our lives together and what a wonderful love we shared. I am still scrapping pages about him and our lives together and they bring me happiness and comfort and, yes, sometimes tears. I can look back through the pages and see how far I have come in the healing from such a profound loss.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Dear Kay,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story! I felt such a connection to it as I, too, work so hard to keep up the albums for my grandkids. I love when they come to visit and ask to look at them. We talk about all the things we’ve done together and all fun memories.
      You should be proud of the beautiful life you seem to have shared with your husband and the meaningful life he lived. Those memory albums will keep that beauty and pride alive for you and for future generations of your family. THAT is why we scrap! We are telling life’s story to the future!
      I wish you much comfort as you continue to scrap and remember…
      Love,
      Nanci

  11. Lana Visser
    | Reply

    Thank you, Nancy, for your story. My father will be 90 years old this year, and I am working on getting together all the photos of him throughout his life. With your inspiration, I think I will create some special scrapbook pages of him of memories I hold dear to include in his book.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Oh Lana,
      Please do, and please share them with all of us here at Digital Scrapper! Then put those pages into a book to share with your father now and with all of his family in the future. You will be so glad you did! My mother will be celebrating her 98th birthday on Valentine’s Day. For the past 20 years, I make sure I take photos of her with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren so they will always have memories of her to pass on to future generations. I have so many photos of my grand, great grand and great-great grand parents, but I don’t have the stories to go with them…so keep on scrapping and journaling! I wish you the best, Nanci

  12. Patsy A Bolden
    | Reply

    I totally understand her pain and healing process. I didn’t scrap when we buried our daughter at 17 1/2 months old. But I have been scrapping now since 2005 and made a page much later after she passed, Then used scrapbooking this year when my FIL passed unexpectedly. I wished I could share the page here but am not sure how to.

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Patsy, thank you for sharing a bit of your story. ❤️ To share an image in a blogpost, you would need to have your image hosted on a public site, such as Google Photos. Then you would paste the URL of the image into your blog comment.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Dear Patsy,
      I feel so at peace when I know that someone truly understands the pain of putting life back together after losing a child. I hope that you have been able to share your story and your memories with others, because those memories keep our loved one alive in our hearts forever! #always Thank you for sharing and I send you love and strength, Nanci

  13. Deborah
    | Reply

    You are very brave and an inspiration, Nanci. I have not been able to find the courage to tell the story of our family’s loss, but I am one step closer after reading this. Thank you.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Dearest Deborah,
      I am so sorry for your family’s loss. Loss is so terribly hard for everyone. I know you are still looking for the courage to expose your heart; but I encourage you to try; and if I can be of any help or support…just ask! Take it one step at a time…one day at a time. Tell your story to the world…it will help you heal and be thankful for the memories you have. I wish you strength, Nanci

  14. Karen Schulz
    | Reply

    Thank you, Nanci, for sharing your story with us. Not only did scrapbooking help your healing, but also the result of your work is a blessing to your family, both now and in the future. I love that you will be adding another page each year. What a beautiful way to keep your Staci’s memory alive.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Thank you for the beautiful words Karen. I hope everyone that reads this will be encouraged to continue scrapping their own personal memories. I am so very thankful to have learned this skill, and to have been able to use it to share Staci’s story with others. Her life will continue to be celebrated by adding stories to her scrapbook. Much love, Nanci

  15. Joyce Korenuk
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for your loss Nancy. I can’t begin to imagine how painful it must be to lose a child. I lost my husband of almost 31 years 5 weeks ago. I have scrapped a few pages with photos of him. I scrapped the first page of him about 2 weeks after he passed because I was afraid that if I kept putting it off, I might not be able to bring myself to do it. It was hard. I cried while scrapping most of that first page but it was therapeutic too, because the photos of him were of happy and good times. It gets easier with each page that I scrap about him. I plan to eventually create a scrapbook about him for each of our kids.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Dearest Joyce,
      My heart breaks for you, knowing personally the pain and sorrow of losing someone that is a part of your soul. Please keep scrapping those wonderful memories. They will bring you peace and keep the story of your dear husband alive for others. Know you have my thoughts and prayers. Love, Nanci

  16. Marcia
    | Reply

    I scrapped (paper) my mother’s journey through hospice and her military funeral. I found it very helpful. I wish Nanci and her family peace.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Dear Marcia,
      I hope you scrapping your mother’s journey brought you the same peace and healing that scrapping Staci’s journey did to me. Those memories will always be there to honor your mother for you and for future generations. Love and strength to you, Nanci

  17. Meryl Bartho
    | Reply

    Thank you, Nanci, for sharing your story & special memories. I can only imagine the huge gap that is left in all of your lives with the loss of your precious Staci. May God bless you all.

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      It is an honor to share my story and my memories! I could have written pages and pages about the incredible person our Staci was. I am so thankful to Scrapper’s Guide/Digital Scrapper for encouraging this hobby. Little did I know how important it would become for me. I hope it will become just as important to others, both now, and in years to come.

  18. Lori
    | Reply

    What a lovely and important post–thank you for sharing. It is SO important to be encouraged to share ALL our stories–even the hard ones. Wishing Nanci and her family blessings and much love. How wonderful that her scrapbooking has given her a special purpose–helping to relive special memories, preserve Staci’s beautiful legacy, and help to move her along in the grieving process. xoxo

    • Nanci Radford
      | Reply

      Thank you so much for your blessings and love. I can’t stress enough how much scrapbooking has helped with my healing and the healing of the family through our beautiful memories.

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