As an avid scrapbooker and recorder my family's life story I never thought the day would come that I would be telling the story of a difficult time in our life. My scrapbooks are filled with hundreds of layouts that tell all the happy moments. All that changed on November 19, 2013 when my husband, 43 had a massive stroke.


Over the last four months I've struggled on what to scrapbook about this event and how to journal. I researched online what others wrote and the photos they included and the constant that I kept running into was—it's YOUR story, tell it how YOU want to.


When I scrapbook I always think about my two kids that one day will be the owners of my stories in pictures. I want to bring them back to the happy times so the memories never fade. That thought is so different when you are telling a story that creates heartache. I don't want them to relive the experience but it's part of our story. I want them to see the life lessons we've seen along the way, the progress their dad and our family has made during this difficult time.


While there is no real answer on how to start the story or what to tell, I'm going to give you ideas on what I've done. Just remember, if you are telling a similar story or scrapbooking a difficult time there are no rules and do what makes you feel comfortable.


Typically with my layouts I make the picture the focal point. While the photos will be important with this album, the journaling will be more of the focus. There are some pages that will not have a photo. It will be more of a diary that includes the process of my husband's therapy.


I started the journaling for this album from the very beginning—from the first phone call made by Russ. That was the exact time our lives changed. There wasn't a photo to go with this so I used a photo when the kids were finally able to see their daddy. I keep telling myself there are no rules, this is our story—scrapbook it. 

Below are a few tips I found when doing my research on scrapbooking difficult times. 


  • Get rid of the idea these layouts need to be perfect. Don't over analyze the process, just do it.
  • Journal from your heart. I found this to be the most therapeutic part of scrapbooking this life event. While the writing brought back painful memories I could also see the progress from then to now.
  • Write about the good, bad and the ugly.
  • Separate the time between creating the difficult layouts. This album will not be done like previous albums I've done in the past. I create for these layouts when I'm in the right frame of mind, sitting in a quiet place and I can pour my soul into the writing.  Again, as I write each word, I think about my kids.
  • Remember to take photos during the progression. This is probably the hardest part of creating this album. We are so caught up in the moment of therapy and progressing that I forget to take pictures of the progression. This is a great piece of the album. Take photos.


We all have a story to tell whether it's good or bad. Every story is important and I hope you make the time to share all of them.


-Kimberly Van Diepen, My Digital Studio Design Team

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Tags: Design Team, For The Home, Hello Perfection, Kimberly Van Diepen, Scrapbooking


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Comment by stampwithcynthia on June 20, 2014 at 1:38am

Oh dear Kimberly!  My thoughts and prayers are with you!  God bless you and your family as you go through this together.  Your page is beautifully done and heartfelt.  Sending Healing Wishes your way! XOXO

Comment by Cyndi on May 14, 2014 at 1:30pm

I have followed your journey with Russ on your blog - I SO appreciate your open & honest posts about your world and the crazy path life has chosen for all of you.  Thank you so very much for sharing.

Comment by Cori Kozak on May 12, 2014 at 10:18am

Wow.  It's so difficult to document the bad times even when we have so many good ones.  But you've done it beautifully here.  Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Marti Crapo on May 11, 2014 at 8:14pm


Bless you and your family and Thanks SO MUCH for sharing this with us!

Comment by Holly VanDyne on May 11, 2014 at 6:23am

What a wonderful, beautiful post (and page), Kimberly. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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