TORONTO, ON (February 15, 2010) – High school math teacher and widow Shira Hart worked with Creative Memories consultant Ruth Brickman to create a memory album for her husband Laurence. Through that process, she uncovered new memories, worked through her grief and celebrated her family’s history.
In 2007, high school math teacher Shira Hart was mourning the loss of her husband, Laurence. She was going through a lot and found it difficult to take the steps to move on. The boxes of photos in the basement particularly bothered her. Not just because they cluttered her space, but because she knew that they were full of still-life tributes to Laurence and their life together.
Laurence was an avid and talented amateur photographer, and loved taking photos of their family and their activities together. Right now there were only a few photos on display in her house, mostly recent ones. She knew that if she could find her way to sort through those photos, she would not only have a memorial to Laurence, she would have a priceless family chronicle.
Each time she thought about taking on the monumental task, she felt overwhelmed and could not get started. She didn’t know how she would begin to decide which photos to use, or how to put them together.
At a family Purim carnival at Temple Har Zion, Shira volunteered and wound up chatting with another volunteer, Ruth Brickman. She knew of Ruth—Ruth’s parents are also very involved in Temple life—but they had never met. When the conversation turned to Ruth’s home-based business as a Creative Memories scrapbooking consultant, Shira’s ears perked up.
“I could never have completed this album in memory of my husband without Ruth’s help,” says Hart, “Ruth was able to spend the time actually going through the old albums with me, sitting with me and physically going through the boxes. I couldn’t do that myself because it was too emotional. Every picture conjured up a story.”
Ruth, a social worker by profession, recognized the significance of the process, “It’s crucial for people who are grieving to have the opportunity to tell their stories.”
Aside from her compassion, Shira valued Ruth’s artistic flair and teaching skills, “She suggested ways to sort the photos—we started with the time when Laurence and I first married—and when it was time, she gently encouraged me to start the first page of the album, even though we weren’t finished sorting yet.”
Eventually, Shira took over and was able to complete the project independently. She actually ended up with two family albums. “Making these albums was incredibly therapeutic. I had no idea how much it would do for me. Because I was absorbed in doing something concrete, I could feel the memories but not be overwhelmed by them. And I rediscovered some positive memories—events that I’d completely forgotten about. What a gift—thank you, Ruth!”