Monday, February 16, 2009

More Ideas on Making Memory Bears

We have posted before about the popularity of creating a memory object from a loved one’s clothing to offer comfort to a bereaved family. In this video clip from HFA’s 2007 Living With Grief teleconference, a hospice volunteer who makes the bears for bereaved families discusses their significance. In other cases, hospices may help family members to make the bears themselves. Karen Alkema, the bereavement care coordinator at Hospice at Home in Buchanan, MI shared a bit about her hospice’s newest memory bear program:
We have piloted a memory bear project but ours is structured differently. We have the bereaved sew their bear by hand. We used a free, simple pattern from the internet for a small bear and modified the instructions slightly.

We have structured the program to last three weeks meeting each week for 1 ½ hours. The first meeting we cut out the pattern pieces and begin sewing the outside. We show those who have no sewing experience how to do a simple backstitch around the perimeter of the piece, leaving an opening for stuffing the piece. A strength of having three sessions is that those who may sew at a slower pace can catch up during the week prior to the next session. During the second session we stuff the pieces, sew up the holes used to stuff and they begin to attach the pieces to the body. Again, any slower sewers can catch up during the week. At the third session, we decorate the bears. Participants can add eyes, nose and mouth as well as tails, hearts and anything else meaningful. We complete the third session with a closing ceremony.

It was a wonderful program. We have only offered the program to adults but older children could definitely complete the simple sewing of the project. We have volunteers available to provide individual instruction and assist the participants.