Losing a loved one can be challenging, especially for young children, so finding creative ways to comfort them is essential. But of course, everyone has a different way of dealing with grief, especially children. This is why grownups can look for creative things like “memory bears” to help accompany them through troubling times.
Find out how a recently deceased grandpa’s old flannels were turned into memory bears for his widow and six grandchildren.
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What are memory bears?
If you’ve never heard of memory bears, it’s okay since it’s rare, but it should be practiced more often. Memory bears are teddy bears made from materials from a recently diseased individual. It’s a way of preserving their items while giving them a new use for others, especially children, in the form of a teddy bear.
These items often consist of clothes and trinkets that could be sown together on a bear.
How grandpa’s flannels were transformed into memory bears
The story follows one of the experiences of Partice Travis, a volunteer seamstress at Boston’s AccentCare Hospice. She came across a situation that, although difficult, became very rewarding in the end. This was when she approached Mary, the widow of Thomas Lennon, who was a patient at the AccentCare Hospice before his death in August 2022 due to Parkinson’s disease-related complications. Travis asked Mary if she wanted a memory bear; she requested six.
The six memory bears would be given to each of Thomas’ grandchildren for Christmas. Patrice Travis had to work with Thomas’ things, mainly his flannel, to accomplish the memory bears.
She ensured that each memory bear would be mostly made out of Grandpa’s flannels, but she also added other things that belonged to Thomas to make the memory bears more personal. Aside from just sewing the bears together, Travis had to learn more about Thomas to ensure that the memory bears would remind the kids of him.
One thing that she did was to make the bear had his matching eyes. She did this by adding eyes that had the same eye color and glasses to match. This way, the memory bear looked like Grandpa when he was wearing glasses.
Travis also learned that Grandpa loved to say “peace” when exiting a place. Because of that, she decided to add a “peace” logo on the memory bear’s paw. This wasn’t the only sign of Grandpa as he also loved to play guitar. Because of that, Travis decided to sew in Grandpa’s used guitar picks in a special pocket for each memory bear.
Mary got a memory bear as well
After Travis finished the six memory bears for all Thomas’ grandchildren, there was still enough flannel material left for one special bear for Mary. Unfortunately, while Mary was approached with the idea of making memory bears to remember Thomas, she didn’t ask for one for herself. Luckily, Travis was able to squeeze in one more.
Mary came to check in on the bears two days before Christmas and was happy to hear that not only were the six bears completed, but that there was also one more bear specifically for her. Mary said the kids called the bears “Grandpy” and would take them everywhere. Mary also talks about what she’d do with her bear, like taking off his glasses before sleeping or putting them on when she wakes up.
The importance of memory bears
Memory bears allowed Mary to deal with grief and embody what she felt, that Thomas was still with her. These things can be part of the moving-on process for some people.
Each person deals with grief differently, and while some can immediately drop their connection with the recently deceased, others need a way to ease into reality. It’s also important to note that the memory bears were created by Travis, a volunteer who made the bears out of the goodness of her heart.