A behind the scenes look at the creation of memory bears and their lasting importance for families within the Paradigm Health community.
For many families, a keepsake offers a deep personal and emotional connection to a lost loved one. As a gift from Paradigm Health, families may request a memory bear be made to serve as a comforting keepsake and a lasting physical remembrance of a loved one. Memory bears are stuffed bears made from a loved one’s favoriteclothing items, such as a shirt, nightgown, sports jersey, tie, or skirt. Since 2019, three volunteers—Anne Halpin, Connie Hirschy and Darlene Laycoax—have dedicated time each month to sewing and creating these special memory bears for Paradigm Health families.
“We have a really good time visiting and making the memory bears,” says Laycoax. “Connie is a good friend of mine and Anne is my dear aunt. When the three of us get together, we are glad to know we are helping someone at the same time.”
Making memory bears is no easy task. Each one takes approximately eight hours to make. Upon requesting a memory bear, families provide Paradigm Health with three clothing articles belonging to their loved one. Then, these supplies are sent to the three women to begin the bear-making process. Hirschy organizes the kits, cuts out the sewing patterns, and completes the interfacing. Then, Hirschy, Halpin, and Laycoax all sew and stuff the bears. Finally, the memory bear is finished with a ribbon tied around its neck and sent back to the families.
“Between the three of us, we have made over 200 memory bears since volunteering at Paradigm Health,” says Hirschy. “We have really enjoyed making the bears and Paradigm Health has always been very caring. The fact they offer this service shows they really do care about patients and their families.”
Memory bears are one of many ways Paradigm Health provides comfort to families within the hospice community. These memory bears can be helpful as they often serve as a lasting physical reminder of the good times spent with their loved one.
“The memory bears provide a source of comfort to families,” says Halpin. “It is nice Paradigm Health cares enough to give this gift to those who want it. It makes me glad that people find comfort in the memory bears we make, and we are happy to do our part to provide them.”
If you would like to create one of these special family memories, collect three articles of clothing per bear you would like to use. Then, contact one of our Paradigm Health team caregivers or reach out to us at our office at 317-735-6001. If you enjoy sewing and would like to volunteer your time making memory bears for families in need, please contact Rockea Bell by email.