Have you ever heard of memory bears? They are sweet little, handmade teddy bears made from an item of clothing from a loved one. I was introduced to them in the past 3-4 years by my sweet, sweet Aunt Becky.
Birth of My Memory Bears
My growing menagerie of memory bears was born when, almost 7 years ago, my family experienced the death of my father and the death of his mother exactly 6 months apart. Obviously this was a very sad and difficult time for the entire family.
When my dad passed after a year long battle with brain cancer, my mom and I cleaned out his clothes fairly quickly. We gave special items like his beloved Hawaiian shirts to the men in the family and others took pieces that made them feel close to him as well. I took a chambray button up shirt that rarely left is his body during the last 4-5 months of his life. In fact my mom and I would have to force him to take it off so we could was it. It was a security blanket.
What I didn’t know is that my aunt took one of his fleece pullovers from his last job at First Quality Papers in Williamsport, PA. For Christmas this year my sister and I both received precious memory bears made from that jacket. Even though I knew I was getting the bear at some point, opening the gift I was literally speechless and tears sprung to my eyes. It was a little piece of my dad, gone too soon, held in my hand.
Holding On to Special Clothes
Clothes are such a personal memento. They literally encased our loved ones. Items like memory bears or pillows made from shirts or sweaters are wonderful ways to hold on to a little piece of that person and keep them close to our hears. I recently saw a post on Facebook where someone framed the dress they wore on their first date with their husband. What a beautiful way to honor a special time.
Of course as a home organizing expert, I have to remind you that while keeping 1-2 items of clothing can be a great thing, keeping whole bins of clothing from a loved one is just too much. If the death is too fresh, box things up until you can deal with them or ask a trusted friend to dispose of the clothes. Pass them along to others through donations or gifts to allow your loved ones legacy to live on a little more.
How have you dealt with keeping a loved ones clothing after they have passed? Have you done something special with them?