KEYC - Memory Bears Honor Lost Loved Ones

Memory Bears Honor Lost Loved Ones

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MANKATO, Minn. -

"It's very special for them to have this and say, 'this is made out of something grandpa wore,'" said Volunteer Joyce Dickerman,
 
On Saturday, more than two dozen hospice families are holding onto their late loved ones in the form of a stuffed bear.
 
"We're having families who lost a deceased loved one in our program come and bring a garment of their loved one. We have volunteers who are helping them create a memory bear," said Mayo Clinic Health System Hospice Bereavement Coordinator Jeanne Atkinson.
 
Atkinson started the program last year to help families cope with their grief. She says she knows the comfort these bears can provide, after receiving one of her own after her sister passed.
 
"It brings back fond memories of my sister and knowing that I have something that was part of her makes me feel good inside. It's good to be able to look at it and appreciate it," said Atkinson.
 
While some of the participants and volunteers are strangers, they all share a profound understanding of grief.
 
"It's very rewarding to come and share this with them. We can share stories and our experience in making them," said Dickerman.
 
Dickerman made memory bears in honor of her late husband.
 
"It's very comforting to make these. I let each of my five children pick their own out and the grandchildren. They love them," said Dickerman.
 
It takes about two to three hours to make each bear, each one personal and one of a kind.
 
"We took little wooden hearts and we ask the participants to write a message to their loved ones and we put it inside," said Atkinson.
 
Allowing the memories of their loved ones to live on.

--KEYC News 12