April Gazalie from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, makes bereavement bears for people who lost their beloved. Some years ago she herself experienced a heavy loss.
She takes old photos, clothes, letters and even locks of hair and sews them into toy bears to save fond memories and comfort people in grieve.
Some years ago April lost her son. She received bereavement bear in his memory from local nonprofit and got an idea to make such bears herself.
The woman transformed his bedroom is her sewing room, but in general it has remained untouched. April says this environment gives her a deep connection to each and every bear she makes.
April made her first bear in memory of her sister’s friend father in 2016.
The bears were in demand so the woman joined Hospice of Warren County as a volunteer. Bereavement bears became a free service offered to Hospice families that had care there.
When a patient passes on, families may give April his or her particular garments and belongings, close to their hearts, so she makes one-of-a-kind bear.
Every bear has its own traits, reminding about the patient and their life. When the bears are complete, April adds a note of condolence to each one and wrap them.
Since the beginning April has comforted more than 400 broken hearts and souls.
“It is tearful, but it is happy tearful. It is something I feel I need to do. It’s just kind that I’m giving back something,” April says.
Featured image: Facebook, WTAE