Hospice bear

Hospice bear made by the Fiber Arts Guild from a favorite western shirt.

Members of Socorro’s Fiber Arts Guild and the Hospice Program of Presbyterian General Hospital are collaborating on a project that is geared toward helping families get through the grieving process after a loved one has passed away.

The fiber artists are creating handmade personalized teddy bears made from fabric once worn by the departed father, mother or any other member of the family.

“This is coordinated through the Presbyterian hospice nurse,” finer artist Debi Card said. "After a patient has passed, they bring articles of their clothing. We use the clothing to make a bear they can take back to the family to help them with the grieving process."

A bear-making workshop was held last Friday at Presbyterian’s Community Based Programs building, where guild members were busy measuring, cutting and sewing various articles of clothing. Put all together with a good measure of batting, and the bear is ready to present to the family.

On hand at the workshop besides Debi Card were Nancy Dotson, Teri Leaverton, Norma Lorang, Sara Perry, Heidi Wacker, Jericho Walton and Deane Woodard.

“The hospice nurse presented the idea of the bears, and that's what created this kind of rush,” Card said. “We’ve got different members making the bears, and this is the first time we’ve had a workshop to do several all at once. Deane Woodard is the leader of the workshop. She’s the one who’s made the most bears actually, so she’s sharing her experience.”

The Fiber Arts Guild is also known for making hospice quilts out of clothing, and now the bears are giving people a choice.

“We try to make them out of any article of clothing that’s usable,” Norma Lorang said. "T-shirts are difficult because the cloth is stretchy. Today, I’m using the patient’s western shirt for their bear. The snaps were cut off, but the bear is still wearing the western shirt.”

Hospice Bear workshop

Debi Card does some stitching for a new bear.

Hospice nurse Ida Fameree initially brought the idea to the Guild.

“Ida showed us her father’s bear, made out of his favorite shirt,” Lorang said. “She has treasured it. It’s a nice reminder of him. To pick it up and hug it … it helps people.”

Fameree came to Socorro from Wisconsin.

“It was when I was a hospice nurse in Wisconsin, and my dad passed away," Fameree said. “They were making the bears there. It all started when there was a little boy, six-years-old, one of my patient’s sons, and they made him a bear. They made it out of one of his dad’s favorite shirts. It made him so happy.”

The idea caught on, and soon adults wanted one, too.

“It’s a very personal thing,” Fameree said. “My sister and I were both hospice nurses, and so our volunteer ladies made my sisters and me a bear from dad's shirts after he died."

Any hospice patient can have a bear made.

“Families would bring in a personal item. Sometimes they would want a pillow or a heart for the patient, but everybody really liked the bear,” she said. “I have four right now that I’m going to deliver.”

She presented the first bear at the Hospice Memorial in December, where the idea was well received.

“I had my dad’s bear there, and many of my patients thought that was a pretty good idea,” Fameree said. “So they brought us shirts, and the ladies have made them into bears. I am going to be delivering them to one of my patient’s families. To help through the grieving process is the main purpose.”