Bear Hug


I received a unique gift this week. A friend of mine is gifted with the ability to sew and make unique creations. One of the ways that she blesses people is to take shirts or blankets belonging to someone special and for a minimal fee form a stuffed bear, providing a way to remember a loved one. I do not believe she has a name for this ministry of hers, but I think Bear Hug is an appropriate one.

Taking a shirt that had been Alan’s, she made this cute little guy for me. I found the shirt sitting in a box in the bottom of the closet. A couple of years ago I had given away most of Alan’s clothes. I am so glad that I was able to dig around and still find something that he had worn. While the shirt itself did me little good sitting in a box as a “keepsake,” this special Bear Hug can now give me more. As it sits on my bed, I gain comfort visually, feeling a connection to my loved one. The pleasure of squeezing and holding my Bear Hug provides a physical touch that is missing in my life these days too.

As I reflect upon what it took for me to receive my Bear Hug – giving up a treasured shirt – I realize that much of the grief journey is also a give and take. Since life is no longer the same as it once was, it is necessary to be willing to change and adapt along the way.

Some days that means hanging on for dear life to memories of the familiar. Other days it means releasing what you have known and clung to in order to receive something better. There is not always logic in how grieving people view possessions. At times they seem to be the only connection left to your loved one. That is when you must realize your memories are really the treasures. The time you spent with your loved one cannot be lost nor taken away. While there is nothing wrong with holding onto a few keepsakes, there are times those items might have a better use.

For example, living in the Denver, Colorado area, our winters get pretty cold. My new Bear Hug helped me have the courage to dig through a final sack in the closet. I decided that giving away a couple of coats for the homeless to use this winter served a better and bigger purpose. The fear of forgetting and allowing memories to grow dim is connected with letting go of the last personal items I had stored. Yet, I realized that no one can take away the memories I hold in my heart.

So I spent some time burying my face in his coats, breathing in the scent that still lingered. Then I carefully searched the pockets again making sure they were empty, lovingly refolded the garments, and placed them in a clean, labeled bag, getting them ready for pick up yesterday.

As you make progress in your journey of grief, I pray you will find comfort and satisfaction in blessing people as you continue learning to release and give away to help others. If you are interested in a Bear Hug of your own, you can comment on this blog or email me at for more information.

Until next time –



Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.