Cherishing these physical mementos makes them feel that the deceased is still with them and sometimes that is enough to keep them going. Artist Mary MacInnes just helps make this a little better with her Memory Bears.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on November 11, 2021. It has since been updated.
No one really ever gets over their grief but finds ways to manage it. Losing a loved one creates this hole where grief festers and while it may seem like the end of the world, we somehow manage to pick ourselves up and go on with our lives by growing around the pain. People adopt many habits over the years to cope with this loss. Some others hold on to something that once belonged to their loved ones. Cherishing these physical mementos makes them feel that the deceased is still with them and sometimes that is enough to keep them going. Artist Mary MacInnes makes this possible and a little better with her Memory Bears.
According to Metro, the 21-year-old uses old clothes of her clients' loved ones to create adorable teddy bears that they can hold on to forever. Although the stuffed mementos are primarily made out of the favorite clothes of those who have tragically passed away, they can even be made with jewelry and ashes. The Memory Bears can also be customized with a special pocket in the back where people can store letters and other mementos that remind them of the departed souls. Now, these bears are not toys but they can be presented to children to help them cope with the loss of a parent or someone who holds similar importance in their lives.
MacInnes actually began her sewing career in the bridal industry after studying fashion tech at Heriot Watt University. At just 16, she was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year. The impressive feat was only the beginning of MacInnes' artistic genius. Soon she began making memory bears for a living and revealed that it wasn't really a planned career choice. "I made my first memory bear five years ago as a favor for a friend and was constantly asked to make more, but turned them down because I wanted to concentrate on university and a career in bridal," she shared according to Metro.
"I gave in to requests for bears and once I uploaded photos to my page it just exploded – so at the moment I’m fully committed to making them," explained MacInnes. Every bear takes around 5 to 6 hours to make, including the time it takes to plan the design because every piece is unique. The Memory Bears start at about $64 but vary depending on the customer's specifications and the level of customization. Understandably, creating these bears is physically demanding but it often turns out to be an emotionally draining experience for MacInnes. "It can be emotionally draining some days," she said.
Recalling one such incident, MacInnes said, "Recently I had a 37-year-old man pleading with me to make his two daughters aged 10 & 12 bears before Christmas. He insisted on paying in full and gave me £10 extra asking me to post them to his girls. It turned out he has terminal cancer and won’t see Christmas. I cried the whole time I cut out, sewed, and stuffed those two little bears." That being said, the artist says she is grateful for the opportunity because, "It really is a privilege to be asked to create something from people’s personal possessions."
"I love seeing their faces take on character and I’m absolutely loving life. I really enjoy meeting my customers when they collect bears – 80% burst into tears. I think that’s because garments arrive as sad reminders of the past then it’s almost as if new life is breathed into them. They become something that’s much more acceptable to cuddle and talk to, and the feedback is they definitely can help the grieving process," she noted.
Cover image source: Facebook | Mary Mac