Memory making is an important part of bereavement support. Take a moment to remember someone close to you who has died. A parent, a friend or even a special pet. Chances are they left something precious behind that brings you comfort. It may be a photograph, a letter, or a personal item that was their favorite. This memento links you to the best memories of your loved one and, when you need it most, it brings you strength and peace.
ClayLinks® mold kits give you the power to provide this same, heartfelt connection for the grieving families you serve.
The Art of Memory-Making
A ClayLinks print is a one-of-a-kind impression of a loved one’s hand. It’s a tangible symbol of the love families shared.
Unlike other memorials that are ordered by families and received later, ClayLinks handprints are made before or soon after death occurs so families can immediately receive the comfort they bring. These personalized prints are made by you, the NICU nurse, chaplain, hospice worker or funeral care provider on the frontlines of end-of-life care. Making ClayLinks prints takes your care to another level–improving the services you provide for grieving families and impacting their grief in positive, meaningful ways.
A Five-Step Plan for Using ClayLinks Kits in Your Workplace
The ClayLinks print-making process is a proven system for making quick, permanent handprints in a variety of settings and situations. But, making ClayLinks prints doesn’t just happen. It takes practice, organization, and a bit of training for your entire staff. Use this Five- Step Plan to get your staff ready to make ClayLinks prints.
Step 1 – Find Funding or Determine How to Offset Your Costs
Decide how you will recoup the costs associated with making ClayLinks prints. If funding isn’t readily available, depending on your type of business or organization, you might:
- Reach out to appropriate foundations for donations or look into grants that may fund your memory-making activities.
- Charge a flat rate for each ClayLinks print made. This charge should cover the average costs of supplies and staff time, based on making prints of all sizes with standard decorations.
- Alternatively, you might choose to offer one handprint at no charge and offer additional prints for a standard fee.
- Work the cost of ClayLinks prints into your fees so you can offer one or more complimentary prints to families.
- Include a complimentary ClayLinks print during funeral pre-planning and work the cost into your non-declinable pre-planning fee.
Step 2 – Designate a Coordinator
If your workplace has not already done so, create a Bereavement Care Program and designate a Bereavement Care Coordinator. The Coordinator re-orders ClayLinks supplies and arranges regular trainings for staff members about grief support techniques. He or she also creates regularly scheduled opportunities to practice the ClayLinks print-making process. Since many grieving families want to be involved with the ClayLinks print-making and decorating process, it’s important to feel confident about how to make them.
During practice sessions, use a few of the ClayLinks Kits and accessories you’ve ordered to make prints of your own hands or the hands of friends, children or even pets. It’s also helpful to watch our Instructional Video on the homepage of our website.
Step 3 – Order and Organize
Before you can begin to make ClayLinks prints for families, you’ll need adequate supplies of clay, decorations and other print-making tools. Explore all of our products in our online store or contact us so we can help you find the right products for your program. Once your supplies arrive, store them in a central location so everyone knows where to find them and can easily determine when to re-order. Choose a convenient location that is cool and away from any source of heat. If your work environment requires you to transport ClayLinks and accessories to other locations, consider storing them on a rolling cart.
Step 4 – Memory-Making
The process of making ClayLinks prints is often conducted as a memory-making experience. Memory-making experiences can also be catalysts for healing conversations. In addition to memory-making, the ClayLinks print-making process can serve as a way for:
- hospice nurses and volunteers to explore the legacies their patients wish to leave. Handprints can be made as gifts for grandchildren or other family members, while care providers record the memories or messages they want to convey.
- NICU nurses to help families say good-bye to a child who has died. Print-making supplies can be brought into the room and the parents, siblings, and grandparents can each make a personalized hand or foot print.
- chaplains to engage people in meaningful conversations about dying while, at the same time, making handprints for those they love.
- funeral care staff to deal with sudden, unexpected losses. Families can gather together during visitations to make and decorate prints while they say their private good-byes.
- pre-need funeral planners to help individuals make and decorate prints as part of their advanced funeral care arrangements. Prints can be stored with a client’s paperwork and then displayed at the visitation and memorial service after the individual dies.
- families to retain a clear, detailed imprint of their loved one’s hand. This basic mold can be used later when families wish to order keepsake jewelry or other memorials that require the submission of a clear, detailed imprint.
Step 5 – Introduce the Idea to Families
Items that are links to loved ones who are dying or have died have special meaning for families. They remind those who are grieving that their loving bonds continue even beyond death. Yet, the significance of making a linking object, like a ClayLinks print, can be hard to explain. Practice telling families about ClayLinks prints with an introduction like,
“Part of our bereavement care is helping you find active, meaningful ways to honor the memory of your [father, daughter, etc.] We call this memory-making. One of the memory-making experiences I like to offer families is a print of your [Dad’s, daughter’s, etc.] hand set in clay. I’ll make the print and you and your family can gather together to personalize it in a way that is meaningful for you. Then, you will literally have [her/his] hand to hold on to as you move through the process of saying good-bye.”
It’s important to let families know that there is only a limited amount of time in which it is possible to make a ClayLinks print.
These ideas and many other suggestions about using ClayLinks in your work place can be found at in our Gallery of Ideas. Stay in the know about our latest products and specials, as well as making, baking, and decorating techniques! Follow CaringWisdom on Facebook and LinkedIn or sign up for our eNewsletter.
Until next time,
Chief Growth Officer
World by the Tail, Inc.