Guest blog by, Amy Ebert, an amazing former staff member at CaringWisdom:
Four women sit around a table at a restaurant. They are all new acquaintances. So, the conversation quickly turns to questions to help find common ground between them.
“What do you do?” Was the question that quickly went around the table. Then it was my turn.
“I work for a small company that sells pre-measured clay patties. We have two product lines. Our human healthcare product line is called CaringWisdom®. The clay patties are used by bereavement care professionals to create memorial keepsake hand or footprints for families who have experienced a loss.” I said. I braced myself for frowning faces and hands clasped over hearts. (The reaction I had come to expect whenever I explained my day job.) From this assemblage, I received head nods and instant understanding.
“Oh my, what a wonderful idea for a keepsake memento!” Commented Donna.
“Wow! That must be such rewarding work knowing you are helping people at such a difficult time.” Added Susan.
Then came the response that always surprised me.
“I lost a child,” said Janet. “A daughter. She would be 26 years old this year. There are a few things of remembrance I have in a box. But, nothing as personal as one of your handprints keepsakes would be. I wish they had something like that when this happened to me.”
Donna and Susan comforted Janet while I let her response wash over me. It should not have been a surprise that one of us there had an experience losing an infant. Yet, here it was again surprising me. And it was more proof to me how very important our efforts are to get ClayLinks® Kits into the hands of healthcare professionals working in bereavement support.
Providing a Keepsake That’s a Linking Object
Many hospitals systems have placed priority on having plans in place and a team of trained staff available to handle bereavement cases when they arise. Many hospitals also have groups of volunteers making blankets or booties or hats for the babies in the NICU or the Labor & Delivery unit. These are very compassionate sentiments and the volunteers who are creating these keepsakes are doing their work out of the goodness of their hearts.
Janet mentioned having received these kinds of items that she kept in her daughter’s memory box. But, the missing keepsake for families who experience the loss of an infant is often a personalized memento actually touched by their baby. A keepsake memento that by that simple touch holds the bonds and connection—a “linking” object—between a parent, an entire family, and the family member they have lost. ClayLinks® Kits are not just another keepsake product. Instead, they are a compassionate tool with the power to make a meaningful impact on grief.
A Keepsake Can Help Keep Love Alive
Before I worked for CaringWisdom® I had not given much thought, if any, to the plight of families who lose a premature baby and experience that pain. Not because I lack compassion, but because I simply had not experienced that narrative in my own life. As part of my training for CaringWisdom® I attended many conferences and other bereavement trainings. At these events, there were often featured panel discussions with brave parents who were willing to share their stories and their grief. They also often shared their ongoing plans to make sure other families experiences with loss were met with support and understanding. The one aspect of losing a child that I was consistently surprised by was how much grieving parents are not striving to make the pain of their experience disappear.
Jane’s revelation of her loss was another experience where I saw the truth of this. Rather, these parents are trying to create a new reality where they can live and move on beyond their loss but in a world where the child they lost is very much honored and present. Birthdays are remembered and celebrated. Friends and family members talk about the baby by name as just another family member — as much a part of the family as anyone else. This is a world where the power of a ClayLinks® keepsake memento can do its best work.
A Quality Keepsake Matters
When it comes to providing the families you care for with a quality keepsake memento, knowing without a doubt you and your team are providing a gift to last forever should be tops on your list. A forever keepsake memento reflects highly on you, your entire staff and your hospital facility. Hand and footprints created using air dry clay simply do not stand the test of time. Air dry clay never stops curing. The hand or footprint you create shrinks, on average, 5-15% during the initial drying process. The clay continues to get more brittle over time often leading to curing and cracking with little chance of repair. Another keepsake alternative, plaster molds, are difficult to make, fragile, and need to be protected from being touched for fear of breaking them.
Only ClayLinks® Clay is created on the premise that it is supposed to be held, touched and felt by family members. Once our clay is cured, it is permanent. It does not continue to change. The keepsake will not shrink, crack or curl. Our clay, once baked, is shatterproof. They can be kept out on display or eventually moved to a keepsake memory box. Either way, a ClayLinks® print will always be there ready to be held in the hands of family members to provide comfort and connection to the precious baby they have lost forever.
Thanks, Amy, for sharing this blog with us before you moved on to new opportunities! Your words are still as true today as the day you wrote them.
Until next time,
Chief Growth Officer
World by the Tail, Inc.