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Art Therapy Helps Family Create Memories

I received a referral from one of our Northern Kentucky teams requesting support for a family who wanted to create a memory project. The team suggested that the patient was declining rapidly and that a visit “sooner rather than later” would be helpful. I had a phone conversation with the patient’s daughter who had an idea for a memory pillow for the patient’s great grandson. We made a plan for a visit, despite her observation that the patient was no longer able to engage in the project.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by the patient’s wife and daughters. They shared stories about the patient, who was resting peacefully in a hospital bed in the living room. He was a veteran, who had received his draft notice the day before his wedding. After only three weeks with his bride, he was called away for active duty. When he returned, they started a family, raising two daughters and enjoying three granddaughters. He had survived several additional health crises but was delighted when his first great grandchild was a boy!

The family had traced the hands of the great grandson and located a picture of the two great buddies. They found the shirt that the patient was wearing in the photograph and asked that we use the fabric to make a memory pillow. We worked together to gently trace the patient’s hand so that both hands could be sewn onto the pillow. As we worked, the family shared memories. The wife observed that she and the patient had loved to hold hands. We decided to take some photos of their hands together. She slipped into another room and lotioned her hands, putting on a beautiful ring that he had given her. We took several photos of their hands intertwined.

As I left, I thanked the family for allowing me to share this time with them, and promised to stay in touch about progress on our project. Our BCN team went into action to locate an appropriate volunteer to do the sewing. The patient died within 48 hours of my visit, but our connection to this family will last much longer. I am grateful for the team who listened to this family’s hope and to the collaboration of so many BCN team members to bring it to fruition.

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