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Woman Makes Teddy Bear Keepsakes With Loved One's Clothes And Ashes

Jo Parr/Abigail Ayres

Although it's often difficult to discuss, dying is an inevitable part of life.

Sometimes our loved ones are taken too soon, leaving us with the burden to cope. But even though dealing with grief can be a painful process, one woman has taken the initiative to help people as they mourn.

Elisabeth Barker is transforming clothes of individual's family members into stuffed animals, and some people are asking for their beloved family member's ashes be placed inside there as well.

The mother-of-four from Bridgend, Wales has helped several children sleep peacefully once again, including 11-year-old Bethan Parr.

According to her mother, Jo, doctors discovered that Bethan's father, Chris, was diagnosed with rare neuroendocrine tumors, and passed away only four weeks later.

She said Elisabeth’s handiwork has helped her 11-year-old daughter Bethan sleep through the night for the first time in nearly three months since losing her father to cancer.

"It was all so sudden. It was four weeks to the day from him going to hospital to when he passed away. We found out he had a rare form of cancer we had never heard of," Jo told WalesOnline.

"We didn’t want to get rid of his clothes so we wanted to find a way of keeping it," adding that Bethan often sprays her father's old aftershave on her newest teddy bear.

"The first night she got it she fell asleep with her head on the cushion and touching the pillow," she continued. "It was just so nice to see she was comforted at last. She said it was like [clutching] daddy."

"The first time I saw it I cried because of how amazing it was," Bethan added. "We chose the shirt daddy used to wear all the time to go down to the caravan and the one he used to wear at Christmas."

When Abigail Ayres's brother, Scott, passed away from a motorcycle accident when he was 19, she knew she wanted to have a memento to preserve his memory forever.

She had three teddy bears made from his clothes, with one being kept for her future child.

"My brother was an upbeat and positive 19-year-old who pushed himself to achieve," Abigail said.

"He had a passion for motorbikes which sadly took his life too soon. We were best friends, and grew as we became older," she added.

"I kept almost everything of my brother’s as it was me and him against the world. We didn’t have the family support except grandparents that most people may be fortunate for," Abigail explained.

"Many people say [it's] unhealthy to keep everything including clothes but it reminds me that he once was here and real," she said.

"I will display these bears for the rest of my life. They are invaluable in memories and a healthy way to embrace them," she continued.

At 37 years old, Elisabeth has dealt with her fair share of loss too. She was only 11 when her sister passed away, and her beloved grandmother only died earlier this year.

"I was only 11 years old when my sister died, she died in an accident, so perhaps the fact that I understand grief and loss helps. You just want to do anything to make it easier to deal with," Elisabeth said.

"I don’t ask how a person has passed away but most of the time people will send me a picture of them," she shared.

"I have been asked to put ashes in bears and cushions. A lot of people don’t like the thought of the ashes but as long as they are in a suitable container already it’s fine. Once a lady took out nine little bottles and they were sat on my desk," she continued. "I just want to help people."

Although Elisabeth was taught how to sew in school, she only made a career of her talent after she was sent clothes from her sister from her newborn son.

“When my son was born my sister lives in America and would send over really cool clothes that are a bit more interesting than the ones we have here. When he grew out of them I didn’t want to part with them as they were special so I started making them into teddy bears," she said.

"I posted a few on Facebook and my family and friends wanted some and it went from there," she added. "Now I will look at an outfit while someone is wearing it and I’ll think 'I could do that with the collar or I could do that with the pocket.'"

Now Elisabeth receives orders on the daily by customers looking to have sentimal pieces of clothing turned into her stuffed animals.

"One lady asked me to make a bear out of her husband’s fleece Regatta jersey and I kept the pocket intact so she could write letters and put them in there," Elisabeth said.

"One boy was having trouble in school since his grandfather died and apparently this bear stopped that," she said.

"Some evenings I will work on them until about 10 pm but I don’t like leaving things unfinished and I get excited to show the customer," she concluded.

What do you think about Elisabeth's stuffed animals and cushions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

[H/T: WalesOnline]

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