A Spotlight on Amy Beebe of Sew Bella Keepsake Creations

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I have often been asked about tangible ways to remember and honor loved ones who have died. One way is to have a keepsake or memory item created from your loved one’s clothing. Not only can these items bring comfort but they can become family heirlooms. We are fortunate to have a very special person right here in southern Maryland who creates these beautiful and meaningful keepsakes. I recently interviewed Amy Beebe from Sew Bella Keepsake Creations. Here’s a bit about her story~

What is Sew Bella?

Sew Bella Keepsake Creations is mainly a business for making upcycled and repurposed clothing or baby blankets into stuffed animals, pillows, or quilts. The animals are my most popular request. I started it because a friend asked me to make her a teddy bear from her favorite sleeper that her daughter wore. The next one I made was a dolphin from a baby’s angel gown, as she had passed away in the hospital. The baby’s mother was so incredibly grateful that I wanted to offer the service to others.

How long have you been in business? 

Only a year but I have been sewing for about 15 years. I learned out of necessity when I was in the Navy, as there are no seamstress or tailoring services in the middle of the ocean.

What is most rewarding about what you do?

Most definitely the joy that I hear from my clients when they have received their finished products. I know that I am making a Mommy happy because her baby’s onesies are no longer stuck in a box somewhere or filling someone else’s empty arms. If I can relieve even a sliver of grief from someone makes it completely worthwhile.

Tell me about the most memorable project you’ve worked on.

I am currently working on 6 animals that were made from shirts belonging to my client’s husband who passed away. The animals are for her grandchildren.

What has been the most difficult project you’ve worked on?

I recently specially made 2 animals in memory of a friend’s nano-preemie babies who became angels soon after birth. I filled them with weighted beads to match their birth weights (only 1lb 2oz and 1lb 15oz). While they were not from the baby’s clothes, they are one of a kind. This project has by far been the most difficult as I am a mother myself and I can only imagine the heartbreak that losing a child must be. I can only hope these animals can help fill a little bit of a the void.

What would you like to work on but haven’t been presented with the opportunity yet?

I would love to create a shirt quilt someday! I know how to do it, I just have not had the order come through yet.

What do you want people to know about the work that you do?

I would like people to know that I take the utmost care and consideration when making the animals. I try to utilize all the important pieces and parts to make each one unique and beautiful.

How do you think your memorial items help those who are grieving?

I don’t know for sure but I can only hope that they can help with one’s grief.

Is there anything else that you would like people to know about you?

I am a mom and a veteran, married to a career military man. We are Maryland transplants but love the area! I am also a photographer and a perpetual student. I love to learn new things, especially ones that I can use my hands to create. Also if there is an animal that you don’t see, then I will try to find a pattern.

What’s the best way for people to contact you?
My email is ethanandmom@gmail.com or through my etsy page  www.etsy.com/shop/sewbellakeepsakes

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I Don’t Want to be Here Anymore

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“I don’t feel like I can go on living”

“I just can’t face another day”

“The pain is too much, I just don’t want to be here anymore”

It is very common for people experiencing deep grief to have these thoughts. These are not suicidal thoughts but the expression of pain that feels unbearable and escaping the reality of the pain and loss is the only thing that seems like it could bring relief. In my experience, many grieving people have felt this way but they don’t want to tell anyone so they suffer with these thoughts sometimes even imagining just vanishing, being diagnosed with an incurable disease or not waking up the next day. These secret thoughts are compounded by guilt and shame due to the fact that they don’t want to upset anyone by speaking it aloud. If you have never felt the weight of overwhelming loss you may not understand what someone means by “not wanting to be here anymore,” this can be terribly frightening to hear and many times it can be misinterpreted to mean that someone is suicidal (that being said, if a person is threatening to harm themselves or has a plan to do so, please call 911 and seek immediate help). So what do you do if someone tells you that they just can’t go on living? It’s simple….LISTEN. Just be present with them in their pain, listen to them, don’t try to fix it. Especially with new grief, the heaviness and depth of the loss may feel like too much to carry. I recall a friend’s little 5 year old boy who kept telling her that he wanted to go to heaven to be with his aunt who had died. My friend was terrified that something was wrong with her young son and that maybe he was suicidal (which would be very rare for someone so young). After asking him some questions and really listening to him she realized that he was just so very sad that his favorite aunt had died and that the depth of love that he had for her made him want to be with her. After all, isn’t grief our expression of the love we have for someone? It makes sense for some people to want to be with their loved one who is not here  physically.

If you are experiencing a loss, I can help. I can be reached at 240-298-2442 or melinda@melindaruppert.com

 

Angel Wings

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This will be the the sixth Christmas without our son. We have ways to symbolize and remember Brogan such as the angel wings that hang on our tree year after year but if you’ve ever lost a loved one you know that the holidays can magnify their absence. It’s not like we think of them any less on ordinary non-holiday days but the holiday season is a time for family, togetherness and reflection and because of that focus it just feels more difficult. Something that may be helpful is to think of those things that your loved one enjoyed about the holidays and incorporate them into your traditions. If they had a favorite movie, watch it in their honor. If they liked to drive around and look at Christmas lights, continue that tradition and maybe even visit the cemetery for a time of reflection afterward. If they had a favorite holiday cookie, bake them (and eat them!) in their honor. Consider donating a gift in their memory to someone in need. One of the biggest fears that many grieving people have is worrying that their loved one will be forgotten. It is possible to include your loved one in your holiday traditions and carry on their legacy and memory. Is it painful? Yes, but it can also be meaningful and purposeful. How will you remember your loved one this holiday season?

Before and After

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Typically we think of “before and after” in terms of weight loss results, a new haircut or a home makeover. These are usually fun and exciting and it’s interesting to see such transformations. The “before and after” that I am referring to is the person we were before the death of our loved one and the person we are now, after the loss. This type of transformation is often not one that we asked for, it can feel like it was thrust upon us without an invitation. Honestly, it is another type of loss, the loss of our familiar selves. Death changes us and navigating who we have become can be challenging. I will say that sometimes we are changed in positive ways as our perspective and outlook on life changes as well. Sometimes we may find a new purpose in life as we put back together those pieces of ourselves that have been shattered by the death of a loved one but sometimes there may be certain aspects of our personality that are unfamiliar to not only those closest to us but to ourselves. If we were once bubbly and outgoing we may now be reserved and quiet. If we were always the “go to” person for planning social events or hosting family dinners we may now prefer to stay home. It’s confusing. Acknowledging that you may not be the person you were before the death and letting people know what you need is very important and helpful to let those around you know how to be supportive.

If you need grief and loss support I offer individual counseling and support groups. I can reached at 240-298-2442 or melinda@melindaruppert.com

Really IHOP!?

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Well, it has happened. Yup, I just saw the first holiday commercial of the season and it wasn’t for toys or jewelry or cars (I still don’t get that one), it was for of all things-PANCAKES! Not just plain boring pancakes but fun, holiday flavors…..geesh!

For those of us grieving, it can be an unwelcome sight to be assaulted by holiday commercials this soon. I understand that for others it is exciting to start thinking about the 2017 holiday season-the twinkly lights, holiday music, gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa. The one thing that both sets of people have in common is anticipation. Anticipation in regard to those who are grieving means that they are dreading facing the tough holiday season ahead. This signifies yet another special time of the year without their precious loved one. Oftentimes the anticipation is worse than the actual day or event. It can feel much like being on a roller coaster and sitting at the peak of a huge hill-you’re grasping the safety bar with both hands, your stomach is a little queasy and you’re waiting to take the plunge downward. There’s so much “build up” to the holidays especially and sometimes it feels like we have no way to protect ourselves emotionally during this time of the year. Although it is a very meaningful time for many of us, it brings with it intense memories of years past and this magnifies the fact that our loved one is no longer physically here.

Be gentle with yourself during this difficult time and most importantly let others know what you need. Those who are experiencing the unpredictability of grief are looking at the world through a different filter especially during the holiday season. If you or someone you know is in need of grief and loss counseling, I can help. I can be reached at 240-298-2442 or melinda@melindaruppert.com