Making Lasting Memories with Regali Jewelry Memorial Fingerprint Charms

 

Regali

Spotlight on Regali Jewelry Memorial Fingerprint Charms

Losing a child has to be the most painful event of a parent’s life. Those caregivers who guide families through this horrific time have a whole host of bereavement items at their disposal. One of the newest, most unique items that they can offer is memorial fingerprint charms from Regali Jewelry. Hospitals love that they can give these to their families: “We have received numerous responses from families about how much these charms mean to them.”

A child’s finger, toe, or in the case of very premature babies, foot or hand, is pressed into silver clay. Once the clay dries, it’s fired and polished and personalized with initials. An accent crystal is added and the charm is boxed and finished with a bow.

Regali was started by Anne Moriarty as a direct sales company, making fingerprint charm necklaces and bracelets sold at home parties. Then a large children’s hospital inquired about memorial fingerprint charms, with the aim of offering charms to the families of all children who die at their hospital. The memorial fingerprint charm program was born.

Today Regali works in partnership with nearly 100 hospitals and hospices across the US and Canada, creating one-of-a-kind charms. They’re made in NICUs, PICUs, hem/onc, trauma, and in palliative care, for children who have lost parents. Anne makes a mold of each charm, so families can order additional charms at a later date.

Regali’s memorial charms have helped families through the grieving process. One mom wrote, “My little footprints are such a gift to me. I wear them each day and often hold them between my fingers when thinking about my sweet children.” The charms give family members a way to touch their loved one.

Regali provides partner organizations with a supply of imprint kits, so they’re prepared when they need one. They take the imprint (often with the help of family members) then send the kit to Anne. She makes the charms within a few days of receipt and sends them back to the hospital or directly to the family. As supplies are used, she replenishes the organizations. In the words of a Child Life Specialist at one partner hospital, “I cannot begin to tell you how valuable these charms are to parents and children who have a family member die.”

Anne offers interested organizations a free charm, so they can see the process from start to finish. Contact her on 703-473-0967 or Anne.Moriarty@RegaliJewelry.com to learn more about how you can offer these unique keepsakes to your patients’ families. Be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter.

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Death may be stupid, but kids aren’t.

Guest Post: Deb Vilas from PediaPlay

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This week, Shani Thornton (aka Child Life Mommy) and I brought Child Life services beyond hospital walls into our community. Via a referral from Jen Holohan, CCLS, a parent invited Shani to do some bereavement work at a girls and boys club.  A staff member and former member of the club had recently died unexpectedly, and the kids and staff  needed support. Shani reached out to me and asked if I would join her. How could I say no?

We armed ourselves with Anastasia Higginbotham’s book Death is Stupid, 3 rolls of toilet paper and Shani’s years of experience volunteering with bereaved children at Center for HOPE. Our plan of action included a read aloud, followed by a group mural where  the school-aged children could express any of their many feelings about their beloved mentor’s death. The club supplied a huge roll of white butcher paper, paint, crayons, markers, glue, yarn, glitter, pompons, and googly eyes. The kids supplied their hearts.

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In addition to the mural, we set up a toilet paper target station in a corner away from the art activity.  Kids could draw what was making them sad, angry or afraid, and then wail away at the target with sopping wads of water-logged toilet paper.

What did we discover? Well, first, the children joined us in a circle of chairs for the reading of the book. Some teared up while others got silly. We staid our course and refrained from redirecting any of it. We were surprised when almost all of them raised their hands when asked if they knew others who had died. Many relatives and pets had already paved the way for this loss.

Then we set them loose on the mural. They dug deep quickly, drawing and writing about their feelings and memories about the young man who had died at the tender age of 21. They told us stories of things they had done with him, what he enjoyed, how he had helped them with their homework. They talked openly about feeling sad and angry. One tween drew a heart, wrote “Death is Stupid” in the middle of the heart, and then crossed out ‘Stupid’ and added the words scary, mean, weird, confusing and heartbreaking.

Those who weren’t quite ready to join in the mural found solace in the target game, something that allowed for a more physical, visceral release of emotions. “I hate death” they wrote on the target. “Come Back!” One child drew a picture of himself crying, and then decided to cut the drawing off of the target, so that it would not be ruined by the wet toilet paper. Their bodies danced in anticipation as they lined up to take their turns spooling toilet paper around their fists. The toilet paper flew, splatting with satisfying force again and again, as emotion propelled major league-worthy arms.

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When the smoke cleared, every child had contributed to both the mural and the target practice. We regathered in the circle, where Shani reminded them who they can speak to about their feelings as time goes on. The kids named their parents, counsellors, teachers and one another. We held hands and shouted their friend’s name as a final ritual.

Kids know what they need. When adults provide them with space, time, materials and a listening ear, kids know exactly what to do. They need to talk about the person they lost. They need to know that the adults in their lives can hear them without turning away or handing out platitudes. They need to know that they are normal, that their thoughts and feelings aren’t bad or wrong. And they need to know that the feelings will come and go, and that it’s okay to play and have fun anyway, even amidst the sadness.

After the room had emptied, as we scraped wet toilet paper off the cinder block walls, Shani said, “Isn’t this exactly where child life belongs?!”

Yes, my dear friend. This is exactly where it belongs, in the community where the children live day in and day out, and where death is stupid, scary, mean, weird, confusing and heartbreaking.

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Helping Kids Cope with Loss: Spotlight and Giveaway on Fred and Red Say Goodbye

Child life specialists help kids and families cope with life’s challenges. Often times people think that we “just play all day” and not realize the therapeutic value to our work. They may see us in a playroom, blowing bubbles during a medical exam or bringing toys to a child’s room. We are there to provide normalcy, preparation, support and give kids the opportunity to have a voice and express themselves through a variety of modalities.

We are also there during the heavier times of loss and grief. We use legacy building interventions during the end of life stages, help families find the words to talk about death/dying to their children and provide bereavement support after a loss.

Today, I am excited to share a spotlight on a child life colleague, Austin Schlichtman. He took his child life skills one step further and wrote a children’s book about loss, entitled, Fred and Red Say Goodbye.

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The Inspiration:

Long before Fred & Red Say Goodbye, I created the characters to help build rapport with patients. Some specialists have a really funny joke or story. I had Fred & Red. A former patient named the penguin “Fred” after a Social Worker when she couldn’t think of another name. The balloon was much easier to name for her.

Throughout the years working with patients and families I would draw Fred & Red as a greeting on their whiteboards or sliding glass doors as my “Hello”. From time to time patients would add to Fred & Red, by giving them a home or friends, and almost always Fred & Red stuck around through their inpatient treatment.  This became abundantly apparent to me one day as I was wrapping up a legacy building activity with a patient. As I left the patient’s room for the last time, molds in hand, there was Fred & Red still drawn on the patient’s sliding glass door. It was at the moment I realized eventually even Fred & Red have to say “Goodbye”.  

Soon after I began creating “Fred & Red Say Goodbye” as a story to help patients and family grieve. I knew from my experiences that no loss is ever the same and often one loss is felt differently by each individual. For that reason I wanted to create a story that is easy to relate to and simple enough for children to understand.  “Fred & Red Say Goodbye” is a touching story about the emotions associated with the loss of a loved one. The story follows Fred as he begins to process the news his beloved Red is sick and unable to be cured.

Be sure to check out Fredandredstory.com and get your copy on Amazon today.

About the Author:

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Austin Schlichtman has been a Child Life Specialist in the Pacific Northwest for over 5 years. He has spent the majority of his professional career working with the Adolescent Young Adult cancer population. In his free time Austin enjoys creating art, exploring nature while attempting to keep up with his Australia Shepherd, and drinking lots of coffee.

 

Fred and Red Giveaway

Win a copy of Fred and Red Say Goodbye

Choose one or more ways to enter:
1. Sign up for email notifications at ChildLifeMommy.com and leave a comment on this post.
2. Facebook: Follow Child Life Mommy, leave a comment and tag a friend on the post.
3. Twitter: Follow, Like and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy
4. Instagram: Follow @ChildLifeMommy and @Aschlichtman,Like and Tag a friend in the post.
Good Luck, winner will be chosen 1/23/16

Fred and Red winner