Spanish Fork woman makes ‘Memory Bears’ out of clothing items for those who have lost loved ones

When a loved one passes away, what we’re left with is memories and reminders of the time spent with them during their lifetime. One Spanish Fork woman is taking those reminders and turning them into tangible items you can hold onto and care for in memory of your loved one lost.

Michaun Torgersen makes what are called Memory Bears out of clothing items left behind by loved ones gone too soon. She said that she knows firsthand what it’s like to want to hold something to remember a loved one by. 

“I lost a brother-in-law this last August, and I have shirts that he wore and I turn them into bears,” she said. “In May of 2011 my mother-in-law passed away, and I kept some of her clothing to make some bears. … Over the next several years I thought about it as a business, but never really did anything about it until March 2020 when a good friend of mine lost her little girl to a tragic accident. I made bears for her and her two daughters to remember their sister by. They needed something to bring them comfort in this very difficult time. I realized at that point that this was something that I could do to bring comfort to other families.”

Sheryl Robbins with bears
Sheryl Robbins with bears

Torgersen has long been a seamstress, and actually teaches sewing lessons professionally. She said that creating these bears has never been about making money, but about bringing comfort to people in times of sorrow.  

“I think what I love most about making the bears is knowing how much comfort it brings to the loved ones who are left behind,” she said. “Since starting this business, I myself have lost a stepfather, a stepmother-in-law and recently a brother-in-law. I know first hand how much these bears can help with the healing process. It’s never been about the money to me. It’s more important to bring comfort. Each bear I make is precious. Each has a story. I make each one with love. It’s something to hold onto when you are missing that person. I want to be a part of bringing comfort to those who are suffering with loss.”

Torgersen said that over the years, she has been touched by the many stories of those she has made items for, adding that she is grateful that they trust her with those stories and with the task of helping them in the healing process. 

“I had a grandma who purchased a new outfit for a grandchild that was to be born, but she unfortunately passed away two weeks before the baby was born. The family hired me to turn the outfit into a bear once the baby had outgrown it,” Torgerson said. “Most stories are very sad, and some make me cry. I’m working on some bears right now for a family that lost their daughter to suicide. This daughter was special to me as she was also one of my first students. I’m having a little bit of a hard time making this order of bears.”

It isn’t just bears that Torgersen makes because many of her clients’ loved ones lost are pets. She said that these projects have also been very touching. 

“I had a man who had had a particular dog for many years who was always by his side. When the dog passed away, the family hired me to make memory dogs instead of memory bears,” she said. “I also make horses, cats, dogs, turtles. I’m going to slowly work on other animals as time goes on. I make two sizes of each animal to accommodate what people can afford.”

Torgersen said that she has even made ties and aprons, as well as special request items. She explained that recently a father just wanted her to make a bear for his daughter to remember him by as she got older. 

“The most unique bear was one ordered by a father for his daughter,” she recalled. “He brought a few of his shirts over for me to make a bear for his ‘little girl.’ There was no loss there; he just wanted something for her to have. He hired me to personalize it with her name and birthdate. I also put ‘Dad’ on it with his birthdate. I thought this was so sweet.”

There is another project that is dear to Torgersen’s heart, and it is for the tiniest babies gone far too soon. For the past eight years, she has made burial clothing including what she calls, “cocoons” for early infant loss, including infants lost in stillbirth and miscarriage up to 12 weeks gestation. These items are made out of donated wedding dresses, and is something that Torgersen does as a volunteer with a bereavement specialist at local hospitals. 

Torgersen said that she finds so much joy in what she does, and she hopes that these items bring comfort to those who need it.

“I love making Memory Bears and creating things to help people grieve,” she said.  I’ll do anything that I can to help bring comfort to those who have lost.”

Torgersen said that she has recently started making Awareness Bears to bring awareness to things like breast cancer. She recently made an infant loss awareness bear, and will donate 50% of the profits of bears sold to help purchase supplies that are needed for the burial outfits and cocoons.

For more information or to order a Memory Bear, search “Memory Bears by Michaun” on Facebook. To donate items to the infant burial clothing, go to “My Angel Baby Project” on Facebook as well. 

Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown is a mom of nine who writes columns for many local and national publications. She currently resides in Payson, and enjoys looking for good happenings in her area and sharing them for others to read about. For more of her stories, search "A Mother's Write" on Facebook.

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