When it comes to grief-related crafts, I really like taking crafts that we are already familiar with and adding a personal touch to it that reminds us of our babies who have died. That was the idea when I thought of this paper chain craft. I used to enjoy making paper chains as a kid. It's simple to do, easy to personalize by using the colors you'd like, and the rhythm you get into as you string the chains together can be relaxing.
In this project, I used the same idea of a paper chain, but I wrote the names of each family member on each chain before linking them together. Not only is it personal to the family, but I liked the symbolism behind it. Linking the chains together shows that the family is bound together, connected to each other forever, even with any members who have died. Also, as you see at the end of the tutorial, you can make a wreath with the chain. The shape of a wreath, a circle, is also symbolic. Circles stand for eternity since they have no beginning or end. The love of a family, especially the love they have for a deceased baby, is like that forever kind of love.
For this tutorial, I used the names of a family who has done some wonderful work for those affected by pregnancy and infant loss. Kim started her non-profit Mera's Mission after the death of her daughter Mera at 9 days old. Kim hosts a virtual support group, makes hospital care packages, donates Caring Cradles, among other things. What a way to honor the memory of her sweet Mera! Check out her website here: https://www.merasmission.org or visit her Instagram @merasmission.
Now let's begin our tutorial!
What you'll need:
Step 1: Cut out the individual paper chains
For each chain, we folded a portion of the construction paper to create a strip that was about 2 inches in width. We tried to neatly fold each chain to create a straight crease. We unfolded the paper and then cut along that crease. Make as many chains as you have family members, both those living and deceased. You may also choose to make a few additional chains.
Step 2: Write family members' names on the chains
We next wrote a family member's name on each chain. Depending on the ages and number of kids that are working on this project, this part can be done in different ways.
You could have each family member write their own name and decorate their individual chain. Then, an adult can write the name(s) of the deceased sibling(s) and then any living siblings can decorate those chains. For younger kids or just to get some handwriting practice, you could also choose to lightly write the names of the family members with a pencil and have the child you are crafting with trace over the pencil with a marker as we did in our own tutorial.
Step 3: Link chains together
Choose one chain to start with. Overlap the ends to create a circular chain shape and hold in place using a piece of tape.
Choose another chain. String it through the first chain you made. Then tape the ends together as you did for the first chain.
Keep linking the chains together so that all family members' chains are now joined.
Step 4: Decide how you want to decorate with your paper chain
Paper chains can be fun to decorate with! If you'd like to make your chain longer, simply add more links onto the chain. You could drape it like a banner across a shelf or mantlepiece. If you have a memorial display for your baby, the chain may be a nice addition for a living sibling to contribute.
For our own chain, we added a few more links and then joined them together into a circle to make it look like a wreath. Then, we filled a glass with some flowers we found outside and created a table centerpiece!
However you decide to decorate with your chain, I hope that this project helps your family to connect with each other, including with those family members who have died.