For the most part, my quilting hobby is fun, especially the t-shirt quilt commissions. I love the look on someone’s face (usually a sneaky mom who smuggled shirts to me) when they see those shirts made into a quilt their senior will take to college. But sometimes the quilt commissions can take a more somber tone. Sometimes I’m tasked with a commission to make a memory quilt from clothes from a loved one that has passed on. I’ve made memory quilts from clothes of both deceased younger and older folks, and it’s a profound task, preserving memories of someone else’s loved one.
My first t-shirt quilts were from my father’s clothes, and they showed me the healing power of a memory quilt. My father died unexpectedly, and I had a lot of anger mixed in with my grief. It was an anger that I didn’t know what to do with, and I felt powerless to confront. And then my grandmother told me I’d be making four t-shirt quilts for myself, her, and my two other sisters. And it was in the making of these that I found a degree of peace and finally felt like I could say goodbye. Clothes are probably the hardest part of a loved one to reliquish. We remember what they looked like in them, which ones they favored, and they even smell like that person for a long time afterwards.
I was nervous when I made a memory quilt for someone outside of my own family. It was for a young man who had passed away from cancer. I remember gulping a bit as I finished up the design process and was ready to make those initial cuts into the shirts. Again, the idea of preserving those memories for someone else is daunting. So I prayed. I placed my hand on the bags of clothes and prayed for guidance, peace for the grieving family, and the ability to do that person’s memory justice. Whenever I have a quilt that has a similar back story, I take the time to pray beforehand, asking for the same guidance.
I thought I would share that prayer with you all in case you find yourself faced with a similar challenge. Feel free to use, adjust, or change as needed.
“Heavenly Father, I pray your guidance as I make this quilt. Please guide my hands that I may do justice to this person’s memory. May this quilt bring their family comfort in their grief and remind them of more joyful times. In your name I pray, amen.”