A Cherished Gift in Times of Grief

Erin and Chris Mammen donated five teddy bears to Fairview Ridges Hospital after the loss of their daughter. What happened next has brought comfort to hundreds.

She didn’t plan to, but Erin Mammen unlocked the power of social media to do an irreplaceable amount of good.

In the summer of 2015, Erin posted that she and her husband, Chris, were donating five teddy bears to Fairview Ridges Hospital, where they both work. The donation was made in memory of their daughter, Paige—who was lost during pregnancy at 24 weeks—as a way to comfort other moms in the same situation.

“Anyone who has experienced the loss of a baby knows that there is a physical ache in your arms and a need to hold onto something and be comforted,” says Erin. “It’s the loneliest feeling in the world. This way, there is something for other moms to hold onto and know that they are not alone.”

The power of social media

After posting a photo of the "Paige Bears" on social media, support flooded in. Family, friends and friends of friends wanted to join the cause. To date, the family has donated more than 300 bears and other gifts to 20 different Minnesota hospitals. The count will reach 500 by spring 2018.

"Every hospital has a room where they keep items for families who have experienced loss," Erin says. "When people make donations, we get boxes of the bears and I add a purple bow on with a message on it. When there is a loss at the hospital, the nurses give the bear to the family." 

A profound impact

The difference the bears make for other moms—some of whom Erin has met through support groups—have brought a new dimension to the family’s efforts.

“We thought this was a way to honor our daughter's life, but we realized Paige's story didn't end that day," Erin says. "Through the bears, her story continues.”   

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