Seamstress makes teddy bears out of Covid victims’ clothes

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Ciudad Juarez: A seamstress in pandemic-stricken Mexico is helping families of coronavirus victims to cope with their loss by making teddy bears using the clothes of their dead relatives. Erendira Guerrero used to make face masks to help to prevent the spread of the virus in Mexico, which has one of the world’s highest Covid-19 death tolls.

Now, her aim is to help people to “achieve closure” with her stuffed animals. The 55-year-old hopes that grieving relatives will initially see the teddy bear as a small part of their late loved ones, but gradually come to consider it as merely an object.

“Once you give it to them a very special bond is created,” she said in her workshop in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez. She sells the teddy bears for 600 pesos (about $30) to people who contact her through social media.

Aracely Ramirez had a stuffed animal made from the plaid jacket that her father used to wear. “He liked it a lot because it was very warm. It was made of flannel and every time I hold it, it’s a piece of him in my hands, in my life,” the 50-year-old said.

The bear is embroidered with the words: “This is a garment that I used to wear. Every time you hug it, I want you to know that I am there. With love: Dad.”

Mexico has officially recorded around 1.59 million Covid-19 infections and nearly 138,000 deaths – the world’s fourth-highest toll after the United States, Brazil and India. Restrictions aimed at curbing infections mean many families are unable to say goodbye to their dying relatives or hold proper funerals.

Like many, Ramirez was unable to hold a wake for her father and only eight family members could be present at the graveside, including her.She said the teddy bear helped her to “understand that he’s gone, and say goodbye to him and thank him for everything he taught me and everything he gave me.”