More than 1,000 knitted keepsake hearts sent to hospital to support families through bereavement

More than 1,000 knitted keepsake hearts have been sent to Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital to help support families and their loved ones through bereavement.

Stacey Picken, bereavement nurse specialist, with one of the knitted keepsake hearts
Stacey Picken, bereavement nurse specialist, with one of the knitted keepsake hearts

The hearts have been donated to the hospital after an appeal went out on social media from Stacey Picken, specialist bereavement nurse at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT).

They were first introduced at the trust during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic; a pair of homemade hearts are shared – one stays with the patient while the other is given, if possible, to their family.

Families have found the hearts are providing them with some comfort at a difficult time, including Jayne Faulkner, a specialist respiratory physiotherapist for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, whose mother Janice Faulkner, from Walsall Wood, died on May 21 at the age of 70.

Janice had a stroke in 2017 and was very ill at the time, in intensive care.

She fought back and made a good recovery with therapy.

Janice Faulkner

Unfortunately, in May this year she had another stroke on the other side of her brain which she did not recover from.

Jayne said: “Before my mum’s first stroke she taught me how to crochet and taught me the basics. She always wanted to help others so when I saw the appeal, I knew she would want me to make some and donate them to help patients and their families.

“I watched a tutorial on how to make them and within 20 minutes I had made my first one. I have made 40 now so if I have helped a lot of families, this means a lot to me.

“It has helped me while being so sad as it has provided a distraction and something positive to focus on.

“I also found the hearts a comfort when mum passed away as we weren’t there in her final moments, so knowing she had a crochet heart we all kissed to be with her was a lovely token. We left a crochet heart on her pillow, and we have one as well.”

Stacey, who made the original appeal, added: “Some families have kindly shared their experience with us on how a keepsake heart has given them comfort during their bereavement.

"We have received feedback such as ‘you can treasure your keepsake heart so closely to your heart as it means so much when your heart is breaking’, ‘small gesture can mean so much’ and ‘it makes such a difference’.

“We hope by offering families a small, keepsake heart and reassuring them that one will remain with their loved one will be a small comfort to them during a difficult time.

“Jenny Jones and I, specialist nurses in bereavement, want to say a special thank you to all the amazing volunteers for the donations we have received.

“We have had an overwhelming response, with more than 400 comments on our social media post and more than 700 shares, plus 140 emails – and counting – on how to volunteer, along with more than 1,000 keepsake hearts donated so far. Thank you again.”

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