Made with Prayers and Good Wishes
Author: Elizabeth Cimini
One way I've been getting through the virus craziness is to do more knitting than usual. I'm making prayer shawls for patients at a local nursing home and the hospice facility where my husband died. I've also made cloth face masks for hospice workers. Feeling useful is a big help.
The idea of a prayer shawl is that the person knitting or crocheting it holds onto prayers and good wishes for the recipient while they're making it. It's very comforting to receive one. Ten years ago my husband Joe fell, broke his ankle and developed assorted infections. For five months he was in either the Providence VA Medical Center or a nursing home. Sleeping with the shawl I received made me feel amazingly better. I have no idea who had made it and the maker didn't know who would receive it. Somehow that made it even more special.
I put a personal tag on the shawls going to hospice: "This shawl was made with many prayers and good wishes. I hope it brings you comfort." Hospice has asked if I could knit some red/white/blue ones for veterans. When I make them, the tag will start with “Thank you for your service.”
My grief counselor told me some people cry when they receive one. A worker at the nursing home said some families have had the shawl buried with their loved ones, others bring it home to help feel their relative's presence.
There are LOTS of shawl patterns, some fairly complicated. The only one I use is totally mindless, making it easy to watch TV while knitting. It comes out as a big triangle. That makes it easy to wear, if the person can be out of bed. It doesn't fall off the shoulders the way rectangular ones do.
Now just about anytime I hear about someone going through a bad time, my first thought is to ask if they'd like a shawl. Once a year, my parish has a prayer shawl Mass. The pastor blesses all the shawls the group has made and anyone can take one. Never a charge.
I just felt like sharing something that has helped me.
Elizabeth Cimini is the surviving spouse of 1st Lt. Joseph “Joe” Cimini, who earned his rank in Vietnam as a member of the Army Corps of Combat Engineers. She lives in Rhode Island.