After the sudden death of a sibling, a Renown ICU nurse found comfort in a new hobby, which she now uses to help families experiencing grief.
Intensive Care Unit Nurse Amber Solesbee knows the grief of losing a family member suddenly.
Solesbee recently made bracelets for a family in the ICU who lost their son. The bracelets were handcrafted out of leather, and engraved with the rhythm of their son’s heartbeat. She packaged them with a letter to the family, which read:
“I took a copy of his heart rhythm and burned it onto the inside of these leather bracelets I made for you, so that you have his heart beat close to yours … I hope you can wear these and know that he will always be with you.”
Solesbee experienced her own tragic loss when her sister was murdered four years ago. For holiday gifts, she had crafted similar bracelets for her family and engraved “I love you” on each in her sister’s handwriting.
“When I wasn’t at work, I’d turn to crafts,” she says. “It’s kind of my way of healing.”
And while she engraved the patient’s heartbeat onto the leather, she was reminded of how much she missed her sister. But this time, it was therapeutic.
“The sentimental value I felt while I was doing it — it felt amazing,” she says. “I felt like my sister was with me.”
Solesbee made six bracelets for the patient’s family, and she created an expandable one for the patient’s younger sibling so that it could fit when they were older.
Christopher Paul, RN, delivered the bracelets to the family.
“It felt good to give them something to hold on to,” Paul says. “Something to remember [him] by.”
Solesbee adds, “That’s all I could wish [for], just knowing that they had some peace, even though they’ll never get over that loss.”
For Solesbee, leather symbolizes strength and durability. And it’s a visible reminder of how far she’s come, and what others go through.
“I feel stronger for that and I feel like a better nurse,” she says. “For a while there after I lost my sister, I wanted to get out of trauma nursing … but then I realized that this is my home and this is my family. I love the nurses and doctors I work with. And my loss has made me more relatable to the patients and families and what they’re going through.”