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Holding grief: Comfort Cub helps all ages with loss


It was the pain of empty arms that spurred The Comfort Cub inventor Marcella Johnson to create a weighted, soft bear to soothe broken hearts. 

In 1999, Johnson learned that her unborn child had a life-limiting condition. Her son, George, died shortly after birth. Grief resulted in literal heartache, a condition known as Takotsubo syndrome or broken heart syndrome – a real medical condition brought on by stress. Johnson discovered that holding a weighted item helped ease the pain, which led her to create The Comfort Cub, a therapeutic teddy bear and now, a nonprofit organization.

Liz Sumner, Executive Director, said the organization’s mission is to provide relief to anyone who has experienced trauma or significant loss. Holding the weighted bear seems simple, but it can have a profound effect for many. 

Originally focused on the pain of infant loss, The Comfort Cub now reaches grieving people of all ages, as well as those suffering in other ways. The nonprofit raises money to provide the bears to those in need and it also allows for direct purchase, purchase for others and bulk sales to hospitals.

“During the last year of COVID, it has been very humbling to see the kind of needs that have emerged,” Sumner said. 

Some people find The Comfort Cub through online searches to find anything to help ease the sorrow they were experiencing. Sumner said the organization has worked with a broad array of people, including children in foster care, women who are survivors of sex trafficking, senior adults who were entirely isolated during the pandemic, people who lost multiple family members to COVID, and yes, still many who experience miscarriage or stillbirth. 

“Every day I am reminded of how many different paths there are for people to come upon tragedy in their life and experience heartbreak,” Sumner said.

It is a sad reality, certainly, but one that does have an encouraging outcome as more people are reached with a small messenger of peace. 

“This humble cub can really manifest relief in so many different situations,” Sumner said. 

Donate, learn more or apply for a cub at thecomfortcub.org.