Therapeutic Scarf Activity 

MJ scarf 2.jpg

The benefit of the scarf activity is that it can give healing in the process of letting go and closure, paired with exploration of memory making and emotional navigation. 

In the book the Fox covers the Cardinal with his favorite scarf to provide comfort and connection as he prepares to say good-bye.

It is a symbol of showing his love, affection and coming to peace with letting go. The scarf is also something that is kept close to the heart, which is were love will always remain.  

-There is no right or wrong way when creating the scarves and doing this activity. Follow your heart and intuition.

-This activity can be used for both someone currently passing away or passed away months or years ago.


-Even infants benefit from this activity. The caregiver could make a scarf and keep it for when they are older, put it in the child’s room or somewhere special. Let toddlers scribble and explore. Write the words they are expressing or have expressed in the past.  


-If there are multiple family members everyone could participate in making a collective “Letting Go Scarf” or tie the individual scarves together making a prayer flag or memory collection. It is recommended that each person has their own special “Remembrance Scarf” to keep with them.

What do you need?

1 or 2 Blank Handkerchiefs/Fabric Pieces:One is the “Letting Go Scarf” and the other one is the “Remembrance Scarf” to keep.    

                          Option: Cutting a piece of a tee-shirt or clothing from the loved one who has passed away.


Fabric Markers:

                Optional: Fabric Paint or Acrylic Paint (Hand Prints, Thumb Prints) Acrylic paint tends to be thick and becomes stiff on fabric. It helps to water it down with a couple drops of water. 

Woman Cutting Fabric

-Before the activity take deep breaths with the child helping to center and ground.

-Remember it’s OK to cry and feel emotions while doing the activity.

          -It is common for adults to hold back tears, because they want to protect their child from uncomfortable emotions. If adults express their feelings of sadness it is then an opportunity normalize them, which enhances positive coping.  

-Validate feelings and help label and navigate through them.

-Do not rush. If the child is not ready to do the activity come back to it anytime.   

Letting Go Scarf

The scarf is something tangible and symbolic, as the child holds it they can set an intention as they release it.

It is important to have children feel they are part of the grieving process and are included, which can be done by offering choices. When it comes to difficult experiences such as walking up to the casket or hospital bed should never be forced, rather encouraged. Releasing the scarf gives the child a reason to walk up to the body and say, “good-bye,” while giving them something special.  Prepare your child as much as possible, clear up misconceptions and let them know what to expect so they can decide. Reach out to Child Life Specialists and seek professional help as needed.

Whether the scarf was made collectively or individually there is a power in holding something physical and releasing it to the universe with intention.

       Ways the Letting Go Scarf can be released: 

                -Placed the in the bed with the loved one that is passing or has passed (Due to COVID-19 restrictions the medical staff                        or family member can take pictures or FaceTime).

               -Put it in or on the casket.  

               -Placed or tied on the grave sight

               -Tie it to a tree

               -Bring it to a special event or place and let it go with intention

               -If there are multiple scarves tie them together and hang them, making a type of prayer flag 


Remembrance Scarf

 This scarf is meant to be a comforting keepsake to hold and cherish. The scarf can easily be transported and tucked away.  

               -Spray Scents onto the cloth such as perfume, cologne, baby powder or any familiar fragrances

               -Hang it or tie it in the child’s room

               -The child can sleep with it  

               -Opportunities to open-up conversations about memories and feelings

               -Put it under a pillow or in the pillowcase

               -The child can take it with them when they want to feel safe

               -Sow it unto a blanket or quilt

If the scarf gets lost it could be very difficult for the child, especially if it represents a parent or a close loved one. If the child carries the scarf with them frequently and there is a chance the child could lose the scarf open up comforting conversation and find safe places to keep it. If the scarf does get lost or misplaced say things like, “The scarf is now with the loved one keeping them safe. And even though the scarf is not with is us it is still in our hearts.” The caregiver can positively guide the child into creating a new scarf. Or take picture of the original scarf, and in the occurrence of the scarf being lost, print the picture on fabric or t-shirt and create another one. Encouraging positive coping by labeling emotions and validating feelings.