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Memorial Quilts Help Families Celebrate Lost Loved Ones


In May 2019, Colleen Casey received the kind of phone call every parent fears. While taking a photo of the Oregon Coast’s majestic scenery, her 21-year-old daughter Michelle had tripped and fallen 100 feet down a cliff, landing against a tree. It took two hours to rescue her and fly her to a Portland hospital, where she later died.

Now, as the fifth anniversary of Michelle’s death nears, Colleen is treasuring the two quilts she commissioned made from her daughter’s favorite clothing for herself and her older daughter.

The quilter, Rosie Rhine, says she could feel the presence of Colleen’s daughter as she sewed. Rhine has been quilting since 1973 and started Rhino Quilting in 2006. She specializes in bereavement and memory quilts.

The blanket is filled with things that symbolize Michelle’s many hobbies and passions: volleyball, singing, TaeKwonDo, travel, working at Starbucks, being an Oregon State University student, going to the Disney parks and to concerts, and the sense of belonging she found in Young Life. 


“It’s a tangible, poignant reminder of what we have and don’t have anymore. As time has gone on, it’s more about the joy that she brought when she was alive rather than the sorrow, which comes up in other ways. The quilts – to me – bring back the positive memories,” Casey explained.

Rhine says that when families pick up their quilts, they see their loved ones in them. “It doesn’t matter how much work (I put in), or how nice I made it, or if I made the ugliest quilt in the world, they would love it. The artistry that I hope I put in it is secondary or way down the list. I am aware of that, and it is just wonderful to see,” Rhine explained.

Families can choose to have a name or quote placed on the backside of the quilt. Casey says it is another way to keep a loved one’s legacy alive. “It’s always going to be Michelle’s quilt. So no matter what happens, it’s another way of making sure that that person’s legacy, their story is still out there, they’re not forgotten. To me, that’s incredibly important,” she explained.

You can find more information about memorial and bereavement quilts at