A nonprofit in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, has been making angel kits of gowns, blankets and hats for infants who die during pregnancy or at birth since last year. They’ve given out about 175 kits so far this year, a number expected to grow as word spreads. The founder, Alisha Neal, says the kits bring comfort to families whose children don’t survive, and help them cope with the loss in a way that’s unique to their situation. Requests for the kits are increasing nationwide, she tells KHOU. As many as one in four women will suffer an infant loss, whether from miscarriage or stillbirth, or during the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after birth. Those babies are often buried or cremated, and the grieving parents need something to wrap their little ones in. Volunteers all over the country sew angel gowns from donated wedding dresses to comfort bereaved families. “It’s beautiful, and it’s a full circle — the dress that was worn by a bride was used to clothe the baby who will never be able to wear it,” says volunteer Lisa Grubbs, who has collected more than 30 dresses for her group in Fort Worth, Texas. Gowns are made from unused wedding and formal dresses that are sent to a warehouse, where a seamstress transforms them into burial garments for babies who die during or shortly after birth. Each dress can become about 10 gowns. Those who don’t have a wedding dress to donate can “sponsor” a dress, paying a monetary donation to cover the cost of shipping the dresses and the final products to families across the country. Each package includes a gown, a knitted hat and blanket and a keepsake charm with the baby’s name or heartbeat. In Minnesota, a retired labor and delivery nurse named Tess Soholt saw an opportunity to turn grief into beauty after her son and daughter-in-law lost their 18-week-pregnant baby in Iowa. She bought a wedding dress at Empty the Nest, a thrift store in Golden Valley, and began re-purposing it as an angel gown for a life that never existed. The gowns, called Layla’s gowns, are then sent to hospitals, birthing centers and funeral homes, and directly to grieving families. They’re available for all types of early infant losses, including a miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn who is born too soon. Mayo nurse Lynn Gaber, a cardiovascular surgery ICU nurse at the hospital, has joined Soholt’s effort. Her group, Hillary’s Cherished Gowns, makes the dresses from unused wedding and formal gowns and send them to the NICU at Mayo Clinic for families of infants who lose their lives during or immediately after birth. The gowns are also shipped internationally. The international program gives donors the option to follow the gown’s journey to a developing country, virtual meet and learn about the seamstress who fashioned the dress into an angel gown or angel wrap, and then have the gown returned to them for re-donation in the U.S. “It’s a great opportunity to build a relationship with the seamstress in their home,” says Soholt.
When a child passes away, parents must make difficult decisions. Although it is hard to plan a funeral during such an emotional time, doing so can help families find closure and begin to heal. One of the most important decisions is whether or not to allow a child to attend their sibling’s funeral. The decision is based on an individual assessment of the child’s age and level of emotional maturity. Children can often have a very difficult time understanding death and dying, but it is important to respect their wishes. It is not uncommon for a grieving child to act out in ways that are uncharacteristic for them, and these behaviors should be allowed. It is vital to explain to the child what will happen before, during and after the ceremony. Let their natural curiosity guide the conversation, and answer their questions in an honest and age appropriate manner. Explain that everyone feels differently about this event, and that it is normal to cry sometimes. You can also discuss the upcoming events, what the room will look like and who will be attending the funeral. Depending on the circumstances, it may be beneficial for the child to view their sibling before the service. If this is the case, inform the child in advance and give them a chance to say goodbye. Also, if they will be cremated, discuss that with the child as well. Some families choose to have a small memorial service before or after the funeral. If the child will be present, consider asking them to read a favorite poem or story, write a letter, light a candle or place something special in the casket. This can be a powerful way for children to feel like their feelings matter and that they are part of the celebration of life. A child’s presence at the funeral or memorial service can be very helpful in helping them to find comfort and closure. If it is the child’s wish to be there, this should always take precedence over the wishes of other adults. While it is not necessary for a child to attend the funeral, many families choose to include them in the ceremony. This can be as long or short as a traditional funeral for an adult. The choice is truly up to the family and what feels right for them at this difficult time. Many children have never attended a funeral before and are unfamiliar with the process. It is important to explain to the child what will happen, and that it is ok to ask questions. You can even give them a tour of the funeral home before the ceremony, so that they will know what to expect. If they decide to attend, it is important that the parents are supportive of their decision. If they are not, it is common for children to later regret not going to their sibling’s funeral. It is also essential that the alternative to the funeral is not more exciting or overly stimulating.
Whether you’re shopping for your own baby or for a shower gift, it can be easy to get caught up in the wide array of cute clothing items available. But there are a few infant-wear basics that every parent should have on hand for the new bundle of joy. From baby hats and blankets to onesies, these are the essential pieces of clothing every newborn needs to be comfortable and cozy. Baby bodysuits A classic, a staple in every newborn’s wardrobe and the foundation of any baby clothing collection, the baby onesie is basically a shirt and a diaper in one. Look for options with envelope-style necklines (or kimono-style onesies with side snaps) to make diaper changes easier, as well as a variety of prints and solid colors to mix and match. Also consider buying a multi-pack of baby bodysuits so that you always have multiple clean ones on hand for quick outfit changes or emergencies. Newborns can become fussy when they’re being dressed or undressed, so it’s a good idea to have clothes on hand that are simple to put on and take off. Choose onesies with snaps or zippers instead of buttons, which can be a choking hazard for babies, and opt for sleeve and pant lengths that can be easily rolled up or down for comfort as your baby grows. Babies can be unpredictable with their temperature, and even during the summer, you’ll want to have plenty of warm clothing on hand for your newborn. Layers and jackets are a must, and you’ll want to have a few on hand in various sizes so that your baby can easily add or remove layers as needed. Gerber Childrenswear offers a range of soft and lightweight newborn coats that are ideal for cold weather. In addition to layers and outerwear, you’ll also want to stock up on socks and shoes for your baby. Baby socks are especially important because they help keep chilly feet covered and warm, and they’re also great for keeping newborns’ little toes protected from scratches and debris. Look for socks with non-skid bottoms to keep them in place while your baby is crawling and walking around, as well as cozy fleece liners that are comfortable against the skin. Swaddles and blankets are another must-have for any newborn, and you’ll want to have swaddles in a variety of different sizes so that you can wrap your baby up as often as needed to keep them comfortable and snug. These types of blankets can be used as a travel blanket for car rides, naptime wraps and more, and they come in a range of adorable patterns and colors that your newborn will love. Look for swaddles that have velcro closures to ensure that they stay secure on your baby’s body. This will keep them from trying to break free and cause any discomfort.
Dressing your deceased loved one is an important part of preparing for the funeral and memorial services. Whether you choose to have a viewing, open casket or cremation, your loved ones will be dressed in an outfit that will represent them and their personality. You can dress your loved one in an outfit that they always wore in their life or choose to buy clothing specifically designed for burial needs. These garments typically have openings in the back for easier dressing of the body, more comfortable fabrics and higher necklines. Some of these garments are made by companies that specialize in making funeral gowns, but many can be found from non-funeral clothing suppliers. When choosing an outfit for your deceased loved one, consider what types of clothes they normally wore and the things that were most meaningful to them. Some families prefer that their deceased loved one be dressed in pajamas and slippers while others may want them to be dressed in a wedding dress, tuxedo or other attire that represents their deceased loved ones life and lifestyle. You may want to consult with your local funeral director to see what types of garments they can provide you with if you are unsure what type of outfit your loved one would like to be buried in. Choosing the right outfit for your deceased loved one can be a difficult task. When deciding what to dress your loved one in, you will need to decide how you want them to be represented in their last moment on earth and also consider the religious practices that your loved one may have been a part of. For example, if you know that your loved one was a Muslim, you may need to consult with your mosque to learn about their burial traditions. In Islam, the body is not exposed to the public immediately after death so it is usually covered in a white sheet until a wake, visitation or funeral service can be held. Women are clothed in a sleeveless dress and head veil while men wear tachrichim or shrouds. Burial garments are also an important consideration for some people who choose green or natural burials. Choosing clothing made from organic or biodegradable materials that can break down easily in the soil without leaving any harmful residues will help to ensure that your loved ones final resting place is as environmentally friendly as possible. Many of the outfits available from funeral home and other clothing suppliers are designed with both of these aspects in mind. They typically have more flexible fabrics, openings in the back for ease of dressing of the body by a funeral director or by a loved one and also more comfortable fabrics that are gentle against the skin. In addition, these garments are often designed to be as visually appealing as possible when a person is dressed in them. This is especially true if your loved ones will be dressed in an outfit for a viewing or a celebration of their life.
The life of a wedding dress doesn’t have to end when you say, “I do.” Several charities accept donated gowns, which they sell at affordable prices and use the proceeds to support causes. And because these dresses are used for a good cause, you may even be eligible for a tax deduction (though that’s become more complicated during the pandemic). Here are some of the top places to donate your wedding dress—and other wedding-related items like veils and tiaras—to help brides in need. Brides Against Breast Cancer This nonprofit resells pre-owned bridal dresses at low prices to raise money for early cancer awareness and detection programs as well as reduce the environmental impact of dress manufacturing. It also partners with Rachel’s Gift, which helps families effected by pregnancy loss and infant loss. Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring Donations to this nonprofit bridal boutique provide reduced-price wedding gowns and accessories for underprivileged women in the DC area. The organization also works to empower local high school students by giving them retail jobs and teaching them about the fashion industry. NICU Helping Hands The mission of this charity is to help families who have lost babies in the NICU or to grieving parents who lost their baby during childbirth. Donated wedding gowns are transformed into lace dresses that can be worn during a baby’s funeral service or at home as a keepsake. Unlike most other wedding-gown donation programs, this one does not accept vintage dresses or anything older than five years. Adorned in Grace This faith-based organization aims to help sex trafficking survivors and raise awareness in local communities through its stores, which offer new and gently-used wedding gowns and formalwear. Proceeds from sales go to fund professional counseling for trafficking survivors and awareness publications. Adorned in a Dream This charity provides free wedding gowns to brides who are unable to afford one due to economic hardship or other circumstances. The organization has locations in several states and a website where brides can apply for the gowns. Adorned in Love This is a newer charity that launched in 2018, and it’s the only wedding-dress donation program that’s dedicated to helping teen brides in need. The nonprofit sells the wedding gowns in its online store to raise funds for its free bridal-consulting and wedding-day packages program. Once you’ve found the right place to donate your wedding gown, it’s important to make sure your dress is in good condition. It won’t do anyone any favors if it has visible holes or stains, and this could cause the charity to turn it away. It’s also a good idea to have your gown dry cleaned before shipping it out—this will save the charity volunteers time and may prevent any unexpected damage from taking place while packing it up for its recipient. Finally, be sure to label the box properly with helpful information about the dress to further save charity workers’ time. For example, include the dress size, the brand or designer, and its original price.
MINNEAPOLIS – When parents lose their newborn babies in the hospital, medical staff often has little to offer them beyond a few words of comfort. One nonprofit is hoping to change that with a simple, beautiful and cost-free gift: a gown made from a wedding dress. Angel gowns, which bring dignity to a life that was too short, have been offered by a handful of groups for several years now. The requests have been growing, says Alisha Neal, founder of Angel Babies, a non-profit in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, that has made free angel kits (gown, blanket and keepsake) for families since 2018. A retired labor and delivery nurse from Minnesota who lost her son to SIDS when he was three weeks old, Edith Soholt wanted to do more. Last year, she began a volunteer program to turn wedding dresses into tiny angel gowns for infants who die in the NICU. A single dress can make about 30 of the delicate gowns, which resemble silk christening gowns for baby dolls. Each package, delivered directly into the hands of grieving families, also includes a gold-embossed angel and a memory blanket. She says the small gesture helps parents who might not even be able to say a word, let alone embrace their infants. The gowns also help them honor the life they never got to know, she adds. “It’s not something you get over, it’s a loss that stays with you forever,” Soholt says. Soholt, 66, read about the program at Riley Children’s Health in Indianapolis, where an experienced seamstress was trying to recruit local volunteers to sew outfits for premature and stillborn babies. At the time, Soholt was the sole volunteer at St. Luke’s, a Minneapolis hospital, where she has sewed about 15 gowns in various sizes and designs. She has received requests from across the country. At other hospitals, the demand has been met by volunteer seamstresses who have volunteered their skills or recruited friends to assist. A few have started programs that make the outfits for entire states. A 71-year-old church member in Iowa, for example, has sewed outfits for nearly 300 infants who died in the hospital in the past two years. Then there is the small group of volunteer seamstresses who work with Sunshine State Angel Gowns in Florida, which has supplied thousands of bereavement gowns and memory blankets for newborns who die during pregnancy or shortly after birth. It all started when a woman named Lisa Marsters lost her son Ambrose at just 3 weeks old. She put out a request for help on Facebook and soon found herself with a team of seamstresses who were willing to work with her. They collect donated wedding dresses from all over the state and repurpose them into tiny angel gowns for infants who have passed away during pregnancy or at birth. The group also provides wraps for infants who die in the maternity ward and has a blanket drive for babies who are stillborn or die shortly after birth. Each of the seamstresses has had a personal experience with infant loss or knows someone who has, so they understand the need for these gowns. The volunteers donate their sewing materials and their time, but they also ask for donations to cover the cost of the gold-embossed angels and a memory blanket.
A child funeral is one of the most difficult situations to experience as a parent. Not only do parents have to deal with their own grief, they have to find the strength to set funeral plans in motion. Then they have to explain to their children what will happen. If you are having trouble coping, it is a good idea to delegate some of the work and tasks to someone else. It can be a family member or close friend to handle the communications, send out invitations and so on. You may also want to have this person be the point of contact for anyone who has questions or needs. During this stressful time it is important to make sure that you get enough rest and eat well. It is also a good idea to be aware that the grief process can be exhausting. Some children have no choice about attending a funeral. However, if a child does not have to go, they should be given the option of not going. This will help them to understand that they are allowed to have their own feelings about this loss and that it is okay to cry or not cry. It will also help them to come to terms with the death as it will be less traumatic for them to see their loved one at a later date. Many children have a hard time understanding the concept of death and what happens at a funeral. It is a good idea to talk to your children about the funeral service ahead of time and explain what it will be like. If you are having a burial, you can talk to them about what the casket or urn will look like and that their deceased loved one is not in pain. If you are having a cremation, it is also important to discuss this with your child and to explain that the ashes will be put in a special urn. Children often feel that they do not belong at a funeral service, especially if they are the only ones there who are not adults. It can be comforting to have a friend or family member sit with them. If they begin to feel overwhelmed, they can ask this person to take them to the lobby or somewhere else for a break. Having a book, favourite toy or quiet game to keep them occupied can also help them feel more comfortable. It is also helpful to let a child know that there will be a variety of emotions at a funeral service. People will be crying, laughing and even screaming. It is also a good idea to prepare them in advance for the possibility of seeing their deceased loved one being carried into or out of the funeral service, particularly if you are having a viewing and funeral service at the same time. It can be very traumatic for a child to see their deceased loved one being wheeled away and then being buried or placed into an urn.
Baby clothing should be soft and breathable. Babies have incredibly delicate skin that absorbs and loses moisture very easily. It is important to avoid fabrics that rub or scratch against the skin as this can cause friction and chafing. Instead, try cotton or a fabric that wicks away moisture such as linen. Additionally, baby clothes should not contain any chemicals as this can be harmful to a developing child. Organic cotton is the safest option as it does not use any harsh chemicals during the growing and weaving process. Another factor to consider when choosing baby clothes is season and geographic climate. Babies grow fast and may only wear each size for a few months before outgrowing them. Buying seasonal clothing can help avoid wasting money on clothing that isn’t used. Additionally, purchasing a variety of colors and patterns will allow you to create multiple outfits from a few key pieces. The most popular type of baby clothing is the all-purpose bodysuit, commonly referred to as the onesie. This versatile garment will make up the majority of your newborn’s wardrobe for the first few months of life. Its convenient features include snap closures at the crotch and legs, which can be easily undone for diaper changes. It also has a flap at the neckline that opens up to expose the shoulders, making it easy to put on and take off. Onesies can be purchased at any store, but there are some companies that specialize in ethically-sourced and sustainably made baby clothes. One such company is Colored Organics, a brand that uses GOTS certified cotton and employs fair-trade practices. Their adorable designs and simple silhouettes are perfect for any newborn’s closet. Their collection also includes hats, pants, and tops. In addition to their ethically-sourced designs, this company also donates a portion of their profits to children in need. Other brands that specialize in sustainable and ethically-sourced baby clothing include Roller Rabbit and Hanna Andersson. Both of these brands offer a wide range of trendy styles and are up to date on the latest fashion trends. Their breezy ruffled rompers and jacquard-knit sweaters are sure to be a hit with any fashionable child. These companies are great for those looking for a stylish addition to their child’s wardrobe without breaking the bank. When shopping for baby clothing, it is best to try things on before purchasing them. This will help ensure that the items fit well and are not too tight or loose. It is also helpful to buy clothes in person as it can be difficult to judge sizes online. It is important to keep in mind that babies can grow quite quickly, so it is best to purchase a slightly larger size than you would normally purchase for yourself. For example, if you typically buy a size 6 in adult clothes, it is best to get a size 7 in baby clothes. This will allow your baby to grow into the item rather than it becoming too small and restricting their movement.
Burial gowns are special outfits worn by the deceased for their final services, which may include a viewing or open casket funeral. These clothing pieces are designed to be simple for funeral directors to dress people who have died in, and they come in a wide variety of fabrics and colors. Some are also made with particular cultural considerations in mind. Whether the deceased left instructions in their will or told a family member what clothes they wanted to be buried in, the final outfit choice can make a meaningful statement about who the person was when they were alive. For example, if the deceased was a baseball fan, you might want to consider dressing them in their favorite team’s jersey for their burial. The same applies to hobbies. You might want to dress your loved one in a shirt and jeans if they were always wearing them, or you might choose an outfit that shows off their love of flowers or cooking. The color of the garments that are chosen to be used at funerary services can be important as well. In many cultures, bright colors are seen as appropriate attire for funerals and other funerary events. This is especially true in Africa, the Caribbean, and West Indies where celebration of life ceremonies are more common than traditional mourning services. For this reason, burial outfits are often sewn in colorful fabric designs that match the loved one’s personality and lifestyle. In addition, companies such as Rita Barber and Vera Lee Garments offer a range of different color options for their burial clothing. Another consideration in choosing the right style of outfit for a loved one is the weather conditions where the funerary service will be held. Cold weather can necessitate the use of heavier fabrics such as wool and velvet, while warmer weather will call for breathable materials like cotton and linen. Some funeral homes have clothing closets with a selection of burial clothes available for families to use at their services, while others will allow family members to bring their own preferred items. Many people prefer to wear clothes that were a part of their everyday lives when they are buried. These clothes can be anything from a smart night gown or pyjamas to a more formal daytime dress. There are also some companies that specialize in making bespoke burial apparel for children, ranging from small sizes for babies to big boy and girl suits. Some companies that create burial clothing also design them with environmental concerns in mind. For example, Mark Mitchell, a designer of green burial garments, uses natural fibers and luxury fabrics to create one-of-a-kind looks for his models. This approach, which follows McDonough and Braungart’s (2002) five steps to eco-effectiveness, is intended to be both respectful of the deceased and the environment. In addition, Australian scholar, artist, and funeral celebrant Pia Interlandi has combined her work in apparel design, fiber science, and forensics to create a line of burial clothes called “Garments for the Grave” that are designed with easy dressing and the human body in mind.
If you’re an eco-conscious bride or simply don’t want your dress to hang in a closet as a keepsake, there are plenty of charities and thrift shops that accept wedding gowns for reuse. Most will have specific guidelines for your donation, so it’s a good idea to check with the organization to find out what is required before you bring your gown to the shop. Here are some of the top places to donate your dress, along with details on how you can help: 1. Adorned in Grace – This nonprofit bridal boutique with locations throughout the US accepts donated prom and formal dresses for girls in need. Their mission is to give every young girl a chance to wear her dream dress, and their online form makes it easy to get started. They also accept flower girl and maid of honor dresses, as well as accessories like veils and tiaras. 2. Brides Across America – This nonprofit outfits military and first responder brides with the wedding dress of their dreams at special events twice a year. They’re currently accepting gowns for their Operation Wedding Gown events in 2019. To donate your dress, fill out the online form and send your gown, veil, and jewelry to their address. 3. NICU Helping Hands Angel Gown Program – This nationwide nonprofit repurposes wedding gowns into burial dresses for babies who die during or shortly after birth. They’re currently accepting gowns for this new initiative, and their seamstresses will transform your dress into a beautiful final garment. 4. Brides Against Breast Cancer – This charity supports breast cancer research and early detection through the sale of donated gowns. It’s one of the many worthy organizations that Brides Do Good partners with. Donations can be dropped off at your local Salvation Army, or you can schedule a pick-up on the website. 5. Wish Upon a Wedding – This DC-based nonprofit helps terminally ill couples celebrate their wedding or vow renewal. They accept donations of dresses and accessories, including veils, tiaras, and slips, to make their clients’ wedding dreams come true. They also provide high school students with work-study opportunities at the boutique. Donations of dresses and other gowns are tax-deductible in the US. 6. Weddings on a Shoestrung – This boutique in Washington, DC provides brides with reduced-price bridal gowns and other wedding-related accessories, along with job skills training for young women in the area. They accept new and gently worn long and short formal gowns, plus flower girl and bridesmaid dresses. 7. Brides Do Good – This company’s boutiques in Portland, Tacoma, and Mesa, Arizona sell wedding dresses that have been donated from brides around the country. The proceeds from the resale of these gowns support projects to empower and educate young women, so they can choose a future filled with possibilities. Pronovias Group is proud to partner with this worthy cause. Before you donate your wedding gown, it’s important to take some precautions to protect the fabric and lace from snags and rips. Be sure to pack it safely in a clean garment bag. Label the box with helpful information about your dress to save the charity volunteers’ time: the size, brand or designer, and the year you bought it.