The moment a mother learns her baby will not live is a terrifying time. It’s even more devastating if that child is born in the NICU, where nurses and families have to care for infants with life-threatening conditions. One of the hardest things is finding clothes for the tiny babies. That’s why some nurses and others are turning wedding dresses into outfits for the ones who won’t make it home. NAPLES, Fla. — Lori Gulley lost her daughter Laura Lee when she was just four days old. She remembers trying to find clothes small enough to fit her daughter, but it was impossible. She never wanted another grieving family to have that problem. So she started sewing these small gowns from donated wedding dresses. Now, she’s one of many seamstresses nationwide who do the same. A lot of the gowns go to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are part of a program called Project NICU Helping Hands, which was started by two neonatologists in that hospital. Judi Gibson oversees the program, and she says they’ve had a need for the gowns for a long time. They can be used as baptismal gowns or burial outfits, and they help parents cope with the loss of their infant. Clarke-Pounder says some families don’t know what to do when they lose a baby, but she hopes the angel gowns will give them something that’s very special. Gowns can be made from a variety of materials, but the most popular are satin and silk. A lot of people donate their own wedding dresses for this purpose, but there are also places that collect dresses and make them into these outfits. Some of these groups offer their services in the United States, while others are international. One of the international organizations is called Sunshine State Angel Gowns. Its founder, Edith McCall, was a retired schoolteacher from an Indiana town of around 40,000 people. When she read a newspaper article about the need for angel gowns at Riley, she was moved to act. She recruited a friend and fellow seamstress to help her, and they quickly started getting orders. But the need eventually became too much for one person to handle, so Edith reached out to others in the community. Now, more than a dozen women volunteer to wash, cut and sew dresses into these special outfits. Some of the dresses go to a place like Guatemala, where indigenous seamstresses are paid to make them, and other gowns are sent to the US. The gowns are then delivered directly to a hospital or a grieving family. It’s an amazing way to bring a little love and comfort to a very sad time. You can donate a dress and make a financial donation on their website. If you choose to do the international program, you can follow your dress as it goes to its destination country (currently Guatemala), meet your seamstress, and see the impact your donation has made.
A child funeral is a special service held to celebrate the life of an infant or young child. It may be a full ceremony similar to one for an adult, or a simple gathering at the graveside, and it can include whatever the family wishes to do to honour their child, including a memorial. If your child is old enough to understand what’s happening, you might ask them if they want to take part in the service, whether it’s reading a poem, singing a song or giving a speech. They might also choose to draw a picture or write a letter, or leave something special like a teddy bear or photo in the casket. If they do decide to participate, it’s important that you help them prepare for what’s coming. It’s also a good idea to create an order of service booklet so that children know what’s going to happen and what they need to wear (for example, dark clothing). This can be printed at home or by a professional. It’s a good idea to have a copy of this to give to any children attending, so that they can refer back to it and feel confident that they’re following what the family has decided. If they’re old enough to understand, you might also ask them if they would like to help wash or dress the body and help carry it into the funeral room. This can be a very moving experience and can be a great way to help them understand that the body is not ‘sick’ or ‘bad’. You can also invite the children to touch their sibling’s casket or urn, if they wish, but make it clear that this is completely optional and not required. Explain that the body may have marks on it or may look a little different and that this is normal. It’s also a good idea to have someone available who can answer any questions that the child might have during the service, perhaps a family member or grief counselor. Some children will say that they don’t want to go to the funeral, and it’s completely normal for them to feel this way. It’s best to discuss why they feel this way and try to address their fears, but don’t force them to attend if they really don’t want to. They might just need a little more time to process, and forcing them could be very traumatizing for them. You might consider bringing a friend or relative with you to the service as their “funeral buddy.” This is someone who can support them during the services and who won’t mind taking them out of the room if they need to. This person can be there to play with them and distract them from any feelings of discomfort, or to explain the different parts of the service if they’re unsure what’s happening. This is also a good idea if you’re concerned that the child will be frightened by the sight of their deceased sibling.
Newborns need a lot of clothing to keep them cozy and clean. The best baby clothes are soft and made from natural materials that don’t trap moisture against baby’s sensitive skin. They should also be breathable and absorbent. And of course, they should be easy to wash. Baby clothing is available in a wide range of styles and fabrics, from swaddle blankets to footie pajamas. If you’re registering for baby clothes, it’s important to keep in mind that babies grow very quickly. Most brands recommend sizing up when things fit a little snugly or when their toes start peeking out of the end of the sleeves (for example, in footie pajamas). When it comes to newborn outfits, remember that basics are best. Outfits with lots of buttons, ruffles, or other extras may be cute, but they won’t be practical for everyday wear. Instead, look for onesies, leggings/pants and pajamas with long or short sleeves and legs that will provide a comfy fit throughout the day and night. Onesies are a baby wardrobe essential, although most stores refer to them as bodysuits (Gerber has the trademark on “onesie”). They’re like regular T-shirts that snap at the crotch and can be worn with or without diapers. They’re typically a cotton knit with short or long sleeves. They’re available in many prints and colors, from plain onesies to striped options. Having plenty of oneies and other basic outfits on hand will help you save money by not having to shop for them as often. When you do need to buy more, check your local thrift store or online retailers for gently-used items that can be a great deal cheaper than brand-new clothing. You can find organic knit baby clothes at a number of online and brick-and-mortar stores, including Old Navy, Target, and Hanna Andersson. Another option is to buy baby clothes from a specialty retailer, like the eco-friendly Gerber Children’s Wear brand. These clothes are available at a slightly higher price point, but they’re often designed with fresh and on-trend colors and patterns. When choosing clothes for your baby, you should consider the climate in which they live. If you live in a cold climate, you’ll want to have a variety of outerwear to keep your baby warm. In addition to snowsuits, you’ll also need a jacket or coat that will keep your baby’s body heat in. In warmer weather, you’ll need a light jacket or coverup to protect your newborn from the sun. A sun hat will also protect their delicate scalp. Besides being an excellent choice for the environment, organic cotton is also gentle on your baby’s sensitive skin. This fabric doesn’t irritate or generate allergic reactions, and it can be washed at temperatures that are high enough to sterilize the garment. It’s also a good choice for babies because it breathes well.
When it comes to dressing the dead, there are plenty of choices. A funeral director may provide a garment to be worn with the coffin or cremation urn, or a family can bring their own clothing. The choice often depends on whether there is a public viewing, an open casket, or a wake, and what type of funeral it will be. In many cultures that shroud the dead, such as observant Jews and Muslims, there is a specialized art to it. They have long traditions that include a specific garment and a set of pieces, an order in which they are assembled, a special way that knots are tied, and even a prayer and song. The art of preparing for death is an incredibly beautiful and meaningful tradition that should be experienced by everyone. Generally, funeral gowns are made of white satin or other fabrics that are soft and drape well. They are often decorated with embroidery, lace or other embellishments. They are designed to be respectful and dignified, but also comforting and peaceful for the deceased. They are meant to be both a visual and tactile reminder of the life and love of a person. In the 17th and 18th centuries, some women even laid out the dress they wanted to be buried in before they went into labor. That way, if they died in childbirth, their family would already know what to dress them in. The clothing worn by the deceased can also help to tell a personal story. For example, a woman who loved cats might be dressed in a cat shaped cap or hat for her funeral. This is a beautiful and heartwarming way to honor her love for animals. Some families will even wear their loved one’s own clothing after they die, either for a viewing or at the graveside service. One funeral director recalled a woman who had saved her pink floral nightgown, satin quilted bathrobe, and rosary beads to be buried in with her. The outfit looked beautiful next to her mahogany casket and helped to reflect her sweet personality and thoughtfulness. There are also funeral pillows and wreaths that can be adorned with flowers for the casket or urn. Funeral wreaths are generally circular in shape and are a common symbol of eternal life or faith. They are usually crafted from red, pink, or white flowers and are sent from immediate family members. Funeral hearts are another floral arrangement that is popular. If you are planning a green funeral, there are burial gowns that are made with natural fibers like wool or cotton and free of synthetic materials such as nylon threads, elastic waistbands, plastic zippers or buttons. They are designed to be eco-friendly and biodegradable. Often, they are handmade by artisans you can find online or at natural and green funeral supply distributors.
Many brides don’t plan to wear their wedding dress again, but that doesn’t mean they want it to gather dust in a closet. Donating a used gown not only provides another bride with her dream dress, it also benefits charitable causes and clears out closet space. But which charity to donate the gown to depends on a few factors, including your cause preferences, budget, and location. The good news is that there are plenty of worthy charities to choose from. For example, if you’re interested in donating to a women’s-focused nonprofit that works to improve the lives of girls and women around the world, consider Brides for a Cause. The nonprofit bridal store resells donated wedding dresses and raises funds for dozens of women-focused charities. The store accepts both new and used dresses, as well as bridal accessories. You can drop off your donation in person or mail it to the store with specific shipping instructions. Other charities, like Adorned in Grace, are focused on supporting the reintegration of sex trafficked brides into their communities. The organization’s stores sell both new and gently-used dresses, with sales proceeds funding professional counseling for sex trafficked brides, awareness publications, and more. It’s important to note that if you choose to donate your gown to one of these organizations, you’ll need to dry clean it first. This step helps reduce the risk of stains or pests, which can damage your dress or harm the people who will be using it. Donating your dress to a thrift shop is also a popular option, and it’s an easy way to help cash-strapped brides. Most local Goodwill stores accept wedding dresses and other formalwear for sale in their boutiques, with proceeds used to support the nonprofit’s programs. Some Goodwill locations also hold yearly bridal events, where donated gowns are showcased and available for purchase. You can also donate your gown to a charity that supports a specific issue you’re passionate about, like cancer or pregnancy loss. NICU Helping Hands, for example, accepts donations from brides to turn their wedding gowns into infant burial gowns. These beautiful little white gowns are then given to grieving families for their newborn babies free of charge. If you prefer to keep your dress intact, you can use it for home decor or a cherished keepsake. Or, you can repurpose the fabric for other clothing, like baptism gowns or baby blankets. The best part is that any of these options will benefit a cause you care about while clearing out closet space and reducing waste. Plus, you’ll avoid the environmental impacts of purchasing and producing new clothing that ends up in landfills. In addition to helping a worthy cause, you can also claim your donation on your taxes. The IRS recognizes donated items, such as wedding dresses, as itemized deductions if you give them to qualified charities. To make the process easier, check out these tips for claiming your charitable deductions.
When a baby is born prematurely and dies before leaving the hospital, families often receive clothes to help them say goodbye. Known as angel gowns, they come in all sizes for both boys and girls. The gowns are made from donated wedding dresses and sold to hospitals, funeral homes or directly to grieving parents free of charge. The outfits are made with lace, beads, appliques and sequins. These gowns are the brainchild of a woman named Angel Ray who started Tiny Angel Gowns in Pennsylvania after her cousin’s ill-fated pregnancy. Ray, a retired college professor, was awed by the kindness of strangers who reached out to her family after their loss and saw the need for more preemie angel gowns. Her nonprofit is now nationwide, with more than 500 volunteers working to provide the gowns to grieving families. The organization sends the gowns to hospitals, bereavement groups and funeral homes across the country. Each kit includes a special gown, a blanket and two hats for the tiny little ones, plus a heart and a memorial trinket. “The idea is to have the gowns ready for those first and last moments, when a child goes home or for pictures, for a memorial service or when family members arrive at the hospital,” Ray said. At Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, nurses and doctors oversee a Comfort Committee that works with families and babies who may not survive their time in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. One of those staffers, Melissa Tyo, a nurse who works with preemies and their families, says she’s seen the gowns give some families peace of mind and comfort during this difficult time. “There is something so full circle about it. A bride starts her life and then gives her dress away for this very important reason, and to me that’s just so amazing and moving,” she tells KHOU. Tyo works with a team that collects and transforms the wedding dresses into the angel gowns, which are then delivered to hospitals throughout the nation as part of an organization called Neonatal Intensive-Care Unit Helping Hands. One of the seamstresses who volunteers her time to make these dresses, Lisa Grubbs, is from Fort Worth. She is able to work with women from around the country who are donating their wedding dresses for this purpose. “There is a connection between a bride’s love for her groom and her love for her unborn child, and when this is done, it’s like a complete circle,” she tells KHOU. For many families, losing a baby is unimaginable. But the hope that their child will go home in a beautiful, handmade gown is one small measure of comfort. And that’s why programs like this are so needed.
The death of a child can be one of the most difficult life experiences that anyone will ever face. A child funeral is a way for parents, siblings and friends to say goodbye in a loving and life-affirming way. It is important for parents and caregivers to take time to decide whether or not a child funeral is right for them, and to prepare their children appropriately. When deciding on whether or not to include a child funeral in your plans, it is also helpful to consider how you wish to remember and honor the deceased child, and who will be present for the services. Some people prefer a small memorial service of close family and friends, while others may want a larger gathering and more traditional ceremony to mark the life of their beloved child. Explaining to your children what will happen at the funeral is an important step in preparing them. It is best to speak in age appropriate terms, and avoid scaring them with the details. It is especially important to let them know that they will hear singing and possibly see a casket or urn, and that some adults may be crying. For older children who are able to comprehend more of what is happening, it is possible that they will wish to participate in the service in some way. If they do, it is important to ask them if there is anything they would like to do, and to make arrangements with the person in charge of the service. This can be as simple as asking them to place a flower on the coffin, or as complex as reading a poem or speech. It is not uncommon for children to express a desire not to attend the funeral. This is a natural and normal response to a loss, and it is important to respect this decision. It is equally as important to support them if they do decide not to attend, and to find ways for them to say their final farewells. For example, they might be able to stay with a friend or babysitter during the service, and watch it online or on TV later. It is also useful to plan activities during the service that will keep your children engaged and help them manage their emotions. For example, a video slideshow can be a comforting and familiar activity, and it might be helpful to have some pictures of the deceased child available for them to touch and look at. Other activities might include playing games, reciting favorite poems or songs, or lighting candles and sending them into the sky. A child who feels involved in the funeral process is more likely to remain calm and happy during it.
Whether you’re preparing for a new arrival in your family or trying to impress loved ones with an adorable registry, shopping for baby clothing is an important — and often overwhelming — task. But with a little know-how, it’s not too difficult to stock your newborn’s wardrobe with the essentials. In addition to understanding the basics of infant sizes and how much you need in each size, it’s also helpful to know which brands carry on-trend styles that can grow with your child. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to find clothes that fit your little one and look great on their delicate frames. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the best baby clothing brands for stylish, on-trend outfits that won’t break the bank. Babies are growing up fast, so you’ll want to register for a variety of outfits in all sizes. In the early days, look for soft stretchy onesies and tees that are easy to pop off for diaper changes. For colder weather, a full-body outerwear option like a bunting sack or stroller bunting will keep your baby toasty warm. And don’t forget to stock up on a cozy sun hat, which will protect baby’s delicate head from the harsh UV rays of the sun. A popular choice for the newborn phase is a long-sleeved onesie that has expandable necklines or snaps near the opening to accommodate an umbilical cord stump (which will usually be around for 10-20 days after birth). Also consider a sleep gown that will wrap up baby like a swaddle and help them stay secure while sleeping. Alternatively, a kimono-style robe is another good option for keeping baby comfortable and protected in the first few months. As your baby grows, you’ll need to switch to pants and dresses that will grow with them. The coordinating sets from BabyGap make it easy to stock up on outfits that will grow with your child and last longer. Plus, their soft fabrics and simple designs are timeless, making them the perfect fit for every occasion. Janie and Jack is another baby clothing brand that’s always on-trend, while delivering quality and affordable prices. Their collections of boys’, girls’, and gender-neutral styles offer something to suit everyone in your family. And with a wide range of colors, prints, and accessories, you’re sure to find something that your baby will love. Other top picks for baby clothing include the feminine yet classic line from Marie-Chantal, which is designed with minimalist patterns and soft color palettes for a beautiful look. Molo also offers a lovely selection of baby clothes, including tracksuits, dresses, and sleepwear. No matter which brands you choose, it’s important to shop in person so that you can eyeball the outfits and size them up properly. It’s also a good idea to purchase a few extras in each size to ensure that you have plenty of options as your little one grows. Remember to rotate out clothing as soon as they outgrow it, so you’ll be able to easily see which items your baby has and hasn’t worn.
The choice of what clothes a loved one will be dressed in for their funeral is an important aspect of the grieving process. Many people choose to dress their deceased loved ones in clothes they would have worn during a regular day or night, with age appropriateness and sensitivity being key considerations. Some families will choose to use their loved ones’ own clothing, while others will purchase burial outfits from funeral homes or retail stores. The type of outfit chosen will depend on a variety of factors, including budget and personal preferences. Choosing the right clothing for a loved one’s funeral can help to capture their personality and provide comfort to those in mourning. A traditional suit or formal shirt and trousers are popular choices for men. Women may also prefer to wear a simple dress or nightgown. For babies, some charities and companies create handmade baby funeral gowns. If the deceased left specific instructions on what they wanted to be buried in, or if family members have an idea of what their loved one likes to wear, it can make deciding on a burial outfit easier. For example, if your elderly female loved one was fond of wearing nightgowns during her final days, a nightgown is a perfect choice for her burial attire. For young children, a casual t-shirt or sports jersey is an appropriate option, as long as it’s age-appropriate. A robe is another suitable option for adults. This type of garment is typically softer and more comfortable than a dress or suit, and it can be easily adjusted. It also has the benefit of allowing for easy removal after the funeral service, making it ideal for those who want to keep their loved ones close following the funeral. In the 17th century, women often used their wedding dresses for their funerals. This is likely due to the fact that pregnancy and childbirth were common causes of death, particularly in the 17th century. People have since moved away from such tradition, but many still like to keep the outfit they want their loved one to be buried in as intimate and symbolic as possible. One of the first places to look when deciding on an outfit is your loved one’s closet. You may be surprised to find a gown, nightgown or other dress that will suit their style and personality perfectly. It’s also a good idea to include some sort of traditional cultural clothing if the deceased had a strong affiliation with a particular culture. Some funeral directors offer a selection of burial garments in a range of fabrics, and they can be an excellent resource for helping to guide a family’s selection decisions. Some are designed with false shirt fronts and other embellishments that make them more resemble day wear or evening wear, while others are crafted from natural fibers that are better suited for green funerals in woodland burial grounds. Those in charge of arranging the funeral may also be able to recommend a seamstress who can produce an outfit that best reflects and honors your loved one’s personality and taste.
If you’re tucking your wedding dress away for the last time, consider giving it a second life by donating it. The dress may be able to help someone else’s special day, or it can contribute to a charity or cause you’re passionate about. “Not only does donating a gown have sentimental value for the person who receives it, but it also reduces waste from producing new materials,” says Leah Weinberg, a professional event planner and founder of The Gown Boutique in Brooklyn, NY. Many thrift stores and charities accept bridal gown donations. These include Brides Across America, which outfits military and first responder brides with free wedding dresses; Wish Upon A Wedding, which helps couples facing terminal illnesses have their dream weddings; and Adorned in Grace, which uses sales proceeds to support sex trafficking awareness. There are also many local options, such as the People’s Place in Kingston, New York. While a lot of people opt to donate their dresses, you should be careful when choosing a charity or shop to work with. “Make sure you do research on the company and ensure they’re a reputable organization that benefits a good cause,” Chapman says. It’s also important to make sure the donation process is seamless and that your dress reaches the right person. If you choose to donate your wedding dress, make sure it’s in a good condition. One wrong move could rip the lace or make a stain on the white fabric. It’s a good idea to have your dress dry cleaned before you hand it over, so the charity or store doesn’t have to spend extra money on cleaning. There are plenty of organizations that will take your dress, but you should contact them in advance to see what specific needs they have and how to get the gown to them. You should always communicate with the organization you’re donating to, and keep records of any communications and agreements for your own records. The NICU Helping Hands Angel Gown Program is a nationwide program that accepts donated wedding and bridesmaid gowns, which seamstresses lovingly remake into gowns for infants who pass away during their hospital stay. These gowns are also known as remembrance dresses, and the program helps thousands of families across the country each year. The Brides Project, a nonprofit bridal boutique in Ann Arbor, MI, takes donated dresses to sell to help families impacted by cancer. Its dress prices are affordable, and the sale proceeds benefit the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor.