Angel Gowns – A Keepsake For Losing a Baby

Whether a woman’s wedding dress ends up in the closet for years or is handed down through generations, many brides consider their dresses to be something very precious. For women who have had to say goodbye to an infant, however, those dresses can be given a new purpose through a program known as angel gowns.

These beautiful, pastel creations resemble hospital gowns with ties at the back and are crafted by upcycled wedding dresses that have been donated by anonymous brides. Across the country, volunteer groups are collecting and sewing these gowns for grieving parents, whose infants may be stillborn or pass away during a hospital stay in the NICU.

The idea started in 2013 when a mother named Lisa Grubbs from Fort Worth, Texas, saw a need to provide families with a special keepsake garment for their babies. The NICU Helping Hands organization now collects wedding gowns nationwide and turns them into bereavement gowns that are given to parents to take final pictures of their infants.

While the gowns are being fashioned, volunteers stitch sweet messages on them, like “heaven’s angel.” One seamstress adds antique buttons to each piece and sews little angel wings in remembrance of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, where Clarence the angel received his wings. Another volunteer, Judi Fleury, is a designer of clothing, jewelry and handbags who runs the Waterfront Studios art studio in San Pedro. She and her volunteers gather monthly to fashion the angel gowns in her space.

When the Wilsons lost their daughter, Kennedy, in 2014, they decided to donate her gown to a local organization that had just opened up a branch in Ohio. The dress was a perfect fit, and Brandy knew it would bring comfort to other families who had experienced the same tragic loss.

The organization, Sunshine State Angel Gowns, now has over 40 locations in six states. Each location is staffed by volunteers who sew the gowns and provide a memory box with a golden keepsake angel, poem and a stuffed animal for families to remember their baby.

The group also makes bereavement blankets and wraps and provides a variety of other keepsakes to the grieving families. A generous financial donation of just $30 provides a complete bereavement package for a family in need, including the gown, gift box and golden keepsake angel. It’s not often that a stranger will offer such a thoughtful gift, but when it happens, it changes the lives of those who receive them. If you would like to learn more about how you can help, visit Sunshine State Angel Gowns or reach out directly through the organization’s Facebook page. You can also get involved by donating a dress or making a financial contribution. Please share this article on social media and spread the word. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of the thousands of families that will be affected by the loss of their baby each year.