Angel Gowns – A Way to Remember Those Who Have Passed Away

ND Angel Gowns transforms donated wedding dresses into infant burial gowns and keepsakes for babies born far too soon. These beautiful garments are delivered to hospitals, birthing centers, funeral homes and directly to families free of charge.

Every year about 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage and more than 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States. The grief of losing a child can be devastating. But for some parents, there is a moment of joy and beauty as they dress their tiny angel for the last time. This is the hope behind a program that is helping many families across the country.

The story of a widower and her daughter, who lost their infant, inspired the creation of this remarkable organization. Angel Gowns of South Bay was started by Gayle Fleury. The organization consists of a group of women who sew these special garments for children who have passed away before, during or shortly after birth. Fleury was so moved by the response of families who have received these gowns that she began to recruit local seamstresses to help with this labor of love.

In January of 2019, Spokane area resident Edith Reuter gathered up a vintage ivory satin wedding gown from her closet, one that had been hanging in her bedroom since her own special day 24 years ago. She cut the satin and stripped the delicate lace to create an exquisitely crafted outfit for newborn babies who are sadly taken before, during or shortly after birth. Reuter is now part of a large team that has been creating Angel Gown kits, which include a baby blanket, two hats and a memorial trinket, to donate to hospitals across the region.

“It’s so important to give these little angels something beautiful to remember them by, and to let the family have a chance to hold them, look at them, and have that last memory with them before they are sent home,” she says. “It’s so sad, but this gives them a memory of their baby and it’s just so special.”

Reuter, who has been sewing since she was 12 years old, was motivated to start her own chapter of Angel Gowns after reading about the program in a newspaper column. The article prompted an outpouring of support for the project from women like Lynn Gaber, a Mayo Clinic nurse in cardiovascular surgery. Gaber has made more than 80 of these tiny, beautifully embroidered dresses and gifted them to families who have lost their infants.

This is a heartwarming story that reminds us that even in times of despair, the human spirit can soar. For more information or to contribute to the cause, visit the website for Angel Gowns. We’d love to hear your thoughts. What are your favorite ways to honor the memory of a loved one? Please share your stories with us in the comments below.