Angel Gowns For Babies

Whether it’s because of a miscarriage, prematurity or delivery complications, the loss of a baby takes a devastating toll on parents. Having spent months preparing for the arrival of a bundle of joy, many are completely distraught upon learning their child did not survive. One way to help ease their pain is by providing them with a burial outfit, known as an angel gown.

A seamstress who works at Mayo Clinic in cardiovascular surgery, Lynn Gaber volunteers her time to help comfort families in Lansing through the gift of a special garment. She lovingly transforms wedding dresses into tiny, angel-like outfits that are given to babies who were born too early to survive. The garments, which include dresses and little vests or bow ties for boys, are worn for final pictures and placed in memory boxes that are delivered to families free of charge.

Gaber says the effort gives grieving families a sense of peace. “It’s not going to take away their grief, but it makes them feel a little better knowing that their baby is in something so beautiful,” she says. “It’s a little bit of comfort when you can’t give them a cure.”

It’s a sentiment shared by other volunteer seamstresses who work with the organization, called Marlene’s Angel Babies Foundation. They form groups and recruit others to join them in their work. The nonprofit is now in its fifth year and has received 501(C)3 status. In addition to gowns, it provides angel blankets and keepsake bags for infants who pass away.

The organization has received countless gown donations and has even had enough material to start an international program. You can donate a dress and follow its journey to a developing country (Guatemala is the current destination), virtually meet your seamstress and learn about her family.

Almost all of the volunteers who work with the foundation have had their own experiences with losing a baby, or they know someone who has. It’s a way to honor their loved ones, as well as to give back in their memory.

Brandy Spurgeon, who lost her daughter Karolina in 2012 at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, is among those who have been touched by the initiative. Judi Gibson, a registered nurse at the hospital who runs the bereavement program, contacted her shortly after Karolina’s death. She arranged for the family to receive a gown in the girl’s honor, and it was a huge relief. “Judi is such a sweet lady,” Spurgeon says. “She is very caring, and she made me feel like a normal mother.”

A gown can cost anywhere from $200 to $400. For those who are unable to sew or can’t part with a dress, the foundation accepts monetary donations, too. The funds are used to cover the cost of materials and shipping.