Angel Gowns are a great way for families who have lost a baby to get a piece of their child back. The outfit can help patients honor their little one during hospital stays, or can be used for end of life preparations.
Angel Gowns are often made from donated wedding dresses. There are a number of organizations that collect these gowns and distribute them to hospitals, funeral homes, and bereaved families. They can also be purchased directly from these organizations.
The Angel Gown Program is run by volunteers, and uses donated wedding dresses to make beautiful burial garments for infants. It is part of a larger nonprofit organization called NICU Helping Hands, which provides practical and emotional support for families with newborns in neonatal intensive care units.
The program works to improve grief care for bereaved parents in hospitals, and the gowns provide comfort for parents who want to say a proper goodbye to their loved ones. In 2016, the program sent out $35,000 in gowns to bereaved families. These monetary donations help cover the costs of shipping the finished gowns to bereaved families.
During a recent volunteer day, members of the American Sewing Guild in Fort Wayne, Indiana, worked to sew about 10-20 gowns a month. The group also donates a few to local hospitals and bereavement groups. One group member, Cara MacLean, is a postpartum doula and bereavement specialist who has been helping families in East Freetown, Massachusetts.
The Angel Gowns Project is also part of an international organization, Project NICU Helping Hands, which has an international presence. This nonprofit provides support to bereaved parents of NICU patients, as well as training programs and workshops. Among the other benefits of the organization is that it gives indigenous women in developing countries a chance to earn money.
The Angel Gowns Project offers a wide variety of kits and materials to bereaved families. These kits include a special gown, two hats, a heart, and memorial trinkets. Each kit can be used for a memorial service, an infant loss ceremony, or a first funeral.
Another nonprofit organization that specializes in providing angel robes to grieving families is Angel Gowns Australia Inc. Their aim is to give a “moment of beauty” to a family who has lost a child. Aside from the typical infant burial gown, the kits usually come with a keepsake angel and a memory blanket.
A former patient of Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, Allison Harris, has been involved with the Angel Gowns Project. She has donated four generations of wedding dresses to the organization, and feels a special connection to the hospital.
Many other nonprofit organizations that provide angel gowns and other items to bereaved families have been started since Neal’s organization began. While there is no shortage of organizations that offer this type of aid, a donation to an organization that has been around for years can provide a lot of hope to a bereaved family.
To find out more about angel gowns, check out the Angel Gowns Project website, the International Stillbirth Association, and Bereaved Parent.