For parents who lose their infants, special garments called angel gowns can help ease the pain. The gowns are handmade from donated wedding dresses. Several groups across the country are sewing these tiny outfits for families who suffer from a late miscarriage, a stillbirth or an infant loss shortly after birth.
CHARLOTTE, NC – Tom and Deanna Williamson lost their baby son at just 20 weeks gestation in 2015. When they found out, they were told by Levine Children’s Hospital that they would receive an angel gown to dress him in. They were so grateful that they knew they had to pay it forward.
That’s why they founded an organization to do just that. Their nonprofit group is called Hillary’s Cherished Gowns. They work with families whose babies have passed away due to a medically inducible miscarriage or because the pregnancy was terminated for reasons such as a severe fetal abnormality or when it’s determined that the mother’s health is too much of a risk.
They’ve given out hundreds of angel gowns to families they’ve never met. And they’ve gotten plenty of support from strangers since KCCI featured them last week. “The response to the story was so amazing,” said Cohoon. “I’ve had countless emails from people all over Iowa and the country thanking me for what I’m doing and asking how they can help.”
These volunteer seamstresses use their own wedding dresses and those of others to make these beautiful burial gowns. They say it’s therapeutic for them to repurpose their own special day, while helping to provide comfort for other families in need.
A labor and delivery nurse who worked for 46 years, Lee has seen many heartbroken parents whose newborns didn’t survive the NICU. But she also saw how a simple gift of an angel gown can help families heal. “When you look at the baby in that dress, it’s almost like a remembrance of their life,” she says. “The fact that we can do something to give a little bit of closure and something to hold on to is so important.”
The nonprofit is currently in the process of becoming an official 501(c)3 organization, which will allow them to apply for grants to continue their work. In the meantime, they’re relying on donations to keep their operation going. If you’re interested in donating a dress, or learning how to sew an angel gown, you can visit their Facebook page.
KSBJ reporter Sarah Becker contributed to this report.
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