Angel Gowns for Infants Who Die Too Soon

angel gowns

In the grand tapestry of life, there are moments of immense joy and heartbreaking sorrow. For many parents, the death of a child, especially a newborn, is one of those moments. In those times of grief, some families find comfort in a special gown that honors their baby’s life and gives hope to the future. Angel gowns are made from repurposed wedding dresses and are given to parents who lose a baby during the pregnancy or shortly after birth. The gowns serve as a symbol of love, compassion and healing and knit broken hearts across the world together in love, hope and healing.

Bonnie Kalahar works to comfort Lansing area parents who grieve for their tiniest children, babies born too soon. For three years, the seamstress has transformed donated wedding dresses into memorial or burial gowns that she then donates to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. She calls them angel gowns, and they are tiny works of art, complete with beads, pearls, lace and embroidery. Kalahar has even made vests to go with the gowns for boys and bow ties for girls to match. She never meets the families who receive her creations, but she hopes the little angel gowns offer them some measure of comfort.

Edith Sheets, a retired Pickerington Schools home economics teacher, is another seamstress who uses her talents to sew angel gowns for infants who die before, during or shortly after their births. She started her project, called Angel Dresses, in 2014 and now sews outfits for more than 100 hospitals across the country, including Dignity Health – St. Mary’s Medical Center in Long Beach.

She has a waiting list of more than 80 hospitals, and she is hoping that the recent addition of a nonprofit incorporation will help her expand her work and reach out to more people. Her greater needs are fabric ribbon (she uses about 4 feet for each angel gown) and thread.

Across the country, more than 626,000 babies are lost through still birth and miscarriage every year. Each one is a tiny miracle that was so loved and treasured by his or her family, and it is our responsibility to give them the dignity they deserve.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Mangiaracina and her tireless efforts to sew angel gowns. Since then, she’s received more than 1,600 donations of donated dresses and has turned them into nearly 2,000 little angel gowns. She has distributed them to hospitals in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, as well as California, Oregon, Texas and Minnesota. If you’d like to support her work, you can do so with a $100 donation to the International Program. You can then follow your dress to a developing country, meet your seamstress virtually, and see how your contribution is changing lives. Click here to learn more. Please note that donations to this program are not tax deductible.