CHARLOTTE, NC (WTVD) – When a couple loses their baby early in pregnancy or during birth, the hospital often provides them with a special garment to help honor that life. These garments are called angel gowns, and they’re made out of wedding dresses. Now, an organization in Charlotte is working to make sure every family can receive an angel gown.
Hundreds of thousands of women experience the unimaginable loss of their baby during or shortly after birth each year. Many of them are left with nothing to bury their child in. One woman is determined to change that. Known as “Grandma Angel,” she turned the first floor of her home into a sewing workshop and now makes tiny angel gowns for infants who never leave the hospital.
The dresses are made from donated bridal and prom dresses that have been washed, cut and stitched to create a bereavement outfit for the babies who die during birth or shortly after. The gowns come with a knitted hat and blanket, a keepsake charm with a heart or cross, and a Bible verse. They’re given free to families who would otherwise not have something to bury their little ones in. “I’m very passionate about this,” said Gretchen Hauer, 69. She and her army of volunteers meet monthly at All Saints Lutheran Church in Darwin to sew the angel gowns.
A woman who experienced her own tragedy in life is making sure that every baby’s funeral will have a beautiful dress to wear. She and a group of seamstresses are turning wedding dresses into angel gowns for infants who never leave hospitals after their death or miscarriage.
This small but powerful initiative is called Angel Gowns of South Bay. The non-profit, founded in February 2018, is a beacon of hope for grieving families who have lost their children during or shortly after birth. It’s a community project that’s growing in popularity nationwide.
As many as 1 in 4 women will experience an infant loss, whether due to a miscarriage, stillbirth or complications of pregnancy. This adolescent loss can leave a devastating mark on parents, and can be especially difficult to cope with when the surviving siblings must grow up without the brother or sister they had planned on having.
After losing a baby at 18 weeks gestation, a former labor and delivery nurse named Tess Soholt decided her new chapter in retirement would begin by giving back to families with her own special brand of love. Soholt started a project called Andrew’s Angel Gowns, which is named after her grandson who died before he was born. Her back closet is now filled with beautiful gowns, and she sends packages of them to hospitals around the country. Each gown has its own story to tell. It’s a reminder that every life matters, even the shortest of lives. The dresses are being sent to NICUs, birthing centers and funeral homes, and are offered to grieving families completely free of charge.