Angel Gowns Help Families Through Loss

For families that experience the unimaginable loss of their child, a special garment can provide comfort. Known as angel gowns, the clothing is made from dresses donated by caring individuals who have suffered similar losses. The gowns are delivered to hospitals, birthing centers and funeral homes for families free of charge.

The process of sewing the gowns starts with a wedding dress, which is washed and then cut down to size. The gowns are then adorned with ribbons, flowers and other embellishments to make them beautiful. The seamstresses have personal connections to their work, as many of them have lost their own children or have suffered miscarriages.

NICU Helping Hands founder and president Sue Grubbs started her nonprofit organization after her own daughter, Leah, was stillborn at 29 weeks. She has seen firsthand how these gowns help families through their loss. Her group receives requests from all over the country. “It’s a beautiful way to help honor our babies who will never leave the hospital,” Grubbs said. “It’s also a way to honor the parents.”

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The loss of an infant is one of the most difficult things a parent can endure. It’s even more devastating when the loss is unexpected and so young. Mother and daughter Dawn Crippen and Krystle Black were touched by a national program that uses repurposed wedding gowns to create burial gowns and tuxes for babies who pass away at a very early age.

That is how the mother-daughter duo started Little Angel Gowns. They have been working with hospitals in Kalamazoo, including Bronson Methodist Hospital and Sturgis Hospital. The pair also makes pouches for infants who weigh a pound or less, and they recently added teddy bears and ornaments to their baskets.

They’re hoping to expand their service to other parts of Michigan. In addition, they have begun a partnership with Dignity Health – St. Mary’s Medical Center Long Beach. R.N. Melanie Mann, who works in the obstetrics and birthing department there, says the couple’s efforts are making an impact.

“When we lose a baby it is so traumatic and heartbreaking for the family, especially when they’re only infants,” Mann said. “They want their memory of the baby to last, and these beautiful gowns are so amazing in helping that happen.”

The mother-daughter duo has been able to provide more than 160 dresses and tuxes for grieving families so far. The pair is funded entirely by donations. They encourage others to help by donating their own wedding dresses, or money, through their website. They also ask people to spread the word about their mission. You can do that by sharing this article, or by simply telling your friends and family about the project. Then they can share it with their own networks. It’s a simple way to do something powerful.