Angel gowns are a gift that can be given to grieving families who have lost an infant. Originally started in Texas in 2013, these gowns are made from old wedding dresses and donated by people who want to support grieving parents.
It’s a beautiful gesture that can help ease the pain of parents who have lost an infant and bring a little light to their darkest days. But these gowns are not only a symbol of love, they also raise awareness about pregnancy and infant loss.
Whether it’s through donations of wedding gowns or monetary donations, the movement is spreading across the country. The Angel Gown Project, in its fourth year of operation, has a warehouse full of wedding dresses and about 500 volunteers who work to create them.
The goal is to create at least 10 gowns from every donated dress. These are then distributed to hospitals that provide specialized services for babies who die before or after birth.
Judi Neal, president of the organization, says that donating these gowns helps shed light on the difficult subject of pregnancy and infant loss. It’s often a taboo topic, she said, and it can be hard for bereaved families to share their experiences with others.
“It’s not something you want to think about, but it’s really a way to bring a little bit of dignity to the child,” she said. She said she’s seen the effect the gowns can have on parents who have lost a child and how much they can bring comfort to their hearts.
She adds that the gowns can even make end-of-life preparation easier for grieving parents because they’re custom-made to fit their newborns. She’s received requests from families who have lost a baby at less than 20 weeks and who were not able to continue with their pregnancy, or from women whose children had severe fetal abnormalities that caused their babies to die.
The Angel Gown Project’s mission is to ensure that all babies who die at birth, or while still in the womb, are able to be dressed in a gown that reflects their unique beauty and personality. Currently, there are many organizations around the world that make these gowns, and they’re available free of charge to families who qualify.
One of the main reasons that a baby’s death is so painful for a family is that they can’t bring their little one home with them. In a situation like this, these gowns can give grieving parents a little piece of their beloved child to remember them by and keep with them for a lifetime.
For example, Tom and Deanna Williamson of Akron, Ohio, are incredibly grateful that Levine Children’s Hospital gave them an angel gown to wear at the funeral of their son, Eli. The gown was handmade by a seamstress who had never heard of the program, but the Williamssons were so moved by the gesture that they quickly signed up to volunteer.