Thousands of Women Donated Their Wedding Gowns to Help Grieving NICU Parents
After witnessing bereaved parents at the hospital digging through bins of donated clothing to find something to bury their child in, Lisa Grubbs decided there had to be a better solution.
“Parents are suddenly given the news and they aren’t prepared and they certainly aren’t in any state of mind to go and shop for bereavement clothing,” Grubbs told The Mighty. “Many of them have babies so small that they are having to go to doll stores. I couldn’t stomach it. I couldn’t stand the thought of a parent having to do that.”
So Grubbs, who’s the President and Founder of the NICU Helping Hands Foundation, an organization that helps bereaved families to grieve, started the Angel Gown Program.
The Angel Gown program accepts donated wedding gowns and uses a team of volunteer seamstresses to turn them into special, one of a kind burial garments for infants who die in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The garments are either shipped directly to homes or stocked at hospitals so parents can select one to take final photos with their child or for funeral services.
“It’s something the family will reflect on forever, potentially,” Grubbs told The Mighty. “There is purpose and intent behind our gift, and it’s to give the parent some control and some power in a situation that they really have no ability to change.”
The program has only been up and running since summer 2013, but already it’s making a huge difference. They’ve received requests from hospitals all over the country as well as individual and personal requests for garments.
When Grubb first had the idea, she went to her mother and asked her to make some burial clothing out of her old wedding dress. They donated the garments to their local hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. Now, the program currently has around 700 volunteer seamstresses, with another 200 in the application process.
Last year alone, the organization received 8,000 donated wedding gowns. Each gown can make approximately between 10-12 garments, which means that in one year alone they produced somewhere around 80,000 garments and bonnets.
Grubbs feels that selecting a garment specially made for their child is a therapeutic part of the parents’ grieving process. She also believes the Angel Gown program itself has opened up an important dialogue for bereaved parents who often have difficulty discussing their loss.
“I think people worry that this is going to be a depressing or dark topic, and it’s sad and heart-wrenching that families lose their children,” Grubbs told The Mighty, “but it doesn’t go away if we don’t talk about it. The fact that we have the program and people learned about it, it was like suddenly a parent had permission to say ‘this happened to me.’”
If you’re interested in donating to NICU Helping Hands’ Angel Gown program, visit here.
Want to celebrate the human spirit? Like us on Facebook.
And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.