From wedding dresses to angel gowns.
Lisa Grubbs, of Fort Worth,Texas is collecting wedding gowns, but not for brides. They're for babies who are being returned to heaven. Babies who never leave intensive care. She and a group of volunteers make tiny garments for tiny angels.
Each donated dress is being transformed into angel gowns for babies who never make it home from the hospital.
"There's something hopeful about that start of life, about a wedding, and to me, it's that full circle,” said Grubbs, founder of NICU Helping Hands. “This child who is so loved by its parents, being wrapped in love by a bride.”
Lisa Grubbs is the wife of a specialist for premature babies. She and her husband believe the passing of a child is a sacred event that should be honored. It’s one reason she started NICU Helping Hands, a Fort Worth organization created to support parents both educationally and emotionally.
One of their missions is to insure parents who lose babies in the hospital have something special and sacred to bury them in. Something special and angelic.
Grubbs has gathered a small team of volunteer seamstresses to transform bridal gowns into unique and beautiful baby garemnts. A single wedding dress can make a dozen or more of the tiny angel gowns. Many look like satin or silk christening gowns or doll clothes.
“Often, we would just wrap little babies just in tiny little hospital blankets or washrags or towels, and we didn't really have much to offer those families,” said Amy Vickers, a former NICU nurse who saw a need and volunteered to sew. “It doesn't take the hurt away from them. But it just lets them know that we feel like their baby's life means something."
Most of the volunteers who sew work alone, in their own homes, easing their own grief as they help other families.
LaJean Sturman sews for a son she lost shortly after birth, 30 years ago.
"It would have just meant the world, because I would have felt like I was sending him in something special, instead of something ill-fitting," LaJean said.
Lisa Grubbs said women who donate their gowns often do so for personal reasons. One such donation came from a woman who had recently lost her own infant. It was a “pay it forward” moment.
The angel gowns are donated to hospital NICU units. The need is far greater than it should be.
Volunteers say each angel gown is stitched with heart, and hope that the symbolic love of the wedding dresses are carried from the beginning of a new life, to another's end.
And so in donating their precious wedding dresses, these women are completing the circle of life. What a beautiful gift.
If anyone feels inspired to donate their wedding dress, please email me for more information. We have a new group forming to make even more angel gowns in the Northeast.