SEVIERVILLE, Tennessee (WATE) – October 15 is a day for families to remember a tremendous loss in their lives: the loss of a child. It is the day of remembrance of the pregnancy and the loss of the infant. Angel Wings Memory Gowns is a non-profit organization that helps families who have lost pregnancy or babies. They make special dresses and scarves for families to bury their babies in. Jennifer Jones founded the organization with her husband Ben after a friend of hers lost their 15-month-old baby.
“Watching her mom and family struggle to find an outfit, first of all, what’s good enough in a store? And then just having to go out there and see all these pregnant moms and happy babies, it’s really hard to do, ”Jones said.
So they wanted to take away this struggle for the grieving parents. They do this by making these dresses from given wedding dresses. Jones said she wanted to take a special moment and make it another special moment.
“The beads and the dresses are made, they are perfect for little angels,” Jones said. It is something very unique that you cannot find in a store. Almost all parts of the dress are used.
When she and her husband first started the organization, in their home using their dining table, they never thought they would reach so many families. They started sending only gowns to LeConte Medical Center. Then the University of Tennessee Medical found out and asked for gowns.
Today, they serve around 50 hospitals in the United States and the Virgin Islands, as well as several villages in Guatemala. Their workload also requires a lot of volunteers who help cut, sew and wrap. Jones said about 6 babies in 1,000 births die. About one in four women have a miscarriage. She later learned how common it really was when she had her own miscarriage, a few years after starting Angel Wings.
“It’s a very difficult trip to go. There is a lot of shame. You feel guilty like what I did wrong, oh I shouldn’t have had this sushi until I got pregnant, you know, that sort of thing, ”Jones said.
Jones said the stigma surrounding pregnancy or losing an infant has improved over the years. She said her mother lost two babies and that at the time during the operation they would put the mothers to sleep.
“They took her babies while she was sleeping, and she never got to see them. And you know, that was something you weren’t talking about. You just forgot, ”Jones said.
She said now there is something called the cuddly bed, which preserves the baby’s body longer, so that mothers can spend time with their babies. Jones said he has a special day to remember the loss of a child is important to the grieving process.
“You are baby existed. And you have to remember this to get you through the struggle. And I think just have a day to celebrate your child’s life. It doesn’t matter how much he, or she, still existed, ”Jones said.
She said we still have a long way to go to be better for these families who have lost pregnancy or infants. Jones said family and friends can’t be afraid to talk to mothers about it.
“Mom needs you to talk about this. They need you to talk about their baby, so they know their baby will not be forgotten, ”Jones said.
She told mothers, remember that fathers are grieving as well, although it may sound different. Take comfort in knowing that you are both going through the loss of your child. Jones said Angel Wings didn’t just provide special gowns or scarves for deceased babies. In each bag (which is also made of wedding dress fabric) there is printed material with books and resources for grieving families.
Each Memory Wrap Pack includes a Memory Wrap, Parents Keepsake Box Banner, Hat, Handmade Diaper, Teddy Bear, Keepsake Mom Bracelet and Printed Materials.
Each memory dress package includes a memory dress, handmade diaper, matching hat, stuffed animal, “stay with me” blanket, keepsake mom bracelet and printed materials.
Jones said that over the years there have been so many more options for parents, including podcasts and priests on Christian radio stations praying with families. She said most churches have a resource called GriefShare. Jones said the most important thing for grieving families is to reach out and talk about their struggle, and remember that you are not alone.
“When you’re at your lowest, they can help you get up. They can help you get off the couch, get you out of bed, ”Jones said.
Angel Wings is 100% non-profit, which means they depend solely on donations and volunteers for their work. The organization is hosting a gala on November 5 at 7 p.m. at their home, located at 560 King Branch Road Sevierville, TN 37876.
They will have dinner, dessert and entertainment, which will be a Jeff Foxworthy impersonator. They will organize a live raffle and all proceeds will help fund the organization to continue its mission. It’s their 2021 Denim and Diamonds Gala, which means you should dress up in jeans and sequins!
For more information, you can go to their website at this link.
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