Wedding gowns ‘offer solace’ as families grieve infants

University of Michigan Health. Hands guide wedding dress fabric through a sewing machine

At a NICU in Grand Rapids, Mich., garments created to celebrate one of life’s great joys are repurposed to lend dignity and peace for coping with one of life’s greatest sorrows.

The University of Michigan Health – West’s Helping Hands Angel Gown program accepts donated wedding gowns that are remade by seamstresses into gowns for NICU babies that have passed.

The practice offers grieving families solace and dignity, giving them something beautiful to dress their baby in. It’s a service no one ever wants to use, but families across the world continue to face the loss of neonatal deaths.

Angel Gown is one of several bereavement programs offered at the University of Michigan Health-West.

Cathy Miller, a registered nurse at Health-West, decided to donate her wedding dress which she now sees families at her hospital select after experiencing a loss.


“It just sat in my closet. And when I came here and realized that there was a need for these dresses, I was like, well what better way could I put my dress to use than this,” she said.

The repurposed gowns range in sizes from micro-preemie to full-term babies. Seamstresses attach a poem to each garment box. It reads:

“The world may never know if a flower doesn’t bloom or even pause to wonder if the petals fall too soon. But every life that ever forms or ever comes to be, touches the world in some small way for all eternity. The little one we longed for was swiftly here and gone. But the love that was then planted is a light that still shines on. And though our arms are empty, our hearts know what to do. For every beating of our hearts says that we love you.”


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