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The Stand Writer
Before I got married, I wanted to make my wedding day special. Like any bride, I dreamed about how the day would be perfect and filled with magical moments alongside the people I cared for. But in the back of my mind, I knew this was just the beginning of my new life as a wife. Was there some way I could make more than just the day matter – or help someone else?
As I began checking things off of my to-do list, I stopped when I got to one of the biggest items – my wedding gown. For any ole gal, that special white or ivory dress is a staple. I picked out the one I loved most, and out the door, we went. However, as the days went on, I knew that something more needed to be done.
In typical writer fashion, I began googling ways old wedding dresses could be used. Many boutiques take wedding dresses and give them to brides in need, and other resale shops donate the proceeds to different causes, such as human trafficking victims. But the more I began to search, the more I was drawn to the idea of an Angel Gowns Project (AGP).
Across the nation and world, different ministries and groups collect used wedding gowns, deconstruct them, and create burial gowns for stillborn or newborn babes that don’t make it home from the hospital. I had never considered or processed the cruel reality of newborn mortality in my little world.
The World Health Organization reported that in 2020, 2.4 million newborns died within their first 28 days of life, or roughly 6,700 newborns die daily. Although the causes differ, the tragedy of newborn death remains the same.
What do you say to a mama who just lost their minute-old baby?
How do you console a dad holding his babe’s lifeless body?
Truthfully, I don’t know that there are words. At that moment, these individuals have a million thoughts and feelings running through their bodies. If I were in that situation, there wouldn’t be much I would want to hear. In fact, I think only Jesus and His peace would bring comfort. But the more I learned about angel gowns, the more I realized they were a picture of His love and goodness.
After more research (and the Lord dealing with my heart), I decided that there was nowhere more meaningful place a wedding dress could go than to be turned into an angel gown. So, I selected Real Imprints.
The Real Imprints AGP program has two facets. One ministers in the States, and another is an international program. I chose the second. In the international AGP, Real Imprints sends the dresses to Guatemala. There, the ministry employs Guatemalan seamstresses to craft angel gowns. And unfortunately, many of them have experienced the tragic loss of newborn mortality in their own lives.
Last week, I received an email with a picture. My dress was done. Instead of something that I walked down the aisle in, it had been transformed into seven burial dresses and a tiny blanket to use as a wrap for a body. I shared the picture with some friends and co-workers. One asked, “How did it make you feel?”
I told her how brought me to the floor with tears. Not because I was upset or regretted my decision to send off my own dress but because it was real. Babies die.
Somewhere in the world right now, a newborn didn’t make it. A mom is in a hospital bed suffering in anguish. A dad is struggling with the realization of what happened. That child will never graduate, be wed, or celebrate any occasion. And left behind are two parents unsure of what to do next – let alone prepare to bury their sweet new babe.
When it comes to life overseas, often, moms and dads don’t even have the funds to dress their child before burial. Some of the seamstresses covered their babes in nothing but a cloth. But now thanks to angel gowns, parents at differing NICUs are given the gowns and also shown the love of Christ in the process.
If you are interested in learning more about donating a dress of your own, visit realimprints.org.
I usually end my blogs with a catchy verse or phrase, but today I’m asking for a favor: Pray.
Pray that these dresses are never needed. But also pray that if they are, these moms and dads will find hope that their sweet baby is in the arms of Jesus. Pray for their salvation. Pray for their lives after such a traumatic event. Pray that they know and live with their loved ones eternally. Whatever you do, just pray.