Marie Hayden and daughter Amelia Hayden

Marie Hayden and daughter Amelia Hayden

Angel dresses offer comfort to parents

An Evening Among the Angels June 16 is a benefit for Angel Dresses and grief counselling for bereaved parents

Angel dresses are made with love for families who have lost an infant. The dresses, made by volunteers from donated wedding dresses and other formal dresses, are distributed through BC Angel Dresses with information about grief and mourning.

Marie Hayden wants to add another component, access to professional grief counselling for families who want it.

“I have not lost a child but I know how much grief counselling helped me when I lost my father and I wanted this to be available to everyone at a time when they need it,” she said. “We want to add certificates for counselling by a professional with training in this area as something else to help families at this time in their lives.”

Hayden, owner of Hayden Fitness, and the women who are helping with the fundraiser for the counselling, Nicki Tegart, Brianna Keating-Martyn and Stacey Shook, are all busy mothers but the idea touched them and they wanted to give their time to the project.

Hayden heard about BC Angel Dresses when she and her husband, Shawn, were taking part in Dancing with the Vernon Stars, the annual fundraiser for the North Okanagan Hospice Society.

“I was interested right away. I work with a lot of pre- and post-natal women and I am aware of the adjustments to the body at birth. How devastating to deal with that and loss of a child at the same time. It affects the whole family,” she said. “I know all people grieve in different ways and counsellors can help with that. We want the community to be aware that there is a way we can help families through that.”

An Evening Among the Angels fundraiser June 16 will have people, who are asked to dress in white to honour the families and children, meet at a surprise location at 6:30 p.m. They will be delivered to a secret location to enjoy an evening of outdoor dining. There will be a picnic meal provided by Gumtree Catering, with donations by Farm Bound and Rosebank Farms and other donations by Hayden Fitness, Hayden Contracting and Shepherds Home Hardware in Armstrong.

Guests are asked to bring a picnic basket with place settings, napkins, glassware and any other table setting extras to create their own special picnic. Participants are also asked to bring a dessert for the dessert auction.

“I’m overwhelmed with the amount of people on board with this and how they want to help families who have lost infants in our community,” said Hayden, who has two daughters.

Amelia, 10, helps sort and pack the donated materials and the finished dresses.

“I think we should help people who are sad because they lose their babies,” she said. “That is really heartbreaking.”

There is always a need for more people to sew the dresses.

For information about the fundraiser  and tickets or to volunteer to sew, visit www.haydenfitness.ca