Unfortunately, bad things happen, and in some cases, we might only get to meet our loved ones for a brief period of time. Some babies are born with complications in which they only get to bless their parents with their presence for a couple weeks or in some cases, just a few days.
A woman named Tess Soholt knows this feeling all too well. She is a retired labor and delivery nurse, and she explained to WLTX 19 that her first delivery as a nurse was a stillborn baby. Of course, this was sad, but it felt even worse when it hit home.
Soholt’s son lost his child when the baby was only 18 weeks old. And so she too, has experienced that feeling for herself with her grandson, Andrew. When the hospital gave Andrew to his parents for his funeral, they wrapped him in an angel gown, and that’s when Soholt turned her family’s tragedy into a blessing for others who had suffered the tragedy of losing a baby.
The creative grandma started helping grieving parents whose babies passed on at birth or during their pregnancy by creating her own angel gowns, for them.
Soholt came across a 50-cent wedding dress in a thrift store, and that is when she began to live again, by giving back. The joy emerged from her hands when she started stitching tiny handmade gowns from wedding dresses and delivered them to hospitals in Minnesota at no charge.
Soholt explained the significance of her angel gowns. “When you have experienced this tragic loss, who wants to go shopping for something like this?” said Soholt. “It validates that baby was living and part of the family. Some may never want to look at it again, it’s too painful. Some might frame it, and in some cases, they might bury the baby in it. It’s not going to fix it, but I hope it brings a little bit of comfort.”
Soholt named her creation Andrew Angel Gowns, in honor of her grandson.
Her angel gowns began to grow in popularity over time. She has support and help with her angel gowns now as well. She explained to Sharon Fischman, store owner of the thrift store, about her idea of making little angel gowns and Fischman said, “She told me and I was like, wow. I got goosebumps and from there it has a life of its own.”
Fischman began to help Soholt collect gowns and offered her store to a group of volunteers who wanted to help cut up the wedding dresses and sew them into delicate garments. A group now meets monthly to create angel gowns inside the store. For some volunteers, Andrew Angel Gowns hit home for them as well. One woman shared she had a miscarriage at 12 weeks, and another volunteer came because her grandson died at seven days old.
From her basement, to amassing 200 dress donations, Soholt and her group have sewn over 250 gowns and 75 bonnets.
Soholt turned her pain into comfort when she decided to make the gowns, and she wants to help mend the loss. “I hope this tiny little gown can help some of the pain they are going through, to hold on for the remembrance and not forget that little life. It’s a loss you carry with you for a lifetime,” said Soholt said to WLTX 19.