Sarah Henderson-Smith

As a midwife, one of the hardest things to deal with is the death of a baby. To assist a mother to hold her precious angel child - to marvel in his delicately long fingers, or the curve of her perfect toes or the way his ears are the same shape as his Dad’s - is both beautiful and heartbreaking.

Despite the emotional intensity that these situations bring, it is such a privilege to care for these families - to be there at an acutely personal and painful time in their lives; to help them in any way possible; to honour their child and his place within their family. We want them to know that we recognise how special their baby is. How important her existence is, and that she won’t be forgotten. That people care about them and what they’re going through. To see the depth of a family’s grief and know that there is so little we can do to help, is difficult.

Angel Gowns Australia not only provides solace for the grieving family, but comfort to those caring for them. The concept of their Angel Gowns is such a beautiful one. At the time when a baby dies, families are so overwhelmed by what has happened, making decisions can be very difficult.

Recently, one of the families in my care experienced the devastation of their baby dying unexpectedly. When this happens, through the haze of grief and disbelief, it can be very hard for parents to make decisions. One of their concerns was about what their baby would wear. I felt very fortunate to be able to tell them about Angel Gowns Australia, despite it being a weekend and late at night when I contacted Fiona, she didn’t hesitate to come straight to the hospital the following morning with a selection of exquisite angel gowns to choose from. The parents were so appreciative and were able to have some beautiful photos taken of their precious girl looking just like a little sleeping princess. It was truly special.

It is not just the physical gift of the gown itself, but also the tremendous love and care that is put into making each and every gown, which makes it so special. It also helps to create extra memories which are so important for the family to hold onto.

Fiona is absolutely passionate about what she is doing. It is something which touches people’s hearts and souls. Fiona is also passionate about raising the awareness of infant death and that it’s okay (and in fact, necessary) to talk about it. As a midwife, anything we can do to ease the difficulty and sadness of neonatal deaths is something we are keen to pursue, so I am very grateful for Fiona’s dedication to providing such an amazing service.