The death of a child is an impossible loss. One mother in Wisconsin knows that pain, but she's trying to turn it into something beautiful.
Hazel Jones’ workshop used to be part of her living room. Now, she’s using that space to cut down formal gowns.
“They have a lot of tulle. They have a lot of fabric, especially those who are donating dresses from the '80s,” said Jones. “They are huge. They are so big. God bless the '80s for that.”
Jones uses the material to make burial gowns for babies who died too soon. Her own son, Matthew, was stillborn at nearly 21 weeks, and he had to be buried swaddled in a blanket.
“He was only three ounces and was six and a half inches long and the hospital had nothing that fit him,” said Jones. “I have so much guilt, especially in winter. Is he cold?”
Jones looked into it and found services that provide burial gowns, but nothing that would have been small enough for little Mattie. She set out to fix that.
“We started looking around and found sewing patterns for dolls that were about his size and very, very tiny,” said Jones.
And that was the beginning of Mattie’s Memory.
Jones makes gowns, quilts and memory kits for other mothers who had lost babies. She makes them in vibrant colors and sometimes Bucks and Brewers themes. Jones says she knows white is more traditional, but not everyone wants it.
“There’s so much expense that comes with losing a child,” she said. “The last thing you need to think about is, ‘now I have to pay for clothing.’ No, it’s there. It’s yours. Just take it.”
But that means Jones relies on fundraising and donations. She always needs thread, needles, scissors and seam rippers. If you have any old formalwear lying around, Mattie’s Memory will happily take it off your hands.
Jones will do with that dress what she’s been trying to do with her own loss.
“We will turn something ugly into something beautiful,” said Jones.
If you’d like to learn more about Mattie’s Memory, visit www.mattiesmemory.com.
This story was originally published by Katlin Connin at WTMJ.