Volunteers hope handmade boxes ease pain for heartbroken parents
Posted May 22
Updated May 28
Raleigh, N.C. — A dedicated group of volunteers is helping Triangle parents when double tragedy strikes.
The volunteers with Banded Brothers, a nonprofit Christian organization based in Raleigh, hand-build special burial boxes, called cradles, for babies who die or are stillborn. The cradles are given to grieving parents who do not have money for a funeral.
“I realize I’m probably not going to be the last person who holds this cradle in my hands,” said Charlie Gray, president of Banded Brothers. “Sometimes I think where it’s going to go, where it’s going to end, how many lives it’s going to touch.”
Banded Brothers formed in 2006, and its first mission was providing relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina. This latest project is called Cradles for Angels.
The idea came from Lindsi Hines when she served as chaplain at Rex Hospital. Hines met many young couples whose babies died or were stillborn. When that happens, the family usually calls a funeral home.
But couples with little or no money often must carry the remains out of the hospital in small boxes.
Knowing the pain of losing a child, Hines wanted to give parents “as sense of dignity for the life of that child.”
Volunteers are building hundreds of cradles a year; local hospitals will need close to 1,000 in 2014.
Volunteer Margaret Strickland said she had no idea the need was so great. “I was shocked,” she said.
Strickland writes a handwritten note to the mothers, often with tears in her eyes, saying, "I made this little wrap for your precious baby. I pray that God would heal your broken heart and give you peace.”
The notes are tucked into the satin-lined cradles.
Ten years ago, Danielle Reynolds lost her son before he reached 4 months.
“It’s something you never even think about, so you don’t even know where to begin,” she said of the daunting task of burying a newborn.
“It’s expensive. It really is,” she said.
Reynolds remembers standing in the hospital, scared and emotionally crushed. “We were given a phone book to find a funeral home,” she said.
While she knows the nurses were just doing their job, the memory remains fresh.
“I mean, the Yellow Pages after experiencing the worst loss any parent could ever experience. It’s just not right.”
Reynolds’ story is one of the reasons Banded Brothers will build as many Cradles for Angels as they can.
“As Christians, God calls us to love our neighbors,” Gray said. “That’s his greatest commandment.”
For Hines, the boxes are part of her mission to serve others.
“It’s not going to heal the hurt,” she said. “But it is a way of, I think, ministering grace and compassion to people in the moment in their lives when they can really use it.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for Cradles for Angels should contact Banded Brothers through the organization’s website.